2014 City Council Election: Ward 11 – York South-Weston

The Incumbent:

Frances Nunziata

The Race

Council Speaker Frances Nunziata has a strong hold on the ward she represents, with an electoral history in the area going back to 1985. Nunziata and her opponent both have their eyes on property taxes, finding savings in the budget, and holding the line on labour negotiations with the City. There are interesting community development proposals from both candidates.

Candidates Who Did Not Participate: Dory Chalhoub

The Breakdown

  • Candidate Response
    Garcia, Jose Yes
    Nunziata, Frances Yes


  • Candidate Response
    Garcia, Jose Eliminate duplication in government services, cut size of City Council, look for savings in police budget, contract out non-essential services.
    Nunziata, Frances Upper levels of management and bureaucracy at City Hall. Too much duplication – implement shared services with agencies, boards, and commissions.


  • Candidate Response
    Garcia, Jose Yes
    Nunziata, Frances Yes


  • Candidate Response
    Garcia, Jose Yes
    Nunziata, Frances Yes, and should consider contracting out janitorial services, tree pruning, and legal services.


  • Candidate Response
    Garcia, Jose Yes to reducing
    Nunziata, Frances Will consider with alternate sources of revenue.


  • Candidate Response
    Garcia, Jose Lower taxes for business, continue improvements with transit system and roads, and attract new development.
    Nunziata, Frances Local Employment Plans to create apprenticeship opportunities. Attach jobs to transit construction including career counselling meetings with Toronto Employment and Social Services.


  • Candidate Response
    Garcia, Jose Leave planning to the experts and stick with decisions made. Do not change subway plan for Scarborough. Rely less on property taxes for transit revenue – consider municipal income tax and sales tax.
    Nunziata, Frances Dedicated source of revenue for subway expansion. Property taxes were the right tool for Scarborough subway. Need commitments from upper levels of government.


  • Candidate Response
    Garcia, Jose Stay with the plan and always keep the taxpayer in mind.
    Nunziata, Frances Must enter negotiations with the view that we can not afford new expenditures.


  • Candidate Response
    Garcia, Jose Will consider if there are clear and long-term benefits.
    Nunziata, Frances Yes, for example, naming rights to City assets.


  • Candidate Response
    Garcia, Jose Tax breaks for small businesses, beautifying the area, transit express bus, and new development.
    Nunziata, Frances Re-development of Humber River Hospital site. Basement flooding. Union-Pearson Express fares are too high – fares should be put in line with GO Transit.

 

The full responses

  • 1. Do you support a property tax cap ensuring future hikes are no greater than the rate of inflation?

    Absolutely, we are overtaxed as it is, I truly believe that if proper financial planning is put in place and followed we can keep the hikes to a minimum.

    2. Where, specifically, do you advocate finding savings in the current city budget?

    We need to find efficiencies within the government services, eliminate duplication and move resources where they are actually needed, also continuing work on eliminating the gravy train and

    reducing the size of Toronto City Council as well as look into the police budget for other savings and contracting out non essential services, I also believe in keeping a closer watch on projects to keep them within budget and time.

    3. Do you support reducing the size of Toronto City Council?

    Yes, the current number of councillors makes the process too slow, with fewer members the city would be able to come to consensus quicker, get more things done, save money and avoid so much of the drama We keep hearing  about.

    4. Will you support contracting out garbage collection east of Yonge Street?

    I do support contracting out garbage collection east of Yonge Street, as the previous negotiations proved it, a tough stance to public sector unions is required to keep these costs in check, I support contracting out any non essential services

    5. What are your thoughts on the Municipal Land Transfer Tax – will you support reducing it or eliminating it?

    I support to gradually reduce and even eliminate it as long as we can find savings in other areas to offset it, otherwise We run the risk of reducing or eliminating funding to other important areas.

    6. Toronto’s unemployment rate is much higher than the provincial rate. What are your ideas to create job growth in Toronto?

    Taxes are making it very difficult to all businesses specially small to medium size to continue operating in our city, We need to make it worthwhile for businesses to open shop and/or increase hiring by bringing taxes down, continuing improvements with our transit system and roads and attract new development.

    7. It seems City Council has been debating public transit forever with little results to show. How would you fund new transit projects to ease congestion for everyone? Do you feel we need to change the current transit planning process?

    I agree, it is taking forever and not much to show for, we should leave the planning to the experts and once decisions are made to go for it, I do agree with the subway plan for Scarborough, we should not change it.

    I would look for funding from other levels of government as well as looking at what the city can do in terms of generating revenues, we rely heavily on property taxes and not much else, we need to look at what other big cities are doing to generate revenue for transit projects, for example cities like New York and Chicago use a combination of municipal income tax and sales tax to fund it.

    8. Labour negotiations will be a big part of the next council term. What advice do you have for the city’s negotiating team to get the best deal for taxpayers?

    We know that it is going to be tough this time around and every negotiation is different, you need to stay with the plan and don’t budge to pressure, keep always the taxpayer in mind when agreeing on the terms of the contract.

    9. Do you see opportunities for public-private partnerships (P3s) involving the City of Toronto? Where, specifically?

    There are always opportunities for a partnership with the private sector, but as a councillor I wouldn’t support any unless there is a clear and long term benefit that makes sense to the city,

    10. What is the top issue of concern for residents in your ward? What will you do as Councillor to address the issue?

    We have a lot of small businesses in the area that makes it enjoyable with no need to go to the big stores for small purchases, helping them stay in business with tax breaks will go a long way,  beautifying the area to make it more appealing, improving transit by implementing an express 89 bus and bring new development to the area.

  • 1. Do you support a property tax cap ensuring future hikes are no greater than the rate of inflation?

    Yes.

    2. Where, specifically, do you advocate finding savings in the current city budget?

    Upper levels of management. I believe we should trim the size of the bureaucracy at City Hall. In addition, there is a lot of duplication; we should be implementing shared services with our agencies, boards and commissions.

    3. Do you support reducing the size of Toronto City Council?

    Yes and yes.

    4. Will you support contracting out garbage collection east of Yonge Street?

    Yes. I believe that consideration should also be given to contracting out services like janitorial services, tree pruning, and legal services, to name a few.

    5. What are your thoughts on the Municipal Land Transfer Tax – will you support reducing it or eliminating it?

    I have always been opposed to the MLT; however, in order to commit to reducing or eliminating it, we would first have to identify an alternate source of revenue.

    6. Toronto’s unemployment rate is much higher than the provincial rate. What are your ideas to create job growth in Toronto?

    I am an advocate for Local Employment Plan’s and have worked closely with Hammerheads to create apprenticeship opportunities whenever there is new construction in my ward. In partnership with Metrolinx and Toronto Employment and Social Services (TESS), I was able to get the Georgetown South Project Employment Initiative created which provides easy access to job opportunities along the Georgetown corridor as part of Metrolinx’s construction, as well as one-on-one career counselling meetings with representatives from TESS. This project has proven to be a great success and is being replicated by Metrolinx for other construction projects.

    7. It seems City Council has been debating public transit forever with little results to show. How would you fund new transit projects to ease congestion for everyone? Do you feel we need to change the current transit planning process?

    I believe that in order to really move forward with public transit expansion we need to find a dedicated source of revenue. As a strong supporter of subways, I believe allocating funds through the property taxes was the right thing to do and once the Scarborough subway is completed, we should continue collecting that revenue to put towards other transit expansion projects. It is important to have the upper levels of government at the table as well.

    8. Labour negotiations will be a big part of the next council term. What advice do you have for the city’s negotiating team to get the best deal for taxpayers?

    We have to go into negotiations with the view that we cannot afford additional expenditures. Period. I believe we did very well during the last term’s negotiations and were able to come to an agreement without labour disruption. There is no reason why the same cannot be done in the next term.

    9. Do you see opportunities for public-private partnerships (P3s) involving the City of Toronto? Where, specifically?

    Yes. One area would be selling naming rights for City assets.

    10. What is the top issue of concern for residents in your ward? What will you do as Councillor to address the issue?

    Depending on the area of Ward 11, there are different “top issues.” For example, the development of the Humber River Hospital site at 200 Church Street, after it closes, is of great concern to area residents. I have already initiated discussion with potential partners and the province regarding opportunities to maintain the site for institutional uses which is what the community has stated it wants.

    Further south in Ward 11, a top issue is basement flooding, with homes having been constructed on land within the flood plain. The environmental assessments for Ward 11 were completed this year, and I will ensure that money is put into the budget so that we can move forward with the recommended solutions now, not later.

    Finally, the fares to ride the UP Express is of concern to the entire ward, with the majority of the opinion that the anticipated $20-$30 fare is too high. I have advocated at Council for fares in line with GO Transit fares and will continue to do so.