Toronto election 2014: Ward 31 candidates

Welcome to the first of three issues of Toronto municipal election coverage in Beach Metro Community News.

In this issue, we feature candidates for city councillor in Ward 31, which covers the east half of the former East York. Ward 31 roughly includes the area bounded by Coxwell Avenue on the west, Victoria Park Avenue on the east, Sunrise Avenue to the north, and Danforth Avenue to the south. Beach Metro News is distributed to Toronto East General Hospital and a number of streets north of Danforth.

Also included in this issue are school trustee candidates for both the public and Catholic school boards.

Two Ward 31 council candidates did not respond to requests to fill out our questionnaire: Stephen Prince and Bob Smith. Ward 16 TDSB candidate Navarius Mombo did not reply, nor did TCDSB Ward 11 candidate Christmas Sy.

Our Oct. 7 issue will cover the 12 candidates signed up to run in Ward 32, our main coverage area, while Ward 36, which includes Cliffside and Birch Cliff, will be covered in the Oct. 21 issue, ahead of the general election on Oct. 27.

Janet Davis www.janetdaviscampaign.ca

Janet Davis has lived in Ward 31 with her family for 25 years.

Janet Davis
Janet Davis

She is an early childhood educator and worked as a child care program advisor at the Toronto District School Board, and as president of the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care and senior policy advisor to the Minister of Education. She led the Campaign for Public Education and East End Save Our Pools Committee. Since being elected in 2003, Janet has served on the administration and public works committees, library and public health boards. She helped establish BIAs, Ward 31 Bikes, and tenant and parks groups.

1. What is the main reason you decided to run for Ward 31 councillor?

I’m proud of the important improvements we have achieved together – but there is much more to do. I want to continue working with residents and community groups to keep our parks and streets clean, beautiful, active and safe, make city services better and more responsive, revitalize the Danforth, replace lead water pipes and upgrade sewer infrastructure, rebuild the Dawes Road Library and 54 Police Division, expand cultural activities through East End Arts, and restore Taylor Massey Creek and Park.

2. What are your ideas for public transit in Ward 31?

The City must adopt a long-term transit expansion plan – and stick to it. The plan should be embedded in our Official Plan and sustained through election cycles. I support building a relief line and integrating fares and transfers from Main Street station to the Danforth GO to reduce subway crowding.

3. What is your position on condo buildings on the Danforth?

I support “mid-rise” development on Danforth but it must be responsive and reasonable. The height, density and design must be compatible with the surrounding neighbourhood, and reflect the pedestrian and small retail character of Danforth.

4. How would you enhance efforts to revitalize the commercial areas along East Danforth?

I will work with our BIAs and other community members to extend improvements along the Danforth.  I will continue working with Danforth East Community Association and Woodgreen Community Services to encourage pop-up shops. I will continue to press for provincial regulation changes to the vacant property rebate program.

5. What do you view as the main issue for Ward 31?

People across Ward 31 want a city that works for themselves and their community. Everyone should expect – and receive – efficient, responsive customer service from every city department.

Brenda MacDonald www.brendaward31.com

Brenda MacDonald is a well-known music educator and singer who is politically active.

Brenda MacDonald
Brenda MacDonald

She has been ‘working’ for her neighbours in Ward 31 of Toronto by staying informed and informing others. She has over 25 years work experience in education, facilities and maintenance. She completed her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology at York University and attended Humber College of Art and Design. Brenda was part of a team that achieved Platinum Eco-School Status in East York.

1. What is the main reason you decided to run for Ward 31 councillor?

I am running for City Council as there is no coordination in any of the communication to ward 31 citizens.

2. What are your ideas for public transit in Ward 31?

Ward 31 requires a much needed relief line along the Danforth subway line, as well as an extensive look at how much service we require and where. If our subway stations are not accessible, not all people can use them.

3. What is your position on condo buildings on the Danforth?

Toronto City Council has not provided every taxpayer with the needed information to be informed about this question. Our understanding must include, are these buildings 19, 18 or 17 stories high?

4. How would you enhance efforts to revitalize the commercial areas along East Danforth?

I would elect new council.

5. What do you view as the main issue for Ward 31?

The main issue for Ward 31 is a lack of coordinated communication to ward 31 citizens. People have a right to be informed.

George Papadakis www.georgepapadakis.ca

George Papadakis grew up in Thessaloniki, Greece.

George Papadakis
George Papadakis

He received a degree in business and tourism from Technological & Educational Institute in 1991. He served two years of compulsory army duty, and immigrated to Toronto in 1989. He attended George Brown College and worked for 23 years as the chief operating engineer at Q.M.P. – T.A.L. He is a member of  the Canadian Emergency Preparedness Association, and involved with several Hellenic organizations. He has been married to Tasy for 24 years. They are proud parents of Zak and Nicholas.

1. What is the main reason you decided to run for Ward 31 councillor?

I believe a higher standard is required for the worthy station of city hall. The rampant dysfunction there inspired me to put my name forward for Ward 31. I’ve always believed in Plato’s axiom: One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.

2. What are your ideas for public transit in Ward 31?

I believe we have to have immediate action to resolve critical shortages to our transit infrastructure. Subways are my preference as they allow surface traffic to continue unimpeded. Both east and west downtown relief lines are necessary. A direct underground pedestrian link [between Main Street station and the Danforth GO station] has merit.

3. What is your position on condo buildings on the Danforth?

The city has already authorized increased density along the Danforth. Although Toronto may need to build up to grow, it seems city planners haven’t surveyed the community on how this growth should be developed. The community feels that these developments have been forced on them.

4. How would you enhance efforts to revitalize the commercial areas along East Danforth?

A main issue I’m hearing is about the higher costs of energy and that brings cost uncertainty to all businesses. By controlling energy costs, entrepreneurs will invest in these vacant retail and commercial spaces.

5. What do you view as the main issue for Ward 31?

In Ward 31, Taylor Massey Creek and Don Valley green spaces are very important natural ecosystems. We are very fortunate to have such wilderness within our city limits. Information from the city clearly shows that Taylor Massey Creek is the highest polluting tributary into the Don River. We must act now.

Russell Rahman russellrahman.ca

I have been actively involved with politics for 11 years, and made a bid for city council in 2010.

Russell Rahman
Russell Rahman

Originally from Bangladesh, I came to Canada in 2003, and am married with two children. I have several small businesses, including a micromall for entrepreneurs, the East Yorker community newspaper, East York’s local radio station EYradio.com, and I am the publisher of eydirectory.ca. I am on the board of the Danforth Village BIA. I am president of the non-profit Organization of South Asian Art and Culture, and am a graduate of film and television studies at Ryerson.

1. What is the main reason you decided to run for Ward 31 councillor?

I feel I could be a strong and practical councillor, one who really understands the neighbourhood. I feel Ward 31 is not as well-served as it could be. There are issues I want to address and resolve, such as safer streets, and overall safety and security.

2. What are your ideas for public transit in Ward 31?

I strongly support connecting the Main Street TTC station to the Danforth GO station, for a transit hub and easier travel connections.

3. What is your position on condo buildings on the Danforth?

I support quality low- to mid-rise condo buildings, with a mix of retail on ground floors, to help enhance and upgrade the retail sector on the Danforth. Property values in the area will rise from this kind of development.

4. How would you enhance efforts to revitalize the commercial areas along East Danforth?

Improve both facades and interiors, and work to resolve the issues of empty and rundown storefronts. Empty retail spaces can be used for pop-up stores. I would also increase strong lighting and security – like surveillance cameras. A revitalized area is also a safe area, and one that people feel comfortable in.

5. What do you view as the main issue for Ward 31?

One of the issues I want to address most is that of safety and security. I would like to work to ensure the safety of all, from children going to school, to seniors and disabled citizens. But I am also concerned about the fact our community has had problems with drugs, violence, theft, break-ins, and even murder. I will push for stronger lighting, signage and surveillance cameras, and feel this can increase chances of lawbreakers actually being caught.

Janet Sherbanowski sherbanowski.ca

I have been involved in the community since my children were at Secord School.

Janet Sharbanowski
Janet Sherbanowski

Recently I was executive director of the Crime Prevention Association of Toronto.  I am a board member of Ontario Healthy Communities Coalition. I have been an entrepreneur for most of my working life as a business journalist. I have lived, worked and played in Ward 31 for most of my life and am aware of the issues families face daily. I studied at Centennial College as an adult and continue to learn something new every day, about my community, my world and myself.

1. What is the main reason you decided to run for Ward 31 councillor?

Two years ago the office of the Crime Prevention Association moved into Ward 31. Since then we have stagnated while other communities have grown; we have moved backwards in terms of business while others have prospered. I think we can do better and I believe that we need a municipal champion in Ward 31 who understands and will support the people and businesses of the Ward.

2. What are your ideas for public transit in Ward 31?

While I prefer subways in the normal course of growth, I will vote for the Smart Track option coming to Main Street. The connection of Main Subway to our GO station will provide new traffic to our business and revitalize our community.

3. What is your position on condo buildings on the Danforth?

I whole-heartedly advocate condo/retail low-rise development on Danforth, Woodbine, O’Connor and St. Clair.

4. How would you enhance efforts to revitalize the commercial areas along East Danforth?

I would like to see walking encouraged by continuing to fix sidewalks, provide better lighting during the evening hours, attractive evening clubs and bars with outside patios and enforcing parking.

5. What do you view as the main issue for Ward 31?

The economic prosperity of our area is key to the safety and health of Ward 31. I would research and introduce a motion to offer a tax rebate on property tax to businesses across the city who hire someone within walking distance of their establishment. This would reduce traffic, increase healthy activity, reduce pollution, take some strain off the transit system and encourage jobs in local communities.

Michael Sokovnin

Michael Sokovnin is a teacher, coach and mentor in Scarborough and now at the TDSB.

Michael Sokovnin
Michael Sokovnin

He graduated from East York Collegiate Institute and the University of Toronto with a BA and a  B Ed. He ran for councillor of Ward 1 in East York in 1993, but lost to Case Ootes and Michael Prue.

1. What is the main reason you decided to run for Ward 31 councillor?

My reason for running is try to control the wasteful spending of public money by city councillors who are trying to push through their personal agendas. Councillors have to be fiscally responsible in these troubling economic times. East York used to be the jewel of Toronto – “Canada’s only borough” was the motto. Since amalgamation, it has lost its identity. It has been sacrificed for the advancement of downtown sprawl. Crime is on the rise. I want to tackle these issues as aggressively as I tackled opponents playing for East York CI and University of Toronto.

2. What are your ideas for public transit in Ward 31?

I am very much for upgrading the subway stations for accessibility reasons. As a person with a walking impairment, I do feel a need to help the physically challenged. I would be interested supporting a plan to build an underground walkway from Main subway station to the GO train station south of Danforth Avenue.

3. What is your position on condo buildings on the Danforth?

I am against any new condo/commercial buildings on the Danforth. There is far too much urban sprawl in East York and the rest of Toronto.

4. How would you enhance efforts to revitalize the commercial areas along East Danforth?

East Danforth is quite vibrant but needs a slight face lift. I would try to encourage businesses in the area to upgrade their establishments.

5. What do you view as the main issue for Ward 31?

The biggest issue is leadership in Ward 31. If you care about your public money and you believe in fiscal responsibility, then I would recommend you vote for me.

Mark Turnbull

Mark Turnbull is a carpenter, project supervisor, and specialist in historical restoration.

Mark Turnbull
Mark Turnbull

I have supervised whole or partial portion restorations of many city and government buildings you might know, including the Beaches fire hall, the RC Harris filtration plant, and Queen’s Park. I can cite countless examples where the city might have cut waste or found contractual savings. I would bring superlative expertise to any heritage file, and general expertise to the infrastructure file. I had some education at Queens University in economics, but due to personal circumstances was forced to discontinue. I was licensed by the province in 1991, and am a card-carrying union member.

1. What is the main reason you decided to run for Ward 31 councillor?

I am a candidate running with a personal cause of two platform planks. One is our Charter rights, the second is sound economy. I live on an unusual block that fronts on one avenue and backs on another. On our backing avenue, we are fenced out and barred access. Where ample parking would be available, on our own lands, the people are denied. We must park on the front avenue and suffer the tickets, which speaks to the concept of ‘differential treatment.’ I’m forced to fetch tools from a truck parked far from storage, and effectively denied property essential to income. This speaks to Charter legal concepts of ‘security of person,’ as well as equality issues. The councillor was little help, dismissing a block petition without a hearing or presentation to council.

2. What are your ideas for public transit in Ward 31?

Primary to my platform is universal access, so I support upgrades for that reason.

3. What is your position on condo buildings on the Danforth?

I support the work condos bring, and the intensification of urban population. The Carmelina on Danforth at Woodbine seems a tasteful addition, and brings much needed consumers to the area.

4. How would you enhance efforts to revitalize the commercial areas along East Danforth?

Revitalization will come with intensification and more customers.

5. What do you view as the main issue for Ward 31?

It disturbs me that the councillor would be able to unilaterally dismiss a people’s petition, without addressing it to council, so I think the main issue is to oust a restrictive influence on council. We need term limits. Let councillors expire after three terms in one ward.


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