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Ward 26 – Candidates answer questions

1. Many Leaside residents are forced to leave their homes because of property tax hikes. What do you think of freezing their rates?

Jon Burnside
Tax relief that relates to one’s level of income should only be undertaken by the levels of government that collect income based taxes. Given the massive capital demands of projects (i.e. public transit and upgrading our aging infrastructure), I’m not in favour of any property tax freezes at this time.

John Parker
The City of Toronto has comprehensive and generous policies in place now that provide tax and water bill deferrals, rebates, and in some cases outright exemptions  to low income seniors and persons with disabilities. I fully support retaining these policies and reviewing/updating the applicable thresholds regularly.

David Sparrow
A plan to freeze tax rates for seniors on lower fixed incomes is something I would welcome, along with better, more affordable homecare options and more assisted living spaces to allow residents to age in places in the communities they know and love.

Ishrath Velshi
I do not support increases above the cost of living index.

Vania Wasim
We would have to evaluate/study the effects of freezing the rates to best serve  Leaside residents, while being fair to other residents in the city. If those “forced to leave their homes” refers to seniors, in fairness to them, I would lobby the provincial government.

2.  Traffic congestion and speeding are becoming worse. How would you alleviate these problems?

Jon Burnside
A police officer for 10 years, I established a network of relationships and gained an understanding of police protocol, keys to better safety enforcement. I’ll take an aggressive, multi-faceted approach:  immediate action on Leslie and Redway extensions, peer-reviewed traffic studies before new developments and implementation of proven traffic calming strategies.

John Parker
I have implemented a number of measures to address traffic pressures and have arranged for others that will be implemented in the future, such as a median on Laird to keep traffic off Parkhurst. Most important: I am working to extend Redway Rd. to get commuters off Leaside streets altogether.

David Sparrow
Better enforcement of driving laws. Permanent signage identifying Leaside as a pedestrian friendly, family neighbourhood. Change gateway intersections to slow and alert traffic to the community they’re entering. Say NO to more big-box stores and the traffic they invite. Demand new residential development be in keeping with the character of our community.

Ishrath Velshi
A comprehensive traffic study needs to be conducted. Collaborate with the Leaside Traffic Committee and the Transportation Department to develop a short-term and long-term plan. Convene a town hall meeting to discuss and recommend that we reduce the speed to 30 kph immediately. Insist on better enforcement and camera monitoring.

Vania Wasim
Traffic congestion and speeding could be eased by promoting safer driving, encouraging car pooling / taking public transit, and having stop signs and speed bumps installed as requested by the residents on those streets. Where children are involved, have the speed limit lowered and enforced.

3.  Would you help businesses along Eglinton that are suffering most from construction of the LRT?

Jon Burnside
Yes. As a business owner myself, I understand the challenges faced by small businesses in the community. These same small businesses are the ones who support the community and they definitely need to be compensated for any losses which are the result of the LRT construction.

John Parker
The Crosstown will be good for Eglinton businesses. The single most important thing is to expedite the project and minimize the disruption. I am working closely with Metrolinx, TTC and city staff to this end. St. Clair taught us that communication throughout is key; we will be emphasizing that.

David Sparrow
I support and encourage local businesses. LRT construction is here for 4-6 years. I commit to standing with the community, including local small businesses, as we adapt to the constant change this project will bring. If/when specific businesses suffer, I will work to see they are compensated and/or facilitated.

Ishrath Velshi
I am willing to meet with the businesses to hear what their suffering entails. I will work with my provincial counterpart and Metrolinx to discuss what can be done to alleviate the ‘suffering’. This project involves two levels of government and decisions must be made in consultation with all parties.

Vania Wasim
The city requires an improved transit system. However, pushing for a construction system causing minimal disruption, and encouraging businesses to have patience would be vital, by reminding them that upon completion, they will benefit from the “stop and shop” practices of Metro pass holders.

4.  What is your opinion about replacing the Ontario Municipal Board with the proposed Local Development Permit System?

Jon Burnside
I agree. OMB has consistently failed the people of Ward 26 and City of Toronto. I’m in favour of:
–dramatic reform to restore accountability and community interests as central priorities in the planning and approvals processes,
–a system where decision makers are directly accountable to the public they’re supposed to be serving.

John Parker
I favour the development permit system. That’s why I’ve written and spoken on it and why I voted for it at council. It’s currently under appeal; implementation will therefore be delayed. Implementation will also be gradual and will start in high growth areas. It is not coming to Leaside soon.

David Sparrow
The OMB does not live here. Hodge-podge development must stop. Local Approval Boards and a Development Permit System where limits are firmly established and ruled on by neighbourhood stakeholders seem appropriate. Developers have their lawyers, the city has their bureaucrats, we deserve an advocate who will stand with our community.

Ishrath Velshi
I support replacing the OMB with the proposed local DPS. However, in the case of Leaside, the establishment of the DPS needs to incorporate both the Leaside Business Park and the residential areas. The impact of development in the industrial area will have a direct impact on the residential area.

Vania Wasim
I would need to review the details further. Would there be any benefits, costs and impact to the services already provided?

5.  What is your opinion about the increasing retail presence in the Leaside Business Park industrial area?

Jon Burnside
People and the community come first. I favour projects that deliver better job density and less outside traffic than big box retailers. All future development must include planning for more recreational facilities and green spaces and I will aggressively pursue Section 37 funds from developers to achieve these important priorities.

John Parker
Before I was elected, Toronto adopted an official plan that allows retail on edges of employment lands. The criteria for approval are objective factors concerning which developers have recourse to the OMB. Working with city staff, I subject these factors to rigorous review and demand design excellence from successful proposals.

David Sparrow
Let’s think outside the big-box! We’re about to build our seventh big grocery store and a Walmart. Meanwhile small businesses are closing, and traffic from all over the city is drawn through Leaside. Let’s consider new options, better jobs, accessible greenspace, community amenities. Let’s ensure our voice is heard!

Ishrath Velshi
We need a comprehensive collaborative review by relevant city staff and Leaside residents to develop a strategy for the area allowing for sustained economic growth. We need to establish an approach based on the economic viability of various manufacturing and retail alternatives that will protect the tax base.

Vania Wasim
I assume this is referring to the Sobeys and Longo’s plazas situated along Laird Ave. They’ve already benefitted Leaside residents by converting previous industrial areas to shopping malls within walking distance of some and easy driving distance of others. Convenient and aesthetically pleasing, they provide additional tax revenue, employment, services/growth.