Let’s start with this: Frances Nunziata is an excellent retail politician. If you call her, she will call you back. If you need something done, she’ll get it done.
But Weston has been suffering under her watch. Stores along Weston Road are struggling. Transit is gasping. We seem to be in a constant state of construction and disruption, and our town is getting very little out of work that will benefit everyone but us. Something is wrong.
And though this is not entirely Nunziata’s fault (she did not invent the digital camera that killed Kodak), Nunziata’s politics are not helping.
Frances—can I call her Frances?—is part of Ford Nation. She believes in subways, cars, and low taxes. She believes in business, the little guy, public-private-partnerships, and small government. And these are good things. Except for Weston.
They’re not what Weston needs right now. Weston needs public infrastructure and public goods. These are things that increased taxes buy.
What kind of public goods? Things that will make Weston a more pleasant place to do business and a more delightful place to live. Off the top of my head:
- A city-subsidized childcare would make this a more desirable neighbourhood for young couples. We used to have one.
- Functioning, funded transit
- Buses, buses, buses. Bus infrastructure. Express buses. Articulated buses. Decent bus shelters (why do we wait outside in the winter?)
- Bike paths
- Join the Humber gap, create safe bike infrastructure to get to the GO, and build a bike path along Wilson to join North York and Toronto.
- Build a path south to the Junction and Bloor. It’s impossible to get there now by bike.
- Public art
- Work with the BIA to make Weston Road lovely again
- Trees and parks
- Trees along Weston Road and Jane Streets would calm traffic and noise and create a nicer pedestrian environment
- The dilapidated houses on Weston must be expropriated and demolished.
- Indoor community spaces.
- A YMCA would be great, but let’s start small. There are no community programs at schools in Weston. Why not? The Elms and Amesbury have them. Weston could too.
These require taxes, government, patience, and cooperation. These are not the beliefs of Ford Nation.
You might then think that Dory Chalhoub would be my endorsement.
He is not.
Calhoub has guts. He’s running on a shoestring budget against an entrenched opponent. He shows up, he campaigns, and he tries. And he ought, above all, to be commended for that. I salute him wholeheartedly for his noble, and Quixotic, campaign.
But I cannot endorse him.
While Chalhoub he has put himself forward as the person to fix the riding he, too, appears to be fiscally conservative, and as long as he thinks that we can fix our problems without working together—and that’s just another way of saying “taxes”—then he is mistaken.
He has no experience. Chalhoub says that every new candidate starts off without it. True. But other candidates prove themselves in the minor leagues before trying out for the majors: Chalhoub, as far as I know, has not been much involved in the riding, certainly not in Weston or Mount Dennis.
Dory—can I call him Dory?—also lacks vision. He did not respond to PositionPrimer or InsideToronto to give details about his platform. (Nunziata did.) Dory did not even disclose which mayoral candidate he would back—surely the shortest cut to a platform he could take. His website is incomplete (the links to his policy pages are broken), he has no social media, and even the photos on his website are clipart: in this beautiful town, he chose a picture from Hamilton to represent neighbourhood beauty.
If I didn’t know better, I’d say he’s running on a very simple platform: “Not Nunziata. But close.” The lack of policy could be intentional. Like staring at clouds, we can see what we want to.
Our choice, then, is between two unsatisfactory candidates, neither of whom seems to have a long-term vision for Weston.
I cannot endorse either.