More Seasonal Thoughts From City Hall

(It continues. It? you ask. Yes. It. Here. Today’s holiday musings come from Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam, Ward 27 Toronto Centre-Rosedale!)

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1) The Gift of Councilling: What is the one moment in 2012 that struck you as the best example of why it was you became a councillor?

The successful creation of Celebrate Yonge was our four-week pedestrian-friendly festival on Canada’s most famous street. It was an urban intervention, similar to others created in New York City and Montreal, except ours had no city funding or mayoral support. We organized the project in partnership with the Downtown Yonge Business Improvement Area, community volunteers and my office. What we didn’t have in city-funded support, we made up by gathering neighbourhood, labour and corporate sponsorship. It’s quite the accomplishment when one considers that we created the largest, new street festival under the most conservative, pro-car mayor in Toronto’s history. It truly represented the lesson of how we as a city “can” achieve anything we want as long as we are willing to work together.

2) Going Forward: In 2013, what is the one aspect you would like to see happen that would help develop better civic discourse?

In 2013, I would like City Council to lead Toronto in an collaborative, research-driven and transparent discussion on what we should do with the failing Gardiner Expressway. It’s time for an honest discussion about transportation modal shifts and how are we going to plan, design, pay for and build it. We need to engage Torontonians to answer the following questions: What would it take for us to build a sustainable and prosperous city in an increasingly dense urban environment? What revenue tools do we use to pay for it? What should the governance model look like and how do we get there? If we smartly plan for the future, we became globally competitive by creating the highest quality of living standard in the world. How City Council deals with and responds to the Gardiner dilemma is the most important question in this council term.

merrychristmas2012

last of the yearly submitted by Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam

Further Season’s Greetings

(Reflections on moments past and hopes for better moments ahead continue. Up today, Councillor Adam Vaughan, Ward 20 Trinity-Spadina!)

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1) The Gift of Councilling: What is the one moment in 2012 that struck you as the best example of why it was you became a councillor?

Moving the rezoning on Alex Park Revitalization through council would have been the moment, but the process with the residents has had so many “moments” it’s hard to pick the vote as a defining moment as most of the community wasn’t there to share in it.

As background: The movement to rebuild this housing community south of Kensington Market has been under way now for almost six years. Ground will break in the new year. In the last year a developer, an architect and tenant agreements have been put in place, along with the rezoning.

To select a single moment in this process is tough, but in December an event at one particular meeting stands out. Throughout the years of monthly meetings one particular father in the community has been insisting on making sure the TCHC retains basement storage areas in the new town homes for co-op residents. The gentleman is a talented woodworker and uses his basement as a workroom. The man helps other residents by building shelves and doing small repairs. He also helps out the community gardeners by building their planter boxes. The question of whether the new units will have basements has been touch and go, as TCHC expressed concerns about hoarding. The developer on site was confident basements could be included, the residents pushed hard and staff kept negotiating.

At the last meeting of the year it was announced that basements would be part of the new design. The man beamed, the room celebrated, even the TCHC staff person was all smiles. Moving the big stuff forward is important, but we all need reminding sometimes that getting the details right is quite often what defines the achievement. In this case one resident fighting with his neighbours made his life better, his community stronger and in doing all that made my year.

2) Going Forward: In 2013, what is the one aspect you would like to see happen that would help develop better civic discourse?

Continued success on getting transportation challenges in the city solved. Whether by foot or on two wheels or more, whether by public transit, wheel chair or car, this city needs to figure out how to accommodate the choices people make about how to move in this city. Despite the rhetoric, despite Ottawa and Queen’s Park doing just the bare minimum and despite the relentless focus on traffic, as if road capacity is the only issue that needs addressing, I believe that real progress is possible if we can work as a council and begin work as a region on this issue. Part of the solution lies in finance, but just as much involves convenience trumping efficiency. It requires focussing on creating and sustaining streets as destinations as much as protecting them as thoroughfares. It also of course demands that council celebrate great design, and stop tolerating mediocre one size fits all solutions to building better, more complete streets for all.

merrychristmas2012

seasonally submitted by Councillor Adam Vaughan

Councillor Christmas Continues

(Christmas day may be past but our City Hall holiday spirit continues. Today, Councillor Sarah Doucette, Ward 13, Parkdale-High Park!)

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1) The Gift of Councilling: What is the one moment in 2012 that struck you as the best example of why it was you became a councillor?

High Park – rebuilding the Jamie Bell Playground within 4 months after the fire and keeping the High Park Zoo open.

2) Going Forward: In 2013, what is the one aspect you would like to see happen that would help develop better civic discourse?

Respect for the deputation process – This year I was only able to give residents 48 hours notice of a public meeting regarding the closure of the Runnymede Fire Station. This gave them less than 12 hours notice before the deputation registration deadline.

merrychristmas2012

seasonally submitted by Councillor Sarah Doucette