Jessica Hines, a Toronto Council candidate in the Scarborough Southwest byelection on Nov. 30, answers four questions from Beach Metro Community News.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Candidates were instructed to keep their answers to approximately 200 words, and some of the responses have been edited to keep them as close as possible to the agreed word count.)
QUESTION 1: Please tell our readers a little bit about yourself and why you decided to run in this byelection?
I’m a proud Toronto native, raised in the vibrant community of Scarborough. My roots trace back to my Jamaican immigrant parents. I hold a master’s degree in international business. As a passionate athlete, I participate in various sports.
For the past few years, I’ve been actively involved in the West Toronto area, supporting grassroots organizations such as Black Urbanism To (BUTO) and Oakwood Vaughan Community Organization (OVCO). Through these professional engagements, I have had the honour of both learning from and assisting their endeavors in advocating for affordable spaces, supporting businesses along Eglinton West.
As a business consultant, I’ve assisted small business owners in achieving their goals. I’ve witnessed the transformations taking place in Scarborough, and I firmly believe that with the right leadership, these changes can benefit everyone. I’m running to demonstrate my commitment to the long-term growth and development of our community.
QUESTION 2: If elected councillor, how will you address concerns regarding increasing density along Kingston Road through the Birch Cliff and Cliffside areas that is seeing affordable, low-rise rental apartment buildings being replaced by condominiums of nine storeys and more?
The increasing density along Kingston Road is a significant concern for our community. While it’s natural for a growing city to experience densification, it’s crucial that we ensure this process doesn’t lead to the displacement of affordable rental apartments.
I fully support zoning policies that aim to reserve a percentage of new developments for affordable housing. If elected, I will actively collaborate with developers to promote the creation of affordable rental units. This collaboration may involve working closely with the city to encourage developers to incorporate affordable housing options into their projects.
Moreover, I plan to engage with the community and non-profit organizations that are already involved in developing affordable housing solutions, such as community land trusts and cooperatives.
QUESTION 3: How do you view potential measures, including but not limited to property tax increases, to address Toronto’s budget deficit, and what alternative strategies would you propose for the city to navigate its financial crisis?
By embracing inventive solutions and digital advancements, we can significantly improve the efficiency of our municipal operations and service delivery, ultimately leading to cost reductions.
While addressing Toronto’s budget deficit, we should remain open to a range of options, with property tax increases being a last resort, carefully considered to prevent an unfair burden on residents.
Currently, the city is advocating for equitable funding from higher levels of government. However, it’s also important to explore reducing corporate taxes to encourage businesses to remain and support the city’s long-term growth. My primary goal is a well-balanced solution that ensures the city’s financial health without overburdening its residents.
QUESTION 4: What is the most important issue that you think you will be able to have an influence on if elected as the new councillor for Scarborough Southwest?
Transit and transportation are of the utmost importance. Residents who travel downtown for work have expressed that their commute is long and tiresome.
Biking is a solution for some, but the cycling network needs improvement. This highlights the pressing need for improved community mobility.
Having worked on the Eglinton corridor, I’ve witnessed firsthand the detrimental impact of poor public transit planning on local businesses. As road congestion continues to rise, it’s evident that Ward 20 deserves better transportation solutions. I’m committed to transit improvements as a top priority.
For more answers from candidates, please see https://beachmetro.com/