Since 2010, I have had the honour to serve as your City Councillor in Ward 27, Toronto-Centre Rosedale. As many of you may know, the ward boundaries have been redrawn. Ward 27 as we currently know it will no longer exist in the next term of City Council. In considering where to run in the upcoming election, I spoke with supporters in many of the communities I have worked closely with for over seven years. Today I am proud to announce my candidacy in the new Ward 22 in Toronto’s upcoming October 2018 municipal election.
With the many changes to the ward boundaries, the new Ward 22 is closest to where I live and running here will allow me to continue working with sizable communities such as Downtown Yonge, Ryerson University, McGill-Granby Village and the Garden District which I already represent and that will soon become part of the new Ward 22.
For those who watch City Hall closely, you will know that the Ward 27 sizeable workload is tremendous and without equal in the city, since we have almost twice the population density of other wards. Looking back on our achievements in Ward 27, there is so much that we have accomplished together. We have made major parkland acquisitions and revitalizations efforts, beautified neighbourhood streetscapes, promoted active transportation, expanded downtown service levels, created community safety plans, advocated for new affordable housing and improved shelter services. We have much to be proud of.
In my first election, I pledged to reform the planning process and to fight hard to give the local communities greater influence over what was important to them. I am proud to say that, with the support of my constituents and supporters, I led City Council efforts to advocate for the dismantling of the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB). Five years after we began that campaign, the OMB has been stripped of its overreaching powers and is no longer in absolute control of municipal land-use planning. There were those who said we shouldn’t even bother trying to reform the OMB because it could never be done, but two premiers and five Ministers of Municipal Affairs and Housing later, we did the impossible!
As a vocal champion of Toronto’s rich cultural and built heritage, I am the only City Councillor who has served on the Toronto Preservation Board without disruption for the past two terms, representing my entire time at City Hall. With the support of residents, I worked hard and successfully initiated two Heritage Conservation District studies in one single year. This was virtually unheard of at City Hall but considering the rapid development pressures, not doing so would have left large swaths of ‘old Toronto’ unprotected. The last standing entire block of the original Yorkville on Yonge Street was saved because of these efforts.
When small businesses on Yonge Street were facing unprecedented 400% tax increases, I led the small business tax reassessments to preserve Yonge Street and other character business districts across Toronto. I initiated the long-awaited Yonge Street Environmental Assessment that will eventually build a vibrant 21st century street that will embrace greater pedestrianization and an exciting new retail strategy. I lobbied for city-wide initiatives that have resulted in transformational policy shifts, such as TOCore and TransformTO.
Last winter, in a time of great urgency, I successfully organized for immediate action to increase capacity in Toronto’s shelter system and charged forward to bridge service gaps in the Downtown East. I fought for the acquisition of 11 Wellesley parkland, the acceleration of Vision Zero implementation, evidence-based transit planning, ravine restoration, Toronto Community Housing capital repairs, the Indigenous District and Business Incubator, active transportation, and OpenStreetsTO.
These, and the many other accomplishments that we achieved, would have never happened without my hardworking staff and the successful partnerships and trust that we have with the residents and business operators in the ward and across the city. From working with these exceptional people, I have learned so much. I am grateful everyday for the honour to serve the public.
It is no secret that my heart belongs to the incredible LGBTQ2S community and the Church-Wellesley Village. They welcomed me into a beautiful family of rainbow colours as a shy teenager at age 16. They nurtured my political growth for equity and justice at the most inclusive community centre in Canada. They showed me that it was okay to dance and sing off-key in the streets wearing glitter and the silliest homemade outfits. They showed me that being different was a special gift and how to take pride in my authentic self. The tragic events in the Village have forever changed my chosen family and I. To them I say, forever I will be in your service regardless of where life may take me.
Looking ahead, I am excited to lead in the new Ward 22. I look forward to working with active and growing communities, including the dynamic Waterfront neighbourhood where I worked for over 16 years. I look forward to supporting the residents of Toronto Islands, Queens Quay, Old Toronto, South Core, Financial and Entertainment Districts in further enhancing their vibrancy.
I will be honoured to continue my leadership at City Hall. I will continue to be a trusted voice on City Council and an effective leader for diverse communities and sustainable neighbourhoods. I will continue to advocate for an affordable, beautiful, and creative Toronto. I will proudly continue to be your city champion on the issues that truly matter to all residents and business owners.
Please support my campaign to become the City Councillor for the new Ward 22. Sign up to get involved and together we can keep building a healthy and liveable Toronto.
As always, I welcome hearing from you. Let’s stay in touch!
Yours in service,