Toronto election 2014: Ward 36 candidates

Welcome to the third and final issue of Toronto municipal election coverage in Beach Metro Community News.

In this issue, we are featuring candidates for city councillor in Ward 36 Scarborough Southwest, which includes our coverage area in Birch Cliff and Cliffside.

There are eight candidates signed up to run for councillor in Ward 36. Of these, Andre Musters and the incumbent, Gary Crawford, declined to answer our questions. Published here are answers from the six candidates who did respond.

We asked a range of questions, and include here the responses relating to issues most often raised by our readers. As with much of the city, public transit seems to be near the top of the list for Ward 36. An OMB approval for a high rise apartment tower on the Quarry Lands, which run between the rail line and Gerrard Street East/Clonmore Avenue, east of Victoria Park Avenue, has also been an issue for area residents. Build Toronto is in charge of overseeing development on the western half of the land, which is tentatively set to see low rise condominium buildings and a big box retailer.

Elsewhere in this issue is coverage of debates for Ward 32 and Ward 36, as well as a debate for trustee candidates for the Toronto Catholic District School Board.

Election day is Monday, Oct. 27, and anyone qualified to do so is encouraged to exercise their rights and take part by casting a ballot. See toronto.ca/elections for information on ward boundaries, candidate lists and voting locations.

Ed Green

I have lived in the ward, from Victoria Park at Kingston Road at Midland Avenue to Kingston Road at Markham Road, since 1974, so I know the ward well.

Ed Green
Ed Green

I have served as president of the Cliffcrest Association for eight years. I have served as the president of the Alliance of Community Action Groups – Scarborough for eight years. I have hosted all candidate meetings for federal, provincial and municipal elections. I have chaired community association meetings every year when I was president. I have worked for the citizens of ward 36 for many years. The main reason I am running is to ensure that the city funds and builds the Kennedy Road subway extension. I also support the building of the Sheppard subway extension to Scarborough Town Centre. And I support the funding and construction of the subway relief line.

  1. How would you address development plans for the Quarry Lands?

I will do everything I can to make sure high rise buildings are not built on the Quarry Lands. I was previously a resident of Main Square so I know about these lands.

  1. How would you improve public transit?

I would recommend the transfer of the Markham Road 102 bus route to Kennedy Subway station, and having it travel along Eglinton to Markham Road then travel north. Then a new Kingston Road bus route would be created to run from Warden Station along Kingston Road to Lawrence Avenue. I would also recommend weekend and late night service for Route 20 – Cliffside.

  1. Do you support an LRT or a subway for Scarborough?

I support the funding and construction that city Council has approved for the Kennedy Road Extension to Scarborough Town Centre and beyond.

  1. What would you do to assist Kingston Road businesses in Cliffside and Birch Cliff?

I would support more BIA funding for the Cliffside and Birch Cliff businesses.

 

Robert McDermott

I am a long time realtor and resident in Scarborough Southwest.

Robert McDermott
Robert McDermott

I ran in the last municipal election in the ward on inappropriate development, ie: the Quarry Lands, phasing out the municipal land transfer tax, revitalizing Kingston Road and a subway for Scarborough. This election, I am running on the same issues including better transit, traffic congestion, improved infrastructure, street parking and lower taxes.

  1. How would you address development plans for the Quarry Lands?

In the last election this was one of the main issues in my election campaign. This development is totally inappropriate for the area. It is zoned for high density in a low rise residential community. This application has been brought forward as a result of poor city planning. It would have a major impact on municipal services and infrastructure in the area. Build Toronto’s proposal to build low rise condos and a large retail outlet in the western portion of the parcel would be a reasonable compromise, however, I strongly oppose the 20-25 story towers GCD could build at any time on the eastern parcel of the property. I would like to see a combination of low rise mixed commercial – residential and a community park. Development must fit the neighbourhood.

  1. How would you improve public transit?

I would increase the bus service on the Cliffside 20 and Kingston Road 12 routes by having a more frequent service in rush hour and evenings, extend hours for weekend service, initiate an express bus on Kingston Road in rush hour service and have Sunday subway service start at 6 a.m.

  1. Do you support an LRT or a subway for Scarborough?

I have always supported a subway for Scarborough. Residents in Ward 36 can commute to either Kennedy or Victoria Park subway station. An LRT stop is not practical for ward 36. Residents in Ward 36 clearly support subway expansion.

  1. What would you do to assist Kingston Road businesses in Cliffside and Birch Cliff?

Reduce small business taxes. Cut the red tape at city hall. Put forms and documents required for small business administration online for easier access. Revitalize Kingston Road. Promote local businesses. Approve appropriate development in the area.

 

Masihullah Mohebzada

My story is similar to that of many of the residents in our ward, one of immigrant success.

Masihullah Mohebzada
Masihullah Mohebzada

I was born in what has become one of the most controversial regions in the world: Kabul, Afghanistan. At the age of 1, I and my family moved to Pakistan and we lived there for nine years until my family decided to move to Canada. We found our new home in Scarborough due to the growing economy in the area. Because of our determination, our family found our first jobs in Canada. When I and my family first arrived, Ward 36 was thriving, it was full of growth and promise. In the past four years though, I have not seen the same change and growth in our community. I am passionate in reviving this through my innovative ideas, open minded approach, being open to all of my residents’ suggestions, a strong desire for change and I want to do this all with a youthful and ambitious drive for change.

  1. How would you address development plans for the Quarry Lands?

I do not support the Quarry Lands developments. There are already more than enough cars that go out on Kingston Road. After putting in many high rise buildings what will Kingston Road look like then?

  1. How would you improve public transit?

I would fight to get an express bus down Kingston Road and an overnight bus. I will start up new roads so our seniors don’t have to walk a kilometre to get to a bus stop in the winter.

  1. Do you support an LRT or a subway for Scarborough?

I support the LRT.

  1. What would you do to assist Kingston Road businesses in Cliffside and Birch Cliff?

We need to first fix Kingston Road and get better transit down Kingston. After doing all this I would promote all the businesses myself and hold events in Ward 36 that will bring people from around the world and will help all businesses with hotels in Ward 36.

 

Robert Spencer

I have spent my working life trying to make our city and communities stronger.

Robert Spencer
Robert Spencer

I’m an activist, an organizer, and a connector – I’m focused on moving Scarborough forward together. I have extensive experience in public policy and know how to deliver results. I understand the challenges facing small businesses in a difficult economy, having run my own as a consultant and a plant manager. I have been married for nearly 30 years to my lovely wife Helen. Together we are proud to raise our 11 year-old daughter Fiona. I earned a BSc in math and physics and a masters in education. I served as chair of the Toronto Board of Education, Research Director for the Ontario Fair Tax Commission, and Executive Director of the Ontario Association of Food Banks. I also co-founded and am the current treasurer for the Beaches Community Energy Co-op.

  1. How would you address development plans for the Quarry Lands?

As one of the largest undeveloped pieces of land in our city the Quarry Lands site is a valuable resource. However, the site is contaminated and local residents have serious concerns about traffic volume and aging infrastructure that remain unaddressed making potential development a serious challenge. From the beginning I have been strongly opposed to the OMB-approved proposal for two 24 storey towers on the site with plans for five more. My vision for the Quarry Lands includes a large portion of the site being converted to a nature preserve to serve as a new tourist attraction in Scarborough. I will also advocate for a seniors centre on the site as well as low-rise mixed residential and commercial development. No development on this site should proceed unless the concerns of residents have been addressed by a thorough process of public consultation.

  1. How would you improve public transit?

We need to improve transit in Ward 36 immediately. I will bring an express bus to Kingston Road similar to the one that existed prior to amalgamation. This bus would run the length of Kingston Road in the ward then directly to downtown connecting the residents of Ward 36 to downtown without a transfer. I will also work to add more buses and extend hours for the routes operating in the ward. This would serve to reduce wait times and crowding during peak hours and would remove artificial limits on when residents are able to travel if they do not have access to a car. In addition the TTC needs additional funding to eliminate the repair backlog. Doing so would put more vehicles back on the road and immediately improve transit in Ward 36 and across the city.

  1. Do you support an LRT or a subway for Scarborough?

I support the LRT. The Scarborough subway does not serve Ward 36. It costs over $1 billion more than the LRT, it has less stops than the LRT, it has no stops in Ward 36 when the LRT does, and it will be finished years later than the LRT. The subway doesn’t make sense for our community. In addition to the LRT proposal I am also strongly in favour of immediate electrification of the entire GO system, including the Union-Pearson Express. Not only is this an environmental necessity but it will allow for shorter lead times meaning more trains can operate on those tracks. With more trains operating, two GO stations in the ward, and one less than two km from the boundary electrification of the GO system would immediately serve our community far better than the Scarborough subway ever could.

  1. What would you do to assist Kingston Road businesses in Cliffside and Birch Cliff?

Good jobs and thriving local businesses are essential for the health of our community. I am committed to working with local BIAs and business owners to ensure they have everything they need to grow and create good jobs in Ward 36. We’ve all seen businesses closing on Kingston Road only to be replaced by chains with no connection to the community. We need to encourage local businesses, with local owners, who will focus on hiring within our community. We also need to encourage the city to hire within the community for infrastructure projects that affect us. As councillor I will ensure that infrastructure and construction projects are coordinated to ensure the disruption to local businesses is as minimal as possible. The current system lacks coordination and has far too great a negative impact on our community.

 

Christian Tobin

I was born in Toronto and am a resident of Warden Avenue.

Christian Tobin
Christian Tobin

I served as constituency assistant to retired city councillor Michael Walker and I am a former employment facilitator for Canadians with physical and developmental disabilities. I am a diehard Leafs fan and a season ticket holder of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

  1. How would you address development plans for the Quarry Lands?

I am opposed to any high rise development in the area. Most residents I have spoken to feel that council needs to ensure green space is protected. As councillor I will fight to stop towers from being built.

  1. How would you improve public transit?

The first step is to introduce 24 hour bus service on Kingston Road to ensure residents can access transit at any time of day. A rush hour express bus is also sorely needed. I will also fight to ensure all subway stations have elevators for seniors, families and the disabled in five years, not 11 years as the TTC currently has planned.

  1. Do you support an LRT or a subway for Scarborough?

I am in favour of the subway. An LRT may be less expensive but having the foresight to see Scarborough’s population is going to grow will pay dividends. In 30 years we will need the subway and the cost of retrofitting or rebuilding at that time will be astronomical.

  1. What would you do to assist Kingston Road businesses in Cliffside and Birch Cliff?

The first thing I will do as councillor is to meet with BIAs in Ward 36 and create a far more open dialogue. I also believe we need better coordination of construction as Kingston Road has become a nightmare for many small business owners. Many feel their concerns are being ignored.

 

Joy Robertson

My name is Joy Robertson resident of Ward 36.

Joy Robertson
Joy Robertson

I am the founder and leader of Scarborough Residents Unite, co-chair of Scarborough Village Mental Health Group, 2013 International Women’s day award recipient for community leadership, previous community specialist for Scarborough Village, previous vice chair of parent advisory council for TCDSB, and a community organizer and advocate.

  1. How would you address development plans for the Quarry Lands?

For the quarry lands my approach would be to encourage community consultations and expert advice on the safety of the chemicals that are present in the quarry to humans. So I can implement what the community would like to have. Residents decided against towers, the previous consultation included the city and indicated they would like to see representations of mixed services including Employment, housing, commercial services and community services. As well as integrated green spaces with mixed dwellings, but no towers.

  1. How would you improve public transit?

I believe that the business would benefit from an improved transit system, but I would also like to have some incentives ad programs in place for businesses for example BIA program which matches new graduates from colleges and university to assist with taxes, advertising etc. In exchange for their experience and mentorship.

  1. Do you support an LRT or a subway for Scarborough?

I support the extension of the LRT as a cheaper option for tax payers. I will also work with the current system budget to improve cost effectiveness. Frequency of busses, have a 24/7 service increase the amount of express shuttles similar to the ones used to connect universities. Freeze or reduce fares slightly to ensure a cheaper and more reliable client focused experience. This will attract new passengers and encourage increased use of public transit to reduce traffic.


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