Walayat Khan, 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?
While I am a realtor and automobile workshop owner by profession, I am also a veteran labour rights activist by passion, which encouraged me to run in this byelection.
I came to Canada as an immigrant and pursued the labour rights with the Licensing Authority for over 30 years at City Hall. I have the experience to deliver on my vision with community consultation for a better Toronto by fixing services with a focus to affordability and efficiency. I will work with communities to make sure everyone can build their lives in Scarborough Southwest with good services, affordable housing, and opportunities to succeed.
Diverse communities contribute to the spirit of Toronto’s motto, ‘Diversity Our Strength’. I am committed to protecting and celebrating that diversity and making sure our city is welcoming and inclusive for all. I will ensure more after-school programs to youth, work with private developers to build more affordable housing and come up with measures to curb gun violence.
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?
Change is a thing that advances a civilization to magnificence. Over the decades, the landscape in Scarborough Southwest has been changed from industrial to an expanded residential area.
As Toronto welcomes more people every day than any other city in Canada, therefore affordable housing opportunity is a matter of great debate and concern. Therefore, I welcome the change for vibrant, beautiful, safe streets in Scarborough Southwest with an increasing density along Kingston Road, but I am also in favour for an open public consultation process to bring further changes to the spectrum, if necessary.
I will pay great attention to the forthcoming Danforth-Kingston Complete Street Extension project consultation process to be held in early 2024.
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?
I am not a financial expert, but I understand financial constraints from my family standpoint to global perspective. Toronto faces combined operating fiscal pressures of $46.5 billion over next 10 years.
These forecasted pressures cannot be resolved immediately as the city is projecting an opening pressure of $1.5 – $1.7 billion for the 2024 budget.
These will become increasingly difficult challenges if left unaddressed. It will also impact on residents, businesses and visitors experience the city. Also, Toronto’s vision of being a diverse, equitable and world class city will be hampered.
We need council discipline, commitment, and improvement. Policies should be instituted such that fiscal sustainability is made transparent and is respected and complied with in all decisions.
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?
I would have to refocus in an unique as well as brighter zeal towards the legacy of the long-term serving Councillor Gary Crawford in concurrent to the direct responsibility for the city’s services through council.
Council indirectly oversees other major services delivered through its agencies and corporations, such as the Toronto Police Service, the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), and the Toronto Public Library.
I need to get connected to all of the city councillors and mayor in an open-arm policy to the mission of diverse, equitable and world class city. Particularly to make the Scarborough Southwest a champion in all aspects, because its people deserves the best.
For more candidate answers, please go to https://beachmetro.com/