Toronto Star pans Ward 5 incumbents

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.

Welcome to Ward 5. Nominations for Toronto Council extended.

The new ward map of Toronto. Wards 11 and 12 have merged to become the new Ward 5.

One of the quirks of the new ‘slimline council’ legislation is that nominations for Toronto councillors (and trustees) were re-opened on Monday. People who feel that their chances might be better running in the larger York South-Weston ward (now Ward 5) have another chance to throw their hats in the ring and face off against incumbents Frances Nunziata (formerly Ward 11) and Frank DiGiorgio (formerly Ward 12). There are a few well known politicians living in York South-Weston Ward 5 who no doubt will be mulling over the possibility of running; taking advantage of the vote being split between the two incumbents. Current main opposition to the incumbents, Chiara Padovani is mounting a vigorous campaign and has set up headquarters in Mount Dennis while a former Ward 12 contender from 2014 is Lekan Olawoye who has withdrawn.

I’m running for City Councillor in York South-Weston but I’m doing things differently. #ItsTimeForChange #TOpoli #YSW

Since I’m not accepting donations from corporate interests or developers, every $25 donation counts that much more. Join our movement: https://t.co/VJXDu3cYYY. pic.twitter.com/o4xjyjPMPJ— Chiara Padovani (@chipadovani) August 21, 2018

Will any of Weston’s political figures be tempted to step into the fray? Strange things can happen in the midst of chaos. For the latest list of candidates use this link.

Previous 47-seat council nominees are required to declare their intention to remain as candidates and all nominations will close at 2:00 pm on September 14 – less than six weeks from the election date of October 22.

Incidentally, Ms. Padovani should do her supporters a favour and ask for contributions over $25 – small contributions over $25 get a 75% rebate. The full rebate table is here.

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.

Two new entrants in race for councillor

To nobody’s surprise, incumbent Frances Nunziata has  entered the race to Frances Nunziatabe Ward 11’s city councillor. Nunziata has been a politician for more than 30 years, and our councillor since the ward was created. She is also City Hall’s speaker.

Another candidate, whom I have had not had the pleasure of meeting, has also thrown his hat into the ring. Luis Portillo used to work for Seaton House, a homeless shelter, as a client services worker.

Interesting Twitter exchange between Nunziata and Ferreira.

Longtime local political operative and former York South-Weston MPP, Paul Ferreira had an exchange of views on Twitter a couple of days ago. In a tweet, local Councillor Frances Nunziata claims that for years she has advocated direct TTC service along St Clair Avenue West from Gunns Loop to Scarlett Road.

Here’s the original tweet and the replies:

Did I mention we love elections here at WestonWeb?

2346 Weston Road affordable rentals ‘open house’.

The 2346 Weston Road site. From architect’s plans.

Toronto with a vacancy rate of 1.1% needs lots more rental apartments, especially affordable ones.  Very few have been built in recent years thanks to rent controls keeping margins low and there being much more money in building and selling condos. City incentives are in place to encourage new rental buildings. I attended an ‘open house’ last night held at 1901 Weston regarding an application to build an affordable rental building at 2346 Weston Road.

Quite a few people attended but there was no presentation made, organizers choosing to scatter their people around the room and answer questions one at a time. Councillor Nunziata was on hand too.

A typical floor layout proposed for 2346 Weston Road. Click to enlarge.

The development will be a 15 storey building; the typical floor having 11 apartments as in the floor plan above; rents will not exceed the amounts posted below – 2018 numbers:

  • 1 studio apartment – 280 square feet – $922 monthly
  • 6 – 1 bedroom apartments – 409 – 473 square feet – $1,097 monthly
  • 3 – 2 bedroom apartments – 570 – 635 square feet – $1,284 monthly
  • 1 – 3 bedroom apartment – 807 square feet. – $1,477 monthly
  • No balconies
  • Each apartment will have one bathroom only.
  • The building will have one elevator.
  • There will be 52 underground parking spaces.
  • Heating will be forced-air gas and the building will not be air conditioned.
  • Tenants will pay their own utilities
  • Residents may install their own window air conditioners.
  • Rents will be controlled / held to inflation for 25 years.
  • The building owner will get property tax breaks and other financial incentives.

Comments: If we are trying to keep low income people in one area, this building will do the job and fit quite nicely into the current stock of accommodations along Weston Road. In fact, it may even be more bare-bones and certainly less roomy than others along the strip. It’s great that affordable rentals are being built but does Weston have to roll over and be grateful for what is just a modern-day continuation of the awful apartments of the 70s? The place won’t even be air conditioned – in 2018.

52 parking spaces would be admirable for a downtown building with 157 apartments. In Weston, not so much.

The fact that there will be one elevator serving 157 apartments and two levels of underground parking will be a serious issue when it inevitably fails and vulnerable tenants are stuck on upper floors.

Can we not do better than this?

For comparison, the renovated rental building next door has a spacious 2-bedroom 1-bathroom apartment with balcony going for $1300 monthly. Utilities included.

Read the complete set of application documents here.

There was a form handed out at the meeting requesting comments on the proposal. The application reference number is: 18 120119WET 11 OZ.  Email Councillor Nunziata with your comments at: councillor_nunziata@toronto.ca

The true measure of any society is how it treats its most vulnerable members. Gandhi.

Meeting about severing 135 John

Nunziata’s office will be hosting a meeting to consider whether the owner of 135 John should be allowed to sever the lot and construct two new homes, with 8m wide lots.

The meeting will be at 7 pm on Monday, January 29 at Weston Memorial, . The owners will be there to present their case.

The OMB recently recently rejected a similar case just down the street at 96 John, in which the owners had asked to create two 7.5m lots. That appeal was denied on the grounds that the smaller lots would destabilize the character of the neighbourhood.