Parthi Kandavel, 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?
More than 35 years ago, my family chose Scarborough Southwest as our home, and I couldn’t be more grateful. I often think back on my time going to school here, getting my first shot at teaching at John A. Leslie. Now I’m raising my daughter here with my wonderful wife Anu, a professor at York University teaching the next generation of teachers.
Scarborough has changed a lot since I was my daughter’s age, and continues to change at a rapid pace despite the fact that the people who live here haven’t been consulted about it. During my time as the TDSB Trustee, the battle to stop the demoviction of Lenmore Court on Kingston Road was a principal reason why I chose to run for Council. When the proposal was first drafted I was upset, knowing many children will lose important relationships with friends and caring teachers, and elders being uprooted after decades in their homes. Which is why I fought so hard to have the proposal shut down.
We lost that battle, but with your support I will be that strong voice to stand up for 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?
In the battle to stop the demoviction of Lenmore Court, I worked with the Birch Cliff Residents Association to oppose the application through my office as TDSB Trustee.
Similarly, I will strongly oppose applications to demolish existing affordable residences. I will also oppose the rezoning of essential retail and employment lands, like what happened at the iconic Sun Valley grocery store. Basic community infrastructure is being taken away because decisions are being made that do not invite or consult the community.
Development is a necessity, as we’re seeing historic immigration. I am fully in favour of development if the zoning makes sense, integrity of the process is maintained, and funding is proportionally allocated for city services. We need a strong voice to support good development that leaves the ward better off.
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?
The city is in a financial crisis, and we need creative and bold solutions to increase revenue without burdening low and fixed income people. While I was on the TDSB my colleagues trusted me as Budget Chair from 2020 – 2022. My experience provides me with practical skills to meaningfully address this issue.
Property tax increases can be a significant burden for many. We see a consistent lack of adequate funding for services in Scarborough, well below that of other areas. It’s unfair to ask residents of any tax bracket to pay more for services they aren’t seeing.
I propose that we decrease city spending on external consultants, transferring that work to in-house staff. We can also increase taxes on vacant properties. We should implement a foreign buyer land transfer tax. I’m hesitant to support a municipal sales tax.
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?
The most important issue I will be able to have an impact upon is the political culture at City Hall.
As Trustee, I developed a strong reputation for leadership around the big decisions. I chaired the committee to search and hire the Director of Education. When I chaired the TDSB’s first ever Board Self-Assessment Committee, there were questions about why I would get behind a project that would potentially result in public criticism. What always matters to me is getting the best results. I’m open to reform that brings transparency, clarity and accountability to public service.
For more candidate answers, please go to https://beachmetro.com/