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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

ELECTION: Council Turnover – Ward 27

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It’s not often that candidates for City Council are given the opportunity to run without an incumbent in the ward. This year there are nine wards with seats ripe for the picking. This post is the fourth in a series on the candidates in these contested wards, and the key issues in the neighbourhoods they seek to represent.

Ward 27 Toronto Centre–Rosedale

This ward encompasses much of the downtown core, east of Bay Street to Jarvis and from Queen up to the Moore Park Ravine and includes the Church-Wellesley Village, Rosedale, Yorkville, Moore Park, and Downtown neighbourhoods.

The Candidates:

Kyle Rae has represented Ward 27 for the past 19 years. During his time on council, Rae oversaw intense development in the ward, focused on issues affecting Toronto’s gay community, and spearheaded the creation of Yonge-Dundas Square. He became increasingly frustrated with the way council makes decisions, telling the Star’s Christopher Hume, “I’ll miss people, but I won’t miss council.”

There are a whopping 15 candidates campaigning for the Ward 27 seat. (In recognition of the area’s young demographic, VoteTO organized an all-candidates debate at Fly night club in June where the contestants played games such as The Price is Right and Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego, with questions designed to suit the ward as well as the city.) Here are the contenders:

As the former aide to mayoral hopeful George Smitherman, and endorsed by outgoing Rae, Ken Chan knows how politics works. Starting out as a police officer from 1999 to 2003, Chan moved into politics to serve as the Director of Policy and Legislative Affairs in the office of the Ontario Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. In his campaign launch speech he applauded the pioneering of Yonge-Dundas Square as an events space and expects more imagination in the future creation of public spaces in the city.

Chris Tindal may be recognizable to some as the poster boy for the Green Party. He ran for a seat in Parliament in 2006, as well as the 2008 by-election. His career as a multimedia consultant helps explains Tindal’s focus on open communication quality customer service. One of the key issues on his platform points to fixing customer service issues within the TTC.

Church-Wellesley Village BIA co-founder Kristyn Wong-Tam has business background as a sales manager at the real estate firm Coldwell Banker Canada and a franchise owner of the Timothy’s World Coffee at 500 Church. Wong-Tam also held a seat on the Mayor’s Economic Competitiveness Advisory Committee and helped produce the Agenda for Prosperity in 2008. Her main policy points reflect her initiatives at promoting civic engagement and community-led planning.

Another businessman in the race for this Ward’s seat is Simon Wookey, the VP of business development at Seniority Investments Ltd. implementing new green technologies. Wookey is also a longtime member of the Bloor-Yorkdale BIA and ran in Davenport (Ward 18) in 2006, coming in second place behind Adam Giambrone. His motto of “Toronto Together” represents his platform of open access to information such as the City’s budget books and an inclusive consultation process for all new developments.

Civil litigation lawyer Joel Dick has done pro-bono work for the Child Advocacy Project, has been a case worker at Downtown Legal Services, and is also a board member of Next Generation Energy Alternatives. He supports many international and local charities, and ran for a TDSB seat in 2006.

Enza Anderson has become a household name since a photo of her kissing then-mayor Mel Lastman in drag ran on the front page of the Toronto Sun in 1995. Since then she has been involved in cultural activities throughout the city including being the 2008 Pride Parade marshal, and writing a society column for Metro. In 2000, Anderson ran for mayor and came in third behind Mel Lastman and Tooker Gomberg, garnering 13,595 votes. Anderson says that her gender shouldn’t matter in her race for council. “It’s about what you can do, not what you are,” she told Torontoist. Anderson wants to see term limits for council (which can perhaps be interpreted as an ode to the outgoing councillor).

Susan Gapka is a familiar face in this ward’s political history. Gapka ran against Rae 2006, and came in fifth place. She has been a leader in social justice campaigns, particularly on behalf of the trans-gender community. Along with the Toronto Police, Gapka set up the city’s first LGBT Community Consultative Committee. One of her key platform issues is the need for safe and affordable community housing.

Robert Maynell‘s experience with social housing on the property management committee at 20 St. Lawrence, with the Ontario March of Dimes Non-Profit Housing Corporation, member of the advisory board of the Museum of Contemporary Art, and a previous director of Citizens for Safe Cycling in Ottawa shows that he has a diverse understanding of some of the things that make a city tick. Maynell has also been a contributor to the Toronto Star, Toronto Life, Quill and Quire, and Canadian Journal of Political Science.

Perry Misall has served as an appointed member of the East York Preservation Society, as well as on the Moss Park neighbourhood association where he fought to install a new children’s playground, lighting and splash pad. He wants to see better care of the parks in the ward, including signs posted that display the last inspection date and ways that citizens can follow up with their concerns.

Ella Rebanks is not only a mother and community member, she has worked on many political campaigns, was the assistant to a Toronto MP, and has worked at a number of investment firms throughout the city.

Also running for this highly contested seat on council are Steve Jacobs, Paul Spence, and last minute entrants Jonas Jemstone and Ben Bergen.

The Issues:


  • Dick supports Transit City, as well as the proposed open-fare payment system the TTC is looking to roll-out.
  • Anderson is looking to improve transit in all respects, including more subways and streetcars as well as repair to existing stations.
  • Chan wants to put pressure on the Ontario government to contribute their fair share to the operation and development. costs of the TTC and would like to revamp the commission’s governance structure and implement a more inclusive board with citizen appointees.
  • Tindal understands the frustration felt by commuters watching packed buses pass them by, and wants to see more accountability, better on-time arrival, and a cleaner, more technology-friendly TTC.


The ongoing construction of high-rises continues to be a divisive issue within the ward.

  • Wong-Tam strongly believes that communities should have a say in the buildings and initiatives that are planned for their neighbourhoods. This is why she’s been organizing a residents association to counter the plans for a 25-storey development that would tear down heritage buildings.
  • Dick is proposing what he calls a Neighbourhood Matching Plan, similar to Seattle, where projects created by residents associations could appeal to the City to fund half the project, while community fundraising funds the other half.

Infrastructure + Urban Design

Being a downtown ward, walkability and congestion are concerns apparent to both residents and visitors to the area. Evan Dean, a candidate who has since dropped out, floated a proposal to make Yonge Street a pedestrian mall. He wanted to see Yonge closed off on weekends in the summer to make it even more of a destination.

  • Wookey mentions that the narrowing of Jarvis Street shouldn’t be considered until the fate of the Gardiner is determined.
  • Anderson calls for enhanced Waterfront revitalization and more recreation facilities in the already dense downtown core to enhance livability.
  • Tindal wants to see development that is respectful of community character, heritage while also increasing Toronto’s Green Development Standard.

In a ward with this many candidates, the ballot question may revolve around who has demonstrated  the most ability to make an impact in the community. Spacing would like to see more mention of how these candidates plan on dealing with bike lanes in the downtown core and how they can make the congested downtown streets more welcoming to pedestrians. While almost every candidate talks about the importance of maintaining rental properties and heritage sites in the midst of a building boom, few explain exactly how they plan to ensure smart development in the ward. It’s an issue of particular importance to renters, who comprise 63% of the area’s constituents.

Photo by Sam Javanrouh

the whopping 15 candidates for Ward 27.



  1. Thanks to Spacing for providing this summary. With regards to improved cycling and pedestrian safety, I’d point readers towards my answers to TCAT’s election survey, where I affirm the need to fully staff and fund the Pedestrian Projects Unit of the Public Realm, complete the bike plan, and establish a Complete Streets Policy in Toronto.

    On development, it’s critical that we complete detailed secondary plans for each neighbourhood so we know that what we’re building today is actually the city we want one, five, and 20 years from now.

    For more detail on these policies and others, or to ask me a question, don’t hesitate to visit

  2. Here are my ward issues:

    1. A pedestrian crosswalk at the intersection of St. Joseph Street and Queen’s Park. Right now St. Joseph Street ends at Queen’s Park and there is no provision whatsoever for pedestrians crossing the street.

    2. The sidewalk on the north side of Wellesley immediately west of Yonge Street is far too narrow. There are metal boxes that prevent anyone in a wheelchair from using the sidewalk. This is wrong. I suggest that the left turn lane for cars eastbound on Wellesley be removed, this intersection be signed “no left turn” and the space currently wasted by a car turn lane be used to widen the sidewalk.

    3. Adequate enforcement of the “Bus, Bicycle and Taxi” lane on Bay Street. Currently this is routinely violated by SOVs with little apparant enforcement by Toronto Police.

    4. Promptly towing away cars whose drivers park them illegally in bicycle lanes. This is a public safety issue that should receive the highest priority from Toronto Police.

    5. Toronto Police to lay criminal charges of “Dangerous Driving” against car drivers who intimidate, threaten or endanger vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists.

    6. I note that the last three items were fundamentally about a Toronto Police Service that fails to uphold and enforce the law in the face of violent and dangerous criminals that threaten myself and my loved ones. Toronto Police needs to be reformed so that enforcing the law against violent, dangerous criminals becomes a priority. The many police who currently ignore serious crimes of violence that are committed right in front of them need to become instantly unemployed.

  3. Hear, hear on Kevin Love’s 3-5 especially!
    Have you tried calling TPS on these issues? What response did you get? I’m equally disappointed by enforcement on the so-called transit priority lane on King St (indicated by the Diamond signage above the centre lanes). Has this ever been enforced?

  4. In my previous comment, I should have said that these are all Ward 27 issues.

  5. Do any of these candidates have positions on taxes and spending?

  6. None of these lanes have ever been enforced. Doesn’t matter if it’s King or Bay or Don Mills, I want to see a crackdown.

    Whenever the next planned crackdown on cyclists is, why don’t they spend their time enforcing these lanes?

    I don’t even cycle, I’m just tired of seeing single-occupancy cars breaking the law and impeding TTC vehicles.

  7. Thanks to Spacing for this helpful summary. I’m also very committed to improving cycling and pedestrian infrastructure, as affirmed in my answers to TCAT’s election survey. I’d encourage anyone wishing to find out more about my priorities or get in touch with me to visit my website – (I tried posting links to both those items earlier today but my comment didn’t go through, so I’m trying again now without the links.)

  8. i’m wondering who is the photographer who did that great spread on dundas square, the photo that is above?

  9. virtually none of the ward 27 candidates represent the concerns of many people i have canvased in the ward for their views on the following.

    most of the people i speak with are against the narrowing of jarvis st. the city is grid-locked already especially downtown.  the dvp is a joke to most people living any where near the gta. it is LITERALLY, a “parkway” during most hours of use and not a through way. people no longer enjoy coming midtown or downtown to shop as the traffic and parking hassles are intimidating and very unpleasant.

    noone who is running for city council wants to speak against bikers!! bicyclists must be made accountable. they should be obliged to follow the rules of the road. few do. every bike should have a visible license. bicyclist should be obliged to pay heavy fines and incur points for being scofflaws and ignoring the basic rules of courtesy and the road. they should not be allowed to take up whole road lanes if not in a bike lane!

    traffic lights should be better coordinated by traffic sensors.

    constant “higgledy-piggledy” construction all over the city with no concerns for traffic flows must STOP. resident, businesses and driver’s concerns are ignored! i have heard city residents cheer the 100 million dollar law suit against the city regarding the fiasco that became the st clair street car line!

    i could go on!

  10. There is more to be said about Kristyn Wong Tam:

    In addition to her business credentials listed above, she was a co-founder of the Church-Wellesley BIA.

    She is supportive of the arts and owns an art gallery.

    She is dedicated to making the city pedestrian friendly, accessible to people with disabilities, and safer for cyclists and with affordable transportation

    She is dedicated to making the downtown more accessible to both the elderly and families.

    She is supportive of local food initiatives, waste reduction initiatives and the expansion and maintenance of our parks.