As of this morning I am a candidate for city councillor in Toronto’s Ward 27. After months of consultation and contemplation, I’ve come to the conclusion that this municipal election represents an exciting and unique opportunity for us as residents to, in one small but significant way, seize control of our own democracy and build the kind of community we want.
In one sense, city governance is about a set of very practical things like roads, garbage collection, sewers, and so on. It’s important that these areas are addressed properly and with sound judgment. In addition, however, city governance defines the kind of world we live in. We interact with municipal government services more than those of any other government, and in many ways those services have the largest immediate impact on our quality of life. When we talk about city building and when we elect a city council, we’re deciding what kind of neighbourhood we live in, what our commute to work is like, what kinds of activities we can easily enjoy on the evenings and weekends, what kind of education our children receive, and what it means to exist as a diverse community of equals.
And yet, we tend to pay very little attention to municipal politics, and I doubt there are even many city councillors who would argue we have the kind of governance we can be proud of, the kind of vision we should aspire to, the kind of representation we deserve.
I’m running to be Ward 27’s next councillor because I’ve lived here for a decade, I attended and graduated from university here, and I think we deserve better.
Recognizing that there will be a lot of time to discuss specific policy positions throughout the campaign, in these early days there are three areas I would like to lift up.
First, anyone elected to city council will need to address the very serious and imminent financial crisis. The city must get its house in order and Torontonians expect to see better value for their tax dollars. That will mean finding new creative sources of revenue as well as targeted cost containment. The unrelenting wave of perpetual property tax increases we’ve become used to is not only bad policy, it’s unimaginative. In short, through smart development and planning I will focus on expanding the tax base, not the tax burden.
Second, we expect more from our transit system. Too many of us know the frustration of waiting for a bus that never comes, or watching a full streetcar pass us by as we stand with our Metropass or transfer in hand. While it is true that the TTC is underfunded by provincial and federal levels of government, we need to move from making excuses to finding solutions. We don’t do that by blaming others or creating divisions, we do it by articulating the kind of system we want and a plan to get there together.
Finally, much of what a city councillor does is concerned with building the kind of city we want, whether that means working with developers and residents on a new residential or commercial building or negotiating how our streets are equitably shared among pedestrians, cyclists, transit users and drivers. I will approach these conversations in a way that is open and inclusive, seeking to build common ground. And I will be mindful not only of our ward’s current needs, but also the kind of city we’ll be proud to have created further down the road.
In addition to these larger areas, I’ll enter into dialogue with residents and stakeholders from each of our neighbourhoods about what specific issues we should work on together over the next four years. For example, a conversation about Church Street’s accidental evolution is long overdue, and as a community we need to address what kind of Church Street we want. (Update: conversation about this in the comments.)
Let’s be clear: we can win this campaign, and I can’t tell you how grateful I am to those of you who have already offered your support. It’s a long time until election day on October 25th, and there’s much to be done. Let’s get to work.
12 thoughts on “Announcing my candidacy for Toronto City Council, Ward 27”
Good luck, Chris. I think you will be an excellent City Councilor.
I agree we need to collectively articulate what kind of community we want, and work together to create systems to get us there. You have my support.
I’m very exited to hear you are throwing your hat into the ring, Chris. Can’t wait to work on your campaign!
Great news!–A seasoned pro who is also Green (but not behind the ears!) best..james dubro
Good luck Chris! Wish I could volunteer for your campaign! I checked a map though, Ward 27 is like totally a long way from Ottawa. ;)
“For example, a conversation about Church Streetâ€™s accidental evolution is long overdue, and as a community we need to address what kind of Church Street we want.”
Could you please clarify what this means
@JBD Here’s a short answer for now, though a longer one will come soon as well. The Church and Wellesley neighbourhood has been critical for the LGBT community for decades, and Church Street has become its heart. Like any area it has gone through many natural changes, but recently the changes along Church have raised concerns (most notably due to the loss of many businesses). We could euphemistically call this a period of “transition,” while some have called it a crisis. I use the words “accidental evolution” because there does not appear to be a clear plan or direction supported by the community. I’m in the early stages of bringing stakeholders together to discuss what Church should look like in the near and more distant future. My assumption is that it should continue to be a vibrant hub for Toronto’s LGBTQ community; the question is, what should that hub now look like? How have the needs of that community changed? Those are not questions I presume to be able to answer alone, I only hope to facilitate the dialog and help it move forward. Finally, this will be an open process, so please consider this an invitation to be involved.
Does that help clarify?
As a gay person who has lived in the “village” since I moved to Toronto 10 years ago, I agree 100% Chris with your outlook on this subject. However, one could see this as a wider acceptance to the gay community as gay owned business are now spreading through-out Toronto. For me, I feel this is was a positive move of unconditional acceptance towards gays, lesbian businesses.
You can have my vote if you say you are in favour of the bike lane on Jarvis.
I am, in fact, supportive of expanding our city’s cycling infrastructure, including bike lanes on Jarvis. You can read more of my thoughts on “complete streets” by clicking here.