Joe has served the midtown area for the former City of York and the new City of Toronto since 1991. His deep concern for social issues has led him to advocate for strong neighbourhoods, healthy communities, a clean environment and safe streets.
Joe has has served the public in a variety of capacities at the City and beyond which have helped shape his perspective on municipal policy. He holds an M.A. and Ph.D. in Theology and Social Ethics (theses on Holocaust Studies and Canadian Mennonites, respectively). His early career as an adjunct professor at the University of Toronto involved teaching and writing as well as coordinating active learning courses in Latin America. He has a long history of civic engagement on issues of social, economic, and environmental justice.
As a city councillor, Joe has helped transform his neighbourhood with a variety of innovative projects. These include reclaiming the historic Wychwood streetcar barns into a new community arts hub and local park; the revisioning Cedarvale Ravine Park including the addition of an outdoor rink and warming room; the rebuilding of St. Clair Ave. West to accommodate light rail transit and an improved public realm. Joe is an active supporter of public libraries and local heritage, including facilitating the construction of the Oakwood Village Library and Arts Centre, securing a home for the Tollkeeper’s Cottage, and overseeing the redevelopment of both the Maria A. Shchuka and Wychwood library branches. With the support of many community leaders, Joe has spearheaded the refurbishment of playground and fitness equipment in parks across his ward.
Joe is a hands-on Councillor who believes that a healthy ward is active and engaged. To this end, he facilitates many community-building initiatives. Town hall meetings, information sessions, shop local campaigns, visits to seniors’ buildings, environment days, cornfests, and family movie nights are among his priorities to promote civic engagement. He also supports and facilitates many locally-led initiatives like Secondhand Sunday, Supper With Syria, and Wychwood Open Door’s annual Trivia Night.
On Council, Joe has a reputation for approachable leadership and consensus-building. Colleagues and collaborators across the spectrum know they can trust Joe to deliver progressive policy solutions.
- As Chair of the Board of Health, Joe led the way on a public health approach to drug policy during the rise of an opioid crisis.
- As a champion of parks and green spaces, Joe increased the number of free activities in our parks and expanded our community gardens.
- As the Poverty Reduction Advocate, Joe hosted community conversations to help formulate “Poverty Reduction Strategy 2.0.”
- As a food access champion, Joe shepherded the growth of the Student Nutrition Program to 20% City funding, reaching 208,000 students.
- As a TTC Commissioner, Joe secured the implementation of the low-income pass, the system-wide 2-hour transfer, and new low-floor streetcars on St. Clair.
- As a Newcomer Advocate, Joe helped form a bridge between a global demand for Syrian refugee resettlement and a grassroots desire to provide relief.
- As a long-time shelter advocate, Joe was instrumental in securing Council’s commitment to 1000 new shelter beds and $178 million to build them.