Nunziata votes to take province to court

Frances Nunziata voted to fight the province over the Conservatives’ plan to reduce the number of council seats to 25.

By Antonella Artuso, Toronto Sun

Doug Ford’s party had cut the size of city council in half, midway through an election and without any warning.

City Council voted on Tuesday to go to court and restart the election process, in the unlikely event they win the case.

Frances Nunziata has been inconsistent on the issue. She supported the plan when it was first announced, then said it shouldn’t have been announced in the middle of an election cycle.

Frank DiGiorgio, who is also running in the new Ward 5, voted against going to court.

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and has set up headquarters in Mount Dennis while a former Ward 12 contender from 2014 is Lekan Olawoye who has withdrawn.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.

Letter of the Week from ‘Red Alert’.

This week’s letter comes from reader, ‘Red Alert’ responding to this article and is somewhat representative of a mindset that inhabits the comment section of the Sun and National Post. The usual mantra of ‘hardworking taxpayers’ is mixed in with the prospect of us becoming like Venezuela.

‘Red’ opens his letter by mocking the article’s suggestion that Frances Nunziata and Frank DiGiorgio are right leaning. Then he gets to the meat of his argument, the waste of taxpayer money on unnecessary ‘socialist’ programs.

Right leaning? Who wrote this nonsense. They are all socialists talking platitudes, promising SOCIALIST  welfare programs and services on the backs of hardworking taxpayers in order to get elected by enslaving you. The City should not be in the business of managing Provincial or Municipal social programs or infrastructure. The city should not be in the housing business, retirement/long term care home business, children’s services business , social welfare business. They only know how to run businesses into the ground.  If you want your property taxes to remain low and lowered, demand the city follow it’s original mandate of providing basic services that everyone uses, like police, fire, sewer & water, roads, emergency services, etc. and spending within it’s means and operating any services at a zero sum gain and not a loss. The TTC operates at a colossal loss, it’s mind blowing; More than half of the gross TTC budget is made up of revenue the TTC takes in from fares. Discounting that revenue, the city will spend $576.8 million to SUBSIDIZE with your taxes, conventional service this year ( to pay for the loss) and a staggering $143.4 million to subsidize Wheel-Trans, that often sits idling, moving one person at a time to go shopping or other errands. What a life, hey? What a joke!   Spending billions of dollars the city doesn’t have on services offered at a loss demonstrates politicians gone mad to keep their jobs and stay in power.  It’s a page taken out of SOCIALIST Venezuela, currently going bankrupt and in the mist of hyperinflation which brings poverty and misery. Do you want this for Torontoians? Wake up before it’s too late for you.

Let’s take a few of these points and expand them. ‘Red’ thinks that the city should not spend money on:

  • Infrastructure
  • Transit including Wheel-Trans
  • Public housing
  • Retirement/long term care homes
  • Children’s services business
  • Social welfare

I’m assuming, ‘Red’, that you drive everywhere, never take transit or visit a park. It sounds like you have been lucky enough in life to never need any social services, either personally or for a family member. I’m assuming that you don’t plan on getting old or needing a long term care home. Presumably you would have been ok with letting the AIDS and SARS outbreaks run their course and don’t use the library.

Red, did you know that  if Toronto’s property taxes were increased by 24%, that would bring them up to the average level in the GTA? That must make you feel good.

Here’s a couple of pie charts outlining what the city does and where the money comes from. A lot of the stuff the city does is because no other level of government will. For example, community housing used to be a provincial responsibility until Premier Mike Harris arbitrarily downloaded it to municipalities in 1998 (while stiffing them for adequate funds).

Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.

Every country in the world subsidizes transit. There is no shortage of scholarly articles to show that subsidizing transit not only makes life better for people, it lowers pollution and keeps cars off the road. If it’s any comfort, Red, Toronto at about $1 has the lowest per fare subsidy level of any city in North America yet despite that, one of the most threadbare subway systems in the free world. Ka-ching; more money for hard working taxpayers like you.

Mayor Tory reacts with astonishment on seeing a real subway map while travelling on the London Underground. (From the Toronto Star.)

Try and imagine what would happen if subsidies ended and single fares rose to the cost recovery level of $5. People would go back to their cars causing gridlock. Less travelled bus routes would be cancelled and bus and subway schedules would be trimmed leading to further loss of ridership forcing even higher fares.

As for Wheel-Trans, you seem to resent that it’s used for shopping or personal errands. Well duh; if you were unlucky enough to be disabled what would you use Wheel-Trans for? How do you suggest disabled people buy food or get to appointments?

Incidentally, if you truly believe that Frances Nunziata and Frank DiGiorgio are ‘socialists’ in the way you understand the term, I’ll have to vigorously defend them. The Toronto taxpayer, labouring under the lightest tax load in the GTA has no greater friend than these two. Just look at Wards 11 and 12 and you can tell that a great deal of effort has gone into saving taxpayers money over their combined six decades in office. Poverty is everywhere, litter is everywhere, basements are flooding, buses are crowded, many storefronts are shabby and often unoccupied, public housing is run down and they’ve kept our streets free of business-killing, traffic-pinching bike lanes used by unlicensed hipster freeloaders.

I think you owe them an apology.

Lastly, ‘Red’, next time you want to use the term socialism, you should understand that it refers to a system where the people own and / or control the means of production and distribution. I think we’re still light years away from that. Maybe if we had socialism, there would be less need to tip the scales in the other direction.

United ward spells trouble for Nunziata and DiGiorgio

From CTV News.

Under the proposed new municipal setup, councillors will represent federal ridings and as a result, Wards 11 and 12 will become one. In York South-Weston, two incumbents, Frances Nunziata and Frank DiGiorgio will be battling for the same job and will likely split the vote since they are both right-leaning, developer friendly and often vote in unison with Mayor Tory. Left-leaning Chiara Padovani has been mounting a solid campaign, canvassing extensively in old Ward 11 and from today will no doubt begin to make an impression on voters in old Ward 12.

If Ward 11 largely votes for Nunziata and Ward 12 for DiGiorgio, depending on the strength of the votes and the turnout, Padovani could scoop the progressive Ward 11 and 12 votes and come through the middle – even with a relatively small percentage of York South-Weston’s overall vote.

No doubt Ms. Padovani will join the chorus of protests at Doug Ford’s move to shrink council but it should work in her favour. Look for strategists on both incumbent teams to set their sights on Ms Padovani once campaigning gets under way in earnest. It won’t be pretty.

Transportation Meeting Report

Over 100 people attended the meeting which was an add-on by Councillors Nunziata and DiGiorgio to the relatively small number of information meetings held throughout the City. In addition to the councillors, MPP Laura Albanese and MP Ahmed Hussen were there.

MP Hussen stated that the Liberals plan to quadruple infrastructure spending and will respect local initiatives and not micromanage. He has put forward a Private Member’s bill to ensure that hiring needs are met so that local communities benefit through jobs and contracts when infrastructure money is spent.

Speaker 1 was James Perttula: Program Manager, Transportation Planning at City of Toronto. Speaker 2 was Jamie Robinson from Metrolinx.

Rather than bore you, dear readers, with the contents of their monologues, the information they presented is largely available through the links below.

The rest of this article will attempt to focus on significant questions posed by residents – these are more relevant to the Weston and Mount Dennis communities. Where answers were given, these have been noted.

Questions / Concerns:

Employment opportunities – Metrolinx has requested a community liaison plan from their contractor Crosslinx Transit Solutions that will be finalized soon. MP Hussen requested some hard figures regarding employment levels.

Is SmartTrack Planning route through Weston to Rexdale. Metrolinx is looking at a number of additional stations so it’s possible that a Woodbine station could be built.

Back-up power station. MP Hussen expressed concern to Jamie Robinson about emission levels. The station is designed to run on natural gas not diesel and so will not be so dirty. Modern non-polluting battery technology has not been considered. Jamie says he is totally open to alternatives. With that in mind, I have sent Mr Robinson this link. Other residents asked about a green energy supply instead. Mr Robinson countered solar would be totally inadequate to supply enough energy.

Parking at the new Mount Dennis Station. No plans at the moment for a parking lot – residents expressed concern about outsiders parking in the area and causing obstructions. The plan is that people will access the Crosstown by bus.

Another resident likes the Crosstown but thinks the number of stops should be reduced. Did not like the Scarborough subway, should be LRT instead.

This is a demographically poor area – will there be a zone system for fares on the new line? How far will money go in the new system? Answer the Crosstown will be integrated with the rest of the TTC system.

Another resident wondered about the jobs that 960 will be lost in the TTC due to Presto automation. Councillor DiGiorgio surmised that ticket collector jobs may disappear but employees would probably be retained and assigned elsewhere.

Concern about the timeline and completion date and related construction. The answer is that work will continue until the planned opening in September 2021. Councillor Nunziata pointed out that if the original subway plan had been implemented in 1995 we wouldn’t be having a problem with traffic today.

TTC is too slow and expensive. 20 km is considered local – why can’t people take the bus to the library without being charged the same as someone who travels 20km?

The LRT is going to cross Eglinton – why won’t the LRT move north through the spectacular station at Weston and service people along a loop to Rexdale. Answer: Additional stations are foreseen on the existing lines so that the enhancements that GO Transit is making will provide additional service to residents. This will likely not be at subway frequencies.

Are you going to build out the fourth track as part of SmartTrack? A: Trying to determine what infrastructure is required.

Is the problem that you can’t build the fourth track north of the 401 because of limited space – I thought that there would be room for four tracks but only three have been built. Is it that simple or would an expansion be impossible because the 401 is in the way?

Concerns that there will be express trains and local trains that would need an extra line.

An extra CP track has been negotiated. Is this true? You talk about the need for consultation but in practice you don’t – the generator and now the transformer have been sprung on the community without notice. A: We are committed to consulting with the community. The transformer will be located next to the generating facility.  The generator idea came from Crosslinx Transit Solutions – we had originally planned to have two separate connections to the electrical grid – it’s not carved in stone. “If the community doesn’t want it it won’t be built.”

Future of Eglinton Flats – what will happen there – how will transit impact the flats? A: Not answered.

Concern about Bombardier’s inability to supply trains on time as with the TTC streetcars. A: We’re confident that all issues will have been sorted out by the time the trains are needed.

We need to know what emissions will be given off from the generator? A: Agree that it’s very important – the Ministry of the Environment will decide whether emissions are appropriate for the area.

What about parking? – we need parking lots. A: (from Councillor Nunziata) when the development starts, then the city will come forward with the planning department and set up parking.

Q: What about continuing along Eglinton and turning up Highway 27? A: The Airport Authority is thinking of creating a transit hub at the Airport.

Q: Would love to take the UP Express to the subway with an integrated fare – it’s still expensive. Would like to see connections to mid-town rather than to downtown. A: We’re working on fare integration between TTC and GO. We’re also looking at fare integration across the GTHA but we recognize that the differences in fares are a disincentive to using transit.

Nobody wants the above ground section of the Crosstown, why not build it all underground?

We need to have commitments for frequency of use, hours of operation etc. We need to have a broader governing commission for all transit. What about green stations that provide their own electricity through solar?

How will light rail work along Eglinton past Scarlett – will  there be room to put it there? A: We have sufficient space along the corridor already to put the LRT tracks plus cycle path / trail. It would be similar to St. Clair except there will be two traffic lanes in either direction.
What are implications of putting the LRT tracks down one side rather than in the middle. A: Current plan is to run it down the centre. Also looking at looking at ways to mitigate traffic impacts.

Who are the private partners? Will there be an intensification and if so, why aren’t builders not paying more of the costs to provide transit? After all, they get money in their pockets. Also building parking lots simply encourages to bring cars into the area and park throughout the neighbourhood. A: (councillor Nunziata) Developers pay charges when they put up buildings.

Adjournment.