2014 City Council Election: Ward 13 – Parkdale-High Park

The Incumbent:

Sarah Doucette

The Race

Councillor Sarah Doucette faces several more challengers than she did in the 2010 race. Which such competition it is unfortunate that a response to our questions was not submitted. The candidates on the ballot here are split in opinion on taxation and transit funding. A big topic in Ward 13 is a lack of responsible development and criticism of the Ontario Municipal Board. Expect the OMB to be a hot-button issue in the next Council term.

Candidates Who Did Not Participate: Councillor Sarah Doucette, Thomas Dempsey, Taras Kulish, Greg Lada, Rishi Sharma, Bohdan Spas

The Breakdown

  • Candidate Response
    Bielaski, Matthew Yes
    Melnyk, Eugene Yes
    Pavlov, Nick Yes
    Perez, Alex Yes
    Tar, István No
    Tummillo, Evan Yes


  • Candidate Response
    Bielaski, Matthew Cancel Scarborough subway for LRT. Privatize services like garbage collection.
    Melnyk, Eugene Streamline waste for efficiencies
    Pavlov, Nick Through a rationalization of all services and an open and competitive bidding process.
    Perez, Alex Finding more efficient services.
    Tar, István Sure there is space to save
    Tummillo, Evan It is difficulty to say because councillors do not have micro-oversight to make those judgments.


  • Candidate Response
    Bielaski, Matthew No
    Melnyk, Eugene No
    Pavlov, Nick Yes
    Perez, Alex Will Consider
    Tar, István No
    Tummillo, Evan No


  • Candidate Response
    Bielaski, Matthew Yes
    Melnyk, Eugene Yes. Also partial contracting out for community housing, police services, and construction management.
    Pavlov, Nick Yes
    Perez, Alex Did not answer specifically
    Tar, István No
    Tummillo, Evan Yes


  • Candidate Response
    Bielaski, Matthew Yes to modifying
    Melnyk, Eugene Yes to reducing by 50%
    Pavlov, Nick Yes to elimination
    Perez, Alex Will consider modifying
    Tar, István No
    Tummillo, Evan No


  • Candidate Response
    Melnyk, Eugene Lower business taxes.
    Pavlov, Nick Biggest roadblock facing entrepreneurs is red tape. Change the environment so entrepreneurship can flourish.
    Perez, Alex The City's Employment and Social Services should be a hub for innovation and prioritize programs for youth employment and recent immigrants. Partner with the private sector to do this.
    Tar, István Toronto should be its own province.
    Tummillo, Evan Make the city more accessible. Private partnerships for worthy ventures.


  • Candidate Response
    Bielaski, Matthew Congestion charge for people travelling to downtown, and collected as a dedicated fee.
    Melnyk, Eugene Partnerships with the private sector for funding.
    Pavlov, Nick With vision and drive we can find the tools to build a lot more transit without federal or provincial government funding or approval.
    Perez, Alex One transportation body should oversee all public transportation in the City. Build subways but switch the Scarborough subway back to LRT. Regional transit integration. Time of day differential fares for public transit.
    Tar, István The President of the TTC should be elected by workers and residents.
    Tummillo, Evan Attach referendum questions to city ballots to gauge public interest. We should pursue new revenue tools but also push for more funding from other levels of government.


  • Candidate Response
    Bielaski, Matthew Services can be contracted. The lowest bid shouldn't necessarily win contracts.
    Melnyk, Eugene Pay structure and compensation should be similar to private sector.
    Pavlov, Nick Union labour must be competitive, proficient at what they do, and give value to the residents who they work for.
    Perez, Alex City must take a strong position and be firm when bargaining.
    Tar, István Instead of labour unions there should be a Canadian standard for wages.
    Tummillo, Evan Be fair and responsible. Good paying jobs channel back into the economy.


  • Candidate Response
    Bielaski, Matthew Yes, for example, infrastructure projects, recreational services, and the development of the waterfront.
    Melnyk, Eugene Yes, in public transit and community housing.
    Pavlov, Nick Yes, particularly, in transit infrastructure.
    Perez, Alex Did not respond
    Tar, István Did not respond specifically
    Tummillo, Evan Will consider, particularly for cultural services.


  • Candidate Response
    Bielaski, Matthew Development that fits into the existing neighbourhood and upgrading infrastructure to accommodate this development.
    Melnyk, Eugene Community housing standards, too many condo developments.
    Pavlov, Nick Over-development that affects the character of the neighbourhoods. The OMB needs to have its powers in Toronto restricted.
    Perez, Alex Rapid development expansion must turn to responsible development. Promote inclusionary zoning. Work to reform or abolish the OMB.
    Tar, István Over-taxation and garbage
    Tummillo, Evan Every issue is important to be solved. Referenced OMB and responsible development.

 

The full responses

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

    I would like to peg tax increases to inflation. As much as it is unpopular we have been under funding our city relative to other municipalities for many years. We are fast reaching a breaking point where if we reduce or eliminate taxes, our services will suffer.

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

    Eliminating the Scarborough subway and reverting it back to a fully funded LRT will save a lot of money and eliminate a tax increase that was not needed other than for political grandstanding. I would also support moving services, like garbage collection, to private contracts as long as the level of service was as good or better then currently delivered publicly.

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

    No, for the reason that Toronto’s Wards are already large and very diverse. Example my Ward (Ward 13) has over 35,000 people, which is larger than many small towns, and has very different issues than some other Wards. I feel that reducing the size of Council will not affect how it functions. Having a Council that is willing to co-operate on issues, discuss matter and not be adversarial will improve how it operates.

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

    Yes I would support contracting out garbage collection as long as the service is not reduced. I do not mind paying taxes for services, but I want value for every tax dollar I give. I feel many others feel the same as I do.

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

    It a huge revenue generator for the City, having said that I dislike it greatly. I would reduce or eliminate it for real-estate transactions under 2.5 million dollars. I would increase it for the transactions above 2.5 million dollars.

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

    This is the hardest question to answer as it touches on many social and economic factors.  I would encourage small business development, start up’s and entrepreneurs in the city. I see this as jobs that have both growth potential and that will make our city stronger as a whole.

    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?

    By being very unpopular. I would implement a Congestion Charge for people travelling into downtown that do not live there, similar to what the city of London, England has. This would be a dedicated fee that would only be used to fund public transit in Toronto. This would do two things. The first would be to finally give transit dedicated funding. The second would be to encourage more people to take public transit and not to drive.

    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?

    By remembering that many services can be contracted out if needed. I would also tell them that it is not necessarily lowest bid should win contacts. You must look at what real value you are getting for each dollar you are spending.

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

    Yes I do. P3s generally work best for hard infrastructure projects like hospitals or sports facilities. I see possibilities for recreation complexes and sports fields as well as for the development of the waterfront. I don’t think they will solve all of the City’s problems but I feel they can play a part.

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

    I see development being the top issue in my Ward. More and more people want to live here, which is great, but we cannot turn Bloor West Village into a canyon of condos. I would work with the planning department, the developers and the resident groups to make sure that new developments fit into the neighbourhood and do not destroy the community. I would also ensure that as part of the development the infrastructure required to support all the new residents that will be coming to live in the community is also upgraded alongside building the developments.

  • 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?

    Through streamlining wastage in all public sectors and strive to be more efficient.

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

    No. The city of Toronto is large and representation by councillors through more wards would be more effective.

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

    Yes. I support contracting out garbage. I believe community housing, certain police services, certain construction management and other areas of public sectors may be partially contracted out.

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

    I support reducing the land transfer tax by 50 percent.

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

    Lower certain business tax to encourage more hiring. Create a stronger economy through fiscal responsibility.

    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 a partnership with private sector businesses would help fund a good deal of new transit projects.
    No we do not.

    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?

    I believe labour negotiations should focus on a pay structure and compensation similar to private sector pay structures.

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

    Yes, in public transit and community housing.

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

    There are many issues such as improving community housing standards, over development of condo projects, undermining the integrity of a neighbourhood.

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

    I support a fixed property tax cap that may not be increased for any reason. The City Government needs to work within its means and over the past 10 years, the radical house price increases and subsequent reassessment by MPAC is a stealth tax increase. As long as we continue in the Zero Interest Rate world that is being fostered by the Bank of Canada, there will be plenty of cost increases for the citizens of Toronto to pay without property taxes being one of them.

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

    I advocate finding savings in all aspects of the budget, rationalization of all services and an open competitive bidding process is needed for every single service the City Toronto provides.

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

    Yes I support reducing the size of city council by conforming the wards to the same size as the current Provincial and Federal Riding boundaries

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

    Yes, I support Contracting out garbage collection east of Yonge street. As for other services, as stated above, all services should be subject to competitive bid process.

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

    The Municipal Land Transfer Tax should be repealed.

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

    The red tape put forward by the City of Toronto is the single biggest roadblock facing entrepreneurs. Outdated and needlessly restrictive laws stop businesses before they ever get a chance to start. The flawed street food program, “A La Cart” is a classic example of this attitude coming from City Hall. The idea that everything need to be pre-approved by city bureaucrats is the antithesis of the kind of environment one needs for entrepreneurship to flourish.

    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?

    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?

    The City of Toronto for too long has been seen as a political football for other levels of Government to Kick around. The City itself is the economic engine of Ontario and to a lesser extent Canada, it is high time that the City government took it upon itself to explore options for funding transit beyond begging and pleading with other levels of government to pay for it. In Spain the 50 KM subway loop MetroSurwas built in 3 years – from there is no reason that can’t happen in Toronto with the right kind of vision and drive – and without the federal and provincial governments funding or approval.

    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?

    Positive labour relations are part of any great city, however, we are not going to held hostage by union agendas that don’t serve the people of the city. Their members must be competitive, proficient at what they do, and deliver value to the residents, who they work for.

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

    Transit would be the biggest one, and there is no reason why we could not go outside of Canada for the expertise and partnerships – for example the Spanish firm that built the MetroSur, FCC Construcción could be brought in to bid on the Transit project and revenue sharing programs could be used as an incentive to entice builders.

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

    The top issue is development. The character of this ward is being threatened by oversize condo towers that are being pushed on the neighbourhood. My focus will be on preserving the neighborhood. I vow to only work with developers who are willing to respect the size and scale of the community and work within those guidelines. High Park was once a successful example of rental and residential integration, however this has quickly eroded over the last four years. My career in real estate gives him the experience and knowledge needed to deal with a growing ward, and the planning pressures that come with that. The OMB also needs to have it’s powers within Toronto severely restricted.

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

    I will support property taxes to be in par with the rate of inflation to support current levels of services. If more efficient, cost effective measures can be implemented, we can improve and expand services without rising taxes. However, due to the lack of leadership in City Council for several years, combined with population growth, now we have immediate needs for transit expansion, infrastructure maintenance and expansion of services. I would support moderate increases of property taxes, or creation of new revenue tools, ONLY and after City Council develops and approves City Wide Strategies for transit expansion, infrastructure maintenance and services.

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

    According to the City’s manager there is little room for efficiencies. All options should be looked at while preserving or increasing the services the City offers. I will explore cost reduction by finding more efficient services.

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

    Not a priority, but it is a possibility. A disfunctional Council is a waste of money, resources, and opportunities. Currently, City Council wastes hours discussing issues that are not City-Wide problems (like supporting liquor license applications for a particular business), this should be discussed either in committees or local bodies, once that works has been unloaded from City Council I will support to study the reduction of number of council seats (it will be a long process, defining ward boundaries etc.)

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

    I believe the public sector services should move to a more competitive level, with the right oversight and policies in place it may be as competitive as any company. I will work to improve garbage collection service in Ward 13, while keeping it public and reducing it’s operation cost.

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

    No. That revenue tool has already been incorporated in the budget. I would consider changing and elevating the ceiling of the calculations. Property taxes should be kept at the rate of inflation. Council could explore other revenue tools. I would likely support a property tax increase or new taxes ONLY once a sustainable plan has been approved to: improve
    transit, infrastructure and services. I believe most people in the city are willing to accept moderate tax increases or new ones if there is a clear and viable plan in place.

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

    The City’s Employment and Social Services should be a hub for innovation. A large proportion of youth are unemployed or underemployed, many of them possessing valuable skill sets. The City should prioritize programs for youth employment. The City can also play an active roll in helping recent immigrants to enter the workforce where they can use their skills and receive fair payment. The City should implement employment services in partnership with the private sector and create the path for new long term careers for young people.

    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 would support creating one transportation body to oversee all the City transportation needs, including transit. It should also develop a City Wide Transit Plan and start implementation early 2016. I support building proposed subway lines, like the DRL. I will support going back to the funded Scarborough LRT (with millions in savings). I support promoting ridership with time of day differential fares. Regional transit integration. Continuous, safe bicycle routes. Coordination of agencies involved in transportation. Roads roundabouts. Promote staggered starting hours for downtown jobs. Target a minimum walk score of 75 in all ward 13 in 4 years.

    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?

    The City of Toronto needs to have a strong position when negotiating new collective contracts, and be firm when bargaining. City Council can play a leadership role in backing the city’s negotiating team and get the best possible deal balancing labour demands and the city’s budget, while ensuring the residents of the city get good quality services.

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

    Did not submit response.

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

    DEVELOPMENT: Strong economic activity and sustained population growth in the last 10 years have created rapid development expansion. I support responsible development. Promote inclusionary zoning. Develop clear policies for Section 37 funds. Strong, effective
    City’s representation at OMB hearings. Work to reform or abolish the OMB. Conserve the character of Ward 13. Work with constituents and city staff to envision the future of the Ward and the City

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

    I support hikes for those, who easily able to pay it!

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

    I am sure there is a space to find some to save!

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

    No, that will be a chance to reduce democracy, Instead of that I have better representation system

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

    No, both way you have to pay, anyway!

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

    If the Land transferred systematically, for money, not for job creation the Transfer Tax rightful.

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

    Many-many idea, 1)Toronto should be  legally a province…2) in the mean time Ontario should build  a new capital city  somewhere in Sudbury, The jobless, homeless peoples can move there, to give  them affordable apartments and jobs. The size of the city must grow up to half million or more..  3) Toronto must copy Singapore and Hong-Kong, not the Detroit’s…

    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?

    1) My point above addressed the same thing already, Toronto will get a fresh air.

    2) The TTC not for the public to decide, The President must be elected, by 50% of the workers, 50%  of passengers, Car owners should be locked out from the vote. The President must promise before  election, what will he achieve, and he must swear to that. If he turn down his promise, must not  receive the half of his salary.

    3) Canadian average wage should be the new Canadian standard. Wrong, lazy drivers must lose the yearly premium, (thirteenth monthly of wage).etc.

    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?

    Instead of labour unions, must be a Canadian standard Everyone who working 8hr/mo. Should Bring home the Canadian average income. People who working 4 hrs/day, must bring home after  deductions around $1800~2,000 Can $. Jobless, pensioner, ODSP etc. Must get 1000~1200$, with urge that his/her hobby is to develop to be a part-time-full time job.

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

    Yes, Mostly when someone give up the business, lost the business, or a property owner do not take care with the tenants interests, the government should take ower the business, but he can be around as a “skilled, experienced” advisor, employee of the company.

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

    No tax, no more tax, too much garbage around!

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

    I would support capping property tax at the rate of inflation, though it would hinge on our ability to come up with new revenue streams for the city. As it stands, property taxes are the major revenue source for the city, which means that when as a city we decide to invest in new projects and services, or expand existing ones, we are left without many options on how to cover the costs. While I cannot say what kind of taxes, or revenue streams the city may choose to pursue, as that should be left to experts, I would support them in an effort to relieve us from our complete reliance on property taxes.

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

    It is difficult to say where the city should look to find savings, because I like most Torontonians and other Councillors do not have the micro-oversight to make such a judgement on a $9.6 billion budget. Not only that, but as the city grows, so too will the budget to accommodate the growing needs on the city.

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

    Toronto is the most diverse city in the world. As such many of the wards in Toronto are made up of a dichotomy of communities. Both low and high income, varying ethnicities and religions, as well as corporate and residential groups can be found within the borders of any single ward, making the job of a councillor an interesting balancing act. As it stands, Toronto City Council is a reasonable size. Reducing it would serve only to make representing to values and wishes of the varying communities that much more difficult for whomever the councillor may be.

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

    I would fully support contracting out the garbage collection services east of Yonge St. Since the contract was issued in my area, the waste collection has been efficient and employees have held themselves to a far more professional manner.

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

    I believe this ties in well with question 1, wherein our growing city is in desperate need of new revenue tools and has so far been unwilling to pursue different avenues. Until that time, we are left with the property and land transfer taxes to hold the budget together.

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

    As a city, our job isn’t so much creating jobs as it as creating the environment which can foster job creation. Making the city more accessible, pursuing private/public partnership to jump start worthwhile ventures and properly showcasing our prestige on the world stage is how we may foster the job growth we seek.

    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?

    Major transit projects are of interest to the entire city, yet are obviously decided upon by our elected officials. Unfortunately though, many politicians are elected with what they think is a mandate from the voters to pursue their initiatives whether they be transit or otherwise. The problem being that in municipal politics, many get elected because they choose the lesser of two evils, and don’t necessarily support all of their stances. Therefore, I would be in favour of potentially attaching referendum questions during election periods to accurately gauge the public’s wishes on City projects.

    With regards to funding transit, I have spoken in previous answers about our need to pursue other revenues streams, but it should also be the responsibility of other levels of government to pitch in as in most other developed countries. Considering Toronto is a hub where people from surrounding areas flock to for their jobs and business, it shouldn’t necessarily be fair that only Toronto tax payers be responsible for paying for services that many outside of the aforementioned group benefit from.

    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?

    Be fair and reasonable. While it is in our best interests to get the best deal for the city, it is also in our best interests that we all have good paying jobs so that we may channel it back into the economy.

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

    Private Public partnerships are a useful tool to bring worth while services to Toronto while ensuring that we don’t over pay for the service. One interesting avenue which has been used in many other cities centres around cultural services, such as museums and art galleries. The private/public partnership would see to it that large exhibits be on display free of charge, while special events and exhibits have an admission fee.

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

    To say there is only one would be foolish. While responsible development and the OMB’s role in the process is under considerable scrutiny and rightfully so, is it more important than affordable housing, or emergency preparedness in wake of last year’s devastating ice storm? As a councillor I will treat every issue, big or small as something needing to be solved. Surely ensuring density grows in a manageable fashion is of paramount concern, but is somebody’s view more important than another residents ability to sleep because of subway noise and vibrations. Every issue is important, and I shall endeavour to solve them all as they pop up.