Summer is officially over. Our students are back in school. And in a few weeks, the legislature will be back in session.
To kick off the new parliamentary season, premier Kathleen Wynne publicly released her ministers’ mandate letters, which outline our government’s objectives for the next four years.
I thought this would be a great opportunity to share the goals I’ve set to achieve in Beaches-East York over the course of this term.
Reduce inequality in our riding
A report released by Social Planning Toronto over the summer identified two neighbourhoods in Beaches-East York where the incidence of child poverty is at shockingly high levels. This is unacceptable and needs addressing. Our government has taken the first step by issuing a renewed poverty-reduction strategy that includes an enhanced Ontario Child Benefit to keep pace with inflation, and a minimum wage increase to $11.
At the local level, I will work with other levels of government, community organizations and residents to ensure employment opportunities, safe communities and access to services.
This summer I was proud to put that principle into practice. During the campaign I heard from parents in Crescent Town concerned that their 9 to 10 year-old children attending George Webster Elementary School had to walk along a dangerous stretch of Dawes Road. Because of their concerns, some parents had even hired private, unlicensed drivers to shuttle their kids to school!
I worked with WoodGreen Community Services to secure a licensed bus at a low cost for parents in time for the first day of school. As the bus program continues, we will work with the TDSB on a more sustainable, long-term solution.
Improve the Danforth from Coxwell to Victoria Park
The Danforth should be a vibrant, clean, and safe thoroughfare as it crosses our riding. Organizations such as the Danforth Village BIA, the Danforth Mosaic BIA and the Danforth East Community Association are doing their best to bring vitality to our stretch of “the Danny.” I am eager to work with these groups and others to make it a destination for great shopping and eating. We need only look a few kilometres west to see what kind of potential lies in the Danforth.
One way we can kick-start east Danforth’s renaissance is by integrating the Main Street TTC and Danforth GO stations. Connecting these two stations with a seamless fare program would bring immediate relief to our congested subway lines and allow people to get to work and back more quickly. It would also generate new residential, commercial and retail development at the heart of our riding.
Develop a Beaches-East York local food strategy
Since being named the Parliamentary Assistant for Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, I’ve become aware of the extent of agriculture’s contribution to Ontario’s economy. Our premier has committed to supporting and expanding the agri-food sector in Ontario, and I am thrilled to support that mission across the province and in our riding.
Locally, I want to work toward introducing urban farm programs at our high schools and possibly reviving a rural-urban school exchange. In the coming years, I would like to initiate the first East Toronto agricultural fair in Woodbine Park. I will also work with other community partners and businesses to ensure that access to fresh, healthful food is equitable across the riding.
These goals are by no means exhaustive of what needs to get done to build a better Beaches-East York. I look forward to working with constituents and community groups to identify other issues and find solutions. I also look forward to finding eager partners to help me achieve these goals!
Arthur Potts is the Member of Provincial Parliament for Beaches-East York