By BRAD BRADFORD
COUNCILLOR, WARD 19 BEACHES-EAST YORK
If we trusted social media as the litmus test for the cohesiveness of a society, the results would seem grim. Strong opposition to ideas that challenge the status quo, re-emerging sentiments of discrimination and hate, and oversimplification of complex social and political issues are plastered across our screens. It can give the impression of a profound level of disagreement amongst us.
But if my role as City Councillor has taught me anything, it’s that we have more in common with each other than the internet allows us to believe.
Having knocked on thousands of doors and spent time on main streets, in transit stops, and at community events, I’ve had the opportunity to hear our neighbours’ hopes and ideas first-hand.
Working for local government gives a unique perspective into people’s daily needs, and offers the opportunity to focus energy into driving community-led change.
It’s a privilege to be in a role where you get to turn people’s desires for their community into reality.
The last four years have not been without challenges — From supporting the roll-out of hyper-local vaccine clinics and building supportive housing to creating safer streets for our kids and seniors, and helping local businesses through one of the most difficult economic climates in recent history, the path forward has not always been clear or uncomplicated.
Sometimes the right thing to do isn’t always the easiest or most popular, but this job challenges us to look at the big picture, carefully consider the context and nuance of each decision, and recognize that while change is difficult, leadership requires us to manage it in a thoughtful and committed way.
As a city we still face many obstacles.
The financial circumstances ahead mean we will have to redouble our efforts. It won’t always be easy to maintain what we have, build what we need and change what isn’t working, but we have an incredible suite of people here at the City of Toronto that are up to the challenge.
We can take steps today to build an inclusive city for everyone, but that requires us to accept that the way forward will look different from the way things were.
We need to be open to trying new approaches together.
As the incoming Chair of the Planning and Housing Committee, for me this means taking bold steps to bring in more affordable homes and more housing options.
It means taking serious action to get more roofs over heads and more keys into hands, even in the face of opposition.
Social media can be a useful tool for bringing awareness and discussion to an issue, but it takes a different tool in the kit to move from debate to action.
We need to step outside, look around, and find ways to bring people together for action.
Whether you voted for me or not, I’m tremendously grateful for the community behind me and for the opportunity to lead with courage and creativity.
In a city of three million neighbours, there’s nowhere I’d rather be than here in Beaches-East York, working for you.