Let’s Keep Building Together
Dear Friends & Neighbours,
Thanks to your support and encouragement, I have had the privilege of representing the St. Paul’s West community for more than 20 years. Together, we have nurtured the growth of our neighbourhood into the thriving and desirable community it is today. I am pleased to share my wish to continue that momentum as I announce my candidacy for councillor of Ward 15 in the October 22 municipal election.
As you likely know, the City’s ward boundaries have changed, including the addition of three new wards. Ward 21 will no longer exist in its current form; instead, the new Ward 15 will cover most of our area. Many residents will not notice the change except the name. I am sad to lose residents to the north of Eglinton; we’ve been on many journeys together. Thank you for your commitment to community-building and your past support. On the other hand, I’m excited to get to work with new residents to the east (south of St. Clair to Avenue Rd.) and to the west (Oakwood, Rogers Rd, and Dufferin). I look forward to forging new friendships, partnerships, and visions for our community.
I care deeply about our corner of Toronto. It’s been home for me almost my whole life, and in fact, my parents still live here. This is where I had my first paper route and learned how to build relationships with neighbours. I attended St. Michael’s College High School, and years later, my daughters went to Oakwood Collegiate. My family and I have built our home in the heart of this community, and so my heart is here: in the trees, streets, buildings, and most of all, the people.
Over my years of service to this community, together we have planted and nourished many little acorns of ideas that have germinated into pillars of our community. Ten years ago, we embarked on the public transit reconstruction project that is now bearing fruit: on St. Clair West you can find flourishing businesses, the annual Salsa street festival, and now fully-accessible new streetcars to get around. Seven years ago, Toronto introduced shared cycling infrastructure to the city, and today we have six Bike Share stations in our ward (with more to come!). We have renovated virtually every neighbourhood park and added a new gem, the Wychwood Barns. Cedarvale Park has been refreshed with a new outdoor skating rink, soccer fields, new tennis courts, a water play area, fitness equipment, and an improved walking trail. As of today, we’ve got some of the best park infrastructure anywhere, from skating rinks to playgrounds to ping pong, not to mention beautiful ravines and trails.
My advocacy for policies that promote a healthy, engaged population extend beyond our ward: I have been a strong supporter of sustainable urban food policy and particularly the Student Nutrition Program, which now benefits over 200,000 students a year. Throughout 2015 and 2016, I pushed to support Syrian resettlement for sponsors and for refugees. Toronto’s refugee programming is now an example to other major cities. And, since I helped initiate the call for a municipal poverty reduction strategy in 2014, Toronto has adopted a comprehensive plan that includes things like library service enhancements in priority communities and the life-changing low-income transit fare program called Fare Pass, programs which I am proud to see through in my role as Poverty Reduction Advocate.
Each of these projects has contributed to making our city – and especially our community – what it is today: a vibrant, diverse, inclusive, and exciting place to live. I am so grateful that I continue to have your confidence as I carry out this work.
And there is more on the way! Our historic Wychwood Library is undergoing a needed expansion starting this year, and big plans are afoot for this cherished building’s future as a modern community space. With the Eglinton Crosstown scheduled for completion in 2021, I’ve been working hard on Eglinton Connects with Transportation and Metrolinx to coordinate the surface-level improvements that will benefit businesses and add a vibrant streetscape. At the City-wide level, I continue to be engaged with initiatives that impact Toronto’s most vulnerable, including the Poverty Reduction Strategy, housing and homelessness, and overdose action through Toronto Public Health.
This year, critical decisions are being made at all orders of government around Toronto’s transit future, and we all have a stake in the outcomes. I have been an outspoken advocate for thoughtful, progressive transit planning. With all eyes on Toronto, I am concerned about getting it right. Public transportation is one of our greatest assets, but it needs to serve all communities and it needs to be a reliable way to get to work and school. Big upcoming projects like Eglinton East and West LRTs, the Waterfront LRT, and the downtown relief line will require conscientious and focused management. Cycling upgrades will also be a key feature of modern mobility infrastructure
Speaking of potential, our new ward will gain some exciting neighbourhoods to the west. Hip and happening Geary Ave. is a hub of small business innovation, and it’s ready for some planning attention. The adjacent hydro corridor is the subject of a new park project called the Green Line, which will be a 5-kilometre park and trail running mostly through the new Ward 15. St. Clair West will be represented by a single councillor from Avenue Rd. to Dufferin, allowing for a unified approach to a vital main street. I’m excited to work more closely with the active Oakwood-Vaughan neighbourhood on initiatives that address community safety and access to services. On the east side, Winston Churchill Park is undergoing some changes as the St. Clair Reservoir beneath is refurbished, and I want to be with you to see the results of that work when the park reopens at the end of 2019.
What an exciting time to be city-building! It has always been a great honour to serve this community, my community. I love that I get to help it grow, and that I get to do it alongside you. This October, let’s commit to four more years of building healthy, thriving communities together.