Nunziata supports smaller council

Frances Nunziata supports Doug Ford’s plan to shrink Toronto City Council.

Nunziata and 10 other incumbents held a press conference lending their support to Ford’s plan. Doing so, they sided against John Tory, the mayor.

Wags on Twitter suggested that they could immediately make City Council smaller  by resigning.

Upcoming events

Registration has begun for the Weston Library’s STEM camp, which runs from August 20 to August 24. It sounds great.

The Toronto Police will be hosting a meeting on Project Patton and gang involvment on Thursday, August 2 from 7–9.

I would be remiss if I didn’t point out the  charged exhortation to “Take back your neighbourhood!”, which I wasn’t aware we had ever lost.

Padovani takes credit for Nunziata’s vote

Chiara Padovani’s campaign is taking credit for her opponent’s vote in City Council.

Frances Nunziata voted against a motion that would give $419 million in tax relief to developers. The motion was all-but defeated in a 20-20 vote, and only one development received money by the time the amendments were done.

Padovani said:

I’m so glad to see that our campaign’s pressure to not give hand-outs to developers persuaded Councillor Nunziata to vote this way. This comes after months of community advocacy and organizing.

That may be a bit rich. I have my doubts that Nunziata voted to appease her  critics; I’ll bet she voted against the proposal because it wasn’t in her own ward and would have beggared the city.

Speaking of which, Padovani went on to write:

However, the Councillor has been pushing for the waiving of development charges in Ward 11’s Mount Dennis for years. Mount Dennis is on it’s [sic] way to becoming a pilot project for the waiving of development charges needed to fund our services.

This is wrong-headed. Dropping development charges in Mount Dennis would be good for the riding. It would encourage development, create more housing, and put downward pressure on home prices—an idea Padovani enthusiastically endorses.

There’s only one problem with it: development charges are a zero-sum game, and if we don’t pay them, someone (i.e. the rest of the city) must. We would be beggaring our neighbours—which councillors, as advocates for their own ridings and not their neighbours’—must do.

Hassan speaks in the House, gets new role

Faisal Hassan, our newly-elected MPP, has had a busy couple of weeks in the House. He argued against legislating York faculty back to work, and he brought up the proposed meat-packing plant in Rockclife: “Instead of a long-awaited park being constructed in the community, the lot was sold through a closed-door bidding process. Now there will be no chance to modernize the area. That means no stores, no small businesses or even a park.”

To the new PC government’s credit, they listened to his concerns. I must say, I am very surprised.

Hon. Jim Wilson: To the honourable member: Certainly we’d be very interested in learning more details about this case….

I will certainly work with you and get back to you and answer your questions fully to the satisfaction hopefully of yourselves and your constituents. Please send us more information.

Hassan was also nominated to a rather dry-sounding role on the Standing Committee on the Legislative Assembly, which oversees  bills, “agendas, Hansard transcripts and meeting notices.”

All candidates in

Today is the last day to throw a hat in the ring to become city councillor, [Never mind. Doug Ford changed the rules] Ward 11 has seen a few new entrants for the city council race.

Only three of the entrants have online profiles, and I think even fewer of the candidates will be serious.

Last night, Weston’s own mayoral candidate, Saron Gebresellassi launched her campaign. Gebresellassi is a long-shot candidate, to be sure, but she is among the most serious candidates, and has a left-leaning platform that distinguishes her campaign from John Tory’s.

Ford disrupts Toronto Council

So it’s official; Doug Ford, disrupting in the style of Donald Trump, will soon present legislation to axe the number of Toronto wards from what would have been 47 to 25. Ford, looking confident and as if he is hitting his stride, made the announcement at a press conference this morning. Calling Toronto Council, ‘The most dysfunctional arena in the country’, he  revealed that city wards will be gone; instead, councillors will represent areas that are identical to federal / provincial ridings. After the next election, Wards 11 and 12 will be known as York South-Weston and represented by just one councillor.

Locally, Frances Nunziata and Frank DiGiorgio represent York South-Weston at Council and one of those two will not be returning after October if they both choose to fight for the YSW seat.  Many other familiar faces will not be back after October. The bad news is that it might be harder to get in touch with a councillor who will now have twice as many constituents. On the plus side, a smaller number at council meetings will find the process of passing legislation quicker and easier. A smaller number will mean greater name recognition, scrutiny and accountability for individual councillors.

There will be a lot of people very disappointed with the decision. There will be worries about a loss of democracy and representation. There may be a legal challenge. The bottom line is that in Ontario, city councils are ‘creatures of  the province’ and the higher level of government holds sway.

I don’t think anyone will miss a larger council’s decisions despite the recent flurry of common sense legislation coming from the rotunda this week (apart from ShotSpotter). Frankly, the record of Toronto Council is lousy. These are the people who have brought us neglect and mismanagement of public housing and transit, a subservience to developers, a proposed one-stop subway, threadbare infrastructure and dangerous streets for pedestrians and cyclists. On that basis alone, at least half deserve to be turfed. Will fewer councillors produce a less democratic council? With many wards failing to achieve a 50% election turnout, probably no less democratic than it is today.

Nominations for council have been extended until Sept 14 but the election date will still be Oct 22.