The Toronto Star Editorial Board has made its quadrennial candidate endorsements for Toronto’s newly shrunken wards. The Editorial Board is once again unimpressed with the current incumbents. They bluntly state, “Frank Di Giorgio and Frances Nunziata, should be sent to pasture.”. Four years ago, The Star said of Frances Nunziata, “Painfully ineffective in recent years, she has been one of council’s most complacent Ford followers.”. 2014’s opposition to Frances Nunziata, Jose Garcia and Dory Chalhoub failed to get their campaigns off the ground. While Mr. Chalhoub successfully argued that Ms. Nunziata had done little to help her constituents, his and Mr. Garcia’s rightward leanings put them on a par with her politically. Despite endorsements from the Star (and Weston Web – go figure) Mr. Garcia and Mr. Chalhoub placed a distant second and third respectively.
This time there are two strong candidates among those opposing the incumbents and both are left-leaning.
The Star’s Board has given the nod to Lekan Olawoye as their 2018 choice for councillor stating, “His work on talent development at MaRS and numerous community organizations make him well placed to constructively address the issues facing youth and marginalized communities.”. The other local candidate, Chiara Padovani has built an impressive campaign and will no doubt take issue with the Star’s pick.
The good news for them is that the vote will be somewhat split between the two incumbents. The bad news is that the anti-incumbent vote will also be spread between multiple candidates, thus diluting any movement for change. That’s why all candidates will be working hard to ensure that as many people as possible get out to the polls next Monday.
Voter participation in 2014 was 53% in old Ward 11 and 55% in old Ward 12. There is plenty of room to improve as some Toronto wards had a voter turnout of over 70% that year. This compared to an average of 60.4% in Toronto as a whole. A similarly low turnout in Ward 5 this year will probably result in one of the incumbents being sent back to city hall.
Candidate for the new York South-Weston Ward 5 council seat, Chiara Padovani has requested an extension of the advanced polling deadline. Advanced polls are set to close at 7:00pm today but Padovani says that residents have had difficulty in reaching the polls (both in the former Ward 12) because of traffic congestion.
*For immediate release*
I’ve requested that the City Clerk’s Office extend Advanced Voting in York South-Weston for an additional two days.
Jennifer Keesmaat is promising that if she is elected mayor on October 22nd, she will switch three city owned golf courses to ‘community spaces’ with a wider variety of uses. The courses are Scarlett Wood on Eglinton between Jane and Scarlett, Don Valley Golf Course and Dentonia Park Golf Course. Keesmaat claims that the courses, lose money, are rarely used and are open less than six months a year. Instead, she is proposing other uses such as sports pitches, cycling and walking trails and says that local communities should be consulted as to the best uses of the space.
The conversion of the Scarlett Wood course to new uses would give local citizens a great opportunity to re-think public land use and it’s a common sense approach to ensuring that city owned land is used for the benefit of a wider group of people. This would add a large parcel of green space and river frontage to the already considerable recreational facilities around the Jane and Eglinton intersection.
Uber and UP Express have worked a mutual deal so that Uber will have a designated pick-up spot at Weston Station. Logically, it makes sense for Metrolinx to provide alternatives to parking at the much used station. The plan all along has been for Metrolinx to eventually sell much of the current parking space to developers.
Dave Bennett is a busy man with deep ties to the Weston community. Apart from helping raise a family of four, he has been active as a volunteer in Weston for quite a while having been a member of the Weston Residents’ Association for many years and is now the chair. He is past president and current board member of the Weston Heritage Conservation District, volunteers with Weston Minor Hockey, has coached house league for almost 15 years, has supervised a division for 9 and has been a VP for the past few years.
His role as a parent at St John the Evangelist Catholic School has now ended (his youngest child graduated last year) and Dave is now community relations advisor to its Parent Council having been chair for many years. As a result of his knowledge and experience, he feels he can make a contribution in terms of the way schools are run in York South Weston and has entered the race to become a school trustee with the Toronto Catholic District School Board. When asked about his chances of winning, Dave feels that his chances are pretty good. This is not a surprise considering that Mr. Bennett is used to achieving things in his life.
Dave says that the new school was long overdue and tells me that the old (now demolished) building was really two additions joined together. The original school at 23 George Street was added on to when more space was needed and later when enrolment increased, the older building was replaced with yet another addition. In later years the school needed twelve portables to accommodate students. The new building will be almost twice the size of the old one and will even have room for 36 day-care students. He modestly points out that many people are responsible for the new building’s existence, including former MPP Laura Albanese. He is obviously proud of the new school and easily rattles off facts and figures along with other details of its unique construction. At the moment, SJTE students are being accommodated a few minutes’ away at St Philip Neri on Beverly Hills Drive near Jane and Wilson.
He proudly points out that the new school field rests on a styrofoam base inside a giant concrete container covering the UP Express and GO Train tracks. The styrofoam helps reduce the load on the tunnel while not being deep enough for the field to float during heavy rains .
While his children are now too old to attend the new school, he feels some satisfaction in knowing that future generations of Westonians will enjoy the new facilities which will open in September 2019.
Getting back to his passion for hockey, Dave says his neighbours are always impressed by the timing of the Bennett annual backyard rinks, built following Farmers’ Almanac winter forecasts. Dave says that the Almanac hasn’t let him down yet. Based on their forecast, expect to see the family rink by mid-December at the latest.
Premier Doug Ford’s surprise re-alignment of city wards from 47 to 25 seats has been kicked into touch by a Superior Court judge this morning after a challenge by a group of concerned citizens. The judge cited the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and called his legislation unconstitutional. He made it clear that Ford’s actions were unjustifiable. No doubt Mr. Ford will be railing at ‘elite’ judges this morning but he now finds himself in a serious quagmire with his latest legal setback. If he doesn’t appeal, there’s just enough time for the election to go ahead with 47 seats instead of Ford’s 25 that would have matched provincial ridings. These 47 seats were the result of much consultation and expense to better reflect increased populations in the downtown core. The 47 seat count is likely to produce several more left-wing councillors as downtowners tend to vote in that direction.
If Ford appeals, either the October 22 poll date will have to be delayed – a decision will take weeks – or we’ll keep the original date and hold a 25-seat election. Either way, an appeal will be a disruptive and constitutionally risky event.
What’s a premier to do? My guess is that he will forego the appeal but ask his lawyers to look for ways to sideline Council’s future decisions. One idea already floated is to expropriate important City assets such as our subway system.
Locally, Ward 11 Councillor Frances Nunziata will not be facing Ward 12’s Frank Di Giorgio and Ms. Nunziata’s main challenger, Chiara Padovani will now be able to focus her finances and resources on our section of York South-Weston. On the other side of the water, in Greater Weston™, it’s back to being in Ward 2, most likely represented by (barring an apocalyctic event) Premier Ford’s nephew Mike.
A stream of people could be seen arriving today at the official opening of Chiara Padovani’s campaign headquarters at 1289 Weston Road. Ms Padovani is running for a seat on Toronto Council in the new Ward 5 which comprises old Wards 11 and 12.
Ms Padovani is running against two incumbents, Frank Di Giorgio and Frances Nunziata as well as a handful of not so well-known hopefuls. For the full list, check out Adam’s unscientific reader poll.