2014 City Council Election: Ward 17 – Davenport

The Incumbent:

Cesar Palacio

The Race

In 2006, incumbent Councillor Cesar Palacio was elected with less than 300 hundred votes separating him from opponent Alejandra Bravo. This year, they participate in a re-match and the dynamics of the race haven’t changed. This ward faces a clear choice between a candidate committed to respecting taxpayers and business development, or a path towards higher taxes and unwise spending. Ward 17 has a high population of pensioners and immigrants. Who will best represent them?

Candidates Who Did Not Participate: George Stevens

The Breakdown


  • Candidate Response
    Bravo, Alejandra No
    Palacio, Cesar Yes
    Selvam, Saeed Yes


  • Candidate Response
    Bravo, Alejandra Cancel the Scarborough subway
    Palacio, Cesar Reduce middle management throughout city divisions. Streamline management levels in the TTC without compromising front line service. Contract out garbage collection east of Yonge St. Harmonize procurement practices between City agencies, boards, and commissions. Review 48% of City Operating Budget for efficiencies in salaries and benefits.
    Selvam, Saeed Reduce budget in higher expense areas first. Focus on smaller line-items not being spent effectively.


  • Candidate Response
    Bravo, Alejandra No
    Palacio, Cesar Yes
    Selvam, Saeed No


  • Candidate Response
    Bravo, Alejandra No
    Palacio, Cesar Yes. Also city legal services, parts of Buildings Divisions and Planning Division, and contracting out parking enforcement. Leasing municipal golf courses to private sector.
    Selvam, Saeed Yes


  • Candidate Response
    Bravo, Alejandra No
    Palacio, Cesar Yes to reducing by 10%
    Selvam, Saeed No


  • Candidate Response
    Bravo, Alejandra Reduce the commercial property tax rate relative to residential rates. Ensure policies on procurement of goods and services and construction of new infrastructure. Make sure unemployed people have access opportunities after re-training.
    Palacio, Cesar Reduce business tax for small business to 2.5%. Eliminate "Education Tax" within the property tax system for small businesses. Promote the City as a place to do business and invest.
    Selvam, Saeed Make Toronto appealing to investors to attract job opportunities. Focus on entrepreneurship and start-up grants by enhancing Enterprise Toronto and NGOs.


  • Candidate Response
    Bravo, Alejandra Reverse cuts to TTC and increase bus service. Cancel Scarborough subway for LRT. Provincial and federal governments need to return to the table with funding.
    Palacio, Cesar Open a reserve account to fund future transit projects. Need to create a fair and sustainable funding formula dedicated to transit infrastructure. Push for National Transit Strategy with federal government. Work in partnership with private sector.
    Selvam, Saeed Support the Anne Golden Report calling for the province to generate money for transit and getting a fair share from provincial and federal levels of government.


  • Candidate Response
    Bravo, Alejandra The City needs to negotiate with labour unions in good faith to secure contracts that offer good value for the public and fair wages and working conditions.
    Palacio, Cesar Get value for taxpayers' money. Make provisions with management staff to provide essential services in case of labour disruptions.
    Selvam, Saeed Get the best deal for the City with balance between jobs, services, and rights.


  • Candidate Response
    Bravo, Alejandra Partner with not-for-profit and community agencies to deliver services. Does not support privatization of city services to the for-profit sector.
    Palacio, Cesar Yes in building public transit infrastructure and for affordable housing.
    Selvam, Saeed P3s can be used to expand retail activity in transit stations. Will consider P3s through cost-benefit analysis.


  • Candidate Response
    Bravo, Alejandra Unemployment. Construction of Eglinton Crosstown. Lack of green space and recreational centres. Concerns over community safety.
    Palacio, Cesar Property taxes must be held to rate of inflation or below. De-congesting the bottleneck of traffic at the western end of the St. Clair Right-of-Way. A solution must be reached and funding has been put aside for it.
    Selvam, Saeed Transit; Affordable housing; Safety and security; Cleanliness; Business development and jobs – these issues are all connected. Necessary road repairs and solving the St. Clair Bottleneck.

The full responses

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

    We need to set property tax rates at an appropriate level to provide services that Torontonians rely on.  Tax rate increases need to recognize rates of inflation and population growth. We need to make sure tax rates are affordable, particularly for people on fixed incomes.

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

    The first and most glaring example of savings in the City budget is eliminating the unnecessary Scarborough subway, which will cost at least $1 billion more than the fully funded LRT plan, and saddle property tax payers with a 30 year tax hike.

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

    We need to review boundaries to adjust for population changes and reflect new federal riding boundaries.  A cut in council size would mean a reduction of accountability to residents and deprive residents of an engaged, local voice.

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

    Contracting garbage collection east of Yonge Street would risk any competitive advantage that we may be gaining from the current mix of private and public service delivery.  We should complete the current contract and review the cost-benefit for the public before making further moves to contract out.

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

    The Land Transfer Tax has generated billions of dollars in revenue  currently funding services that the public demands. Any cut to this tax would require a corresponding increase in property taxes, an unfair burden on residents in my community.

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

    Most jobs are created by local small businesses. Continuing to reduce the commercial property tax rate relative to residential rates is critical. Toronto’s high unemployment rate, especially among youth, threatens the city’s shared prosperity. The city has a number of levers and tools it doesn’t currently use to create pathways to employment for people marginalized from the labour market. The city should ensure policies on procurement of goods and services, construction of new infrastructure, and the regulatory environment for private development create opportunities for good jobs for residents of the city. The workforce development system is the responsibility of the provincial government, but Toronto has a role to play. It’s important that the system is reworked, as many unemployed people do not access opportunities after retraining, despite massive public investment in programs and services. My position on how community benefits can promote good jobs outlined here http://maytree.com/opinion/community-benefit-agreements-new-tool-reduce-poverty-inequality.html

    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?

    We need to reverse cuts to TTC and invest in increased bus service, & smart expansion of the subway and LRT network. I would support  returning to the fully funded and studied above-ground transit plan, rather than the unnecessary Scarborough subway, which will cost at least $1 billion more than the fully funded LRT plan, and saddle property tax payers with a 30 year tax hike. We need the provincial and federal governments to return to the table in terms of transit funding. The planning process needs to strike a good balance between local community concerns and following the best available expert advice.

    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 needs to negotiate with labour unions in good faith to secure contracts that offer good value for the public and fair wages and working conditions.

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

    Public services should be delivered in a way that is transparent and accountable to the public. The city currently contracts with a number of private non-profit organizations to deliver services in a nimble way that responds to changing community needs, in a diverse and ever evolving population. Not-for-profit organizations and community agencies are an important partner in the delivery of social services, child care, public health services, etc. This is done with public oversight and without the recovery of profit in the delivery model, and is therefore a success. I would not support the privatization or contracting out of city services to the for-profit private sector, as this would introduce the profit margin into the cost.

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

    Unemployment, precarious work and a lack of opportunities for youth are major issues. Construction to fix the bottleneck on St. Clair W  at Old Weston Road is needed.  Residents are living with the construction of Eglinton Crosstown. New development will require collaborative work with developers, residents, and local business. Ward 17 is deficient in green spaces and recreation opportunities. Concerns about community safety require the support of residents, the community and police.

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

    Yes, I support a property tax cap.  Increases should not be greater than the rate of inflation. According to the Fraser Institute the average Canadians spend a considerable amount of their income on all forms of taxation, compared to what they spend on food, shelter, and clothing combined.

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

    • By reducing the size of government –mainly within middle management throughout City Divisions.
    • Within the TPS, employment growth has gone up; while statistics show that the level of crime has gone down.
    • The TTC has experienced unprecedented employment growth -efficiencies could be found by streamlining management levels without compromising front line services.
    • Contracting out garbage collection east of Yonge Street.
    • Harmonizing and centralizing HR, IT, fleet services and procurement practices throughout City Divisions and its Agencies, Boards and Commissions.
    • Review 48% of the City’s current Operating Budget which is allocated to staff salaries and benefits whereby employees are currently receiving an annual increase equivalent to double the rate of inflation – this must be reviewed.

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

    I do support reducing the size of government by half, which is why I voted in support of the recommendation during this term of Council – I believe this would make City Council more functional and productive. Voting in a block at City Council has become too disruptive and polarized.

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

    • Absolutely. I support contracting out garbage collection east of Yonge Street.
    • Contracting out part of the City Legal Services (Council continuously directs the City Solicitor to hire outside legal services to defend city interests)
    • Contracting out part of the Buildings Division, such as: zoning examiners, technical services and administrative staff.
    • Contracting out part of the Planning Division (Council continuously directs the Chief Planner to hire outside planning consultants to represent the city)
    • Contracting out Parking Enforcement, or transferring the responsibilities to the Toronto Parking Authority.
    • Leasing municipal golf courses to the private sector.

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

    I did not support the Land Transfer Tax when it was introduced. I would be in support of reducing it by 10% if re-elected.

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

    • An accelerate reduction of business taxes for small business to 2.5%. Business taxes for small businesses in Toronto are too high in relation to their counterparts in the GTA and other Regions.
    • Request the Province to get rid of “Education Taxes” within the property tax system for small businesses.
    • Promote the City as a place to do business and invest.

    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?

    We need to stay the course. City Council decided on the current transit plan – the subway extension to the Scarborough Centre, the DRL, and the Eglinton cross-town.

    • To fund future transit projects – all levels of government must be part of the solution. Council must open a “reserve” account dedicated to future transit projects.
    • We must continue to bring our provincial and federal partners to the table to ensure funding is being allocated to future transit infrastructure – we need to create a fair sustainable funding formula that is dedicated to transit infrastructure
    • The City of Toronto is the financial engine of the province and the country, City Council must insist on a “national transit strategy”
    • We need to work in partnership with the private and public sectors (P3s) – this has already been accomplished in other jurisdictions.

    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?

    • Use the same strategy that was used this term of City Council. Get value for taxpayer’s money!
    • Make provisions within management staff to provide essential services in case of a labour standoff, or labour disruption.

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

    • Building public transit infrastructure
    • Affordable or social housing

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

    • Property Tax Increases – I will continue to exercise fiscal prudence, transparency and accountability holding property tax increases to the rate of inflation or below.
    • Decongesting the area of St. Clair Ave West/Old Weston Rd/ Keele St – the St. Clair Right Of Way has caused a traffic congestion nightmare and is of top concern to Ward 17 residents – an Environmental Assessment is already underway where a   viable solution to alleviate this bottleneck of traffic congestion will be reached – as the local Councillor I successfully secured a reserve account where funding has been allocated to fund this project.

    As an experienced City Councillor, I will continue to stand up for my community, I will stand up to the bullies at city hall, I will fight for what is right.

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

    Although Toronto has one of the most reasonable property tax rates in the GTA it should be in line with inflation ensuring fair and equal distribution for all residents. I would support a cap in that regard.

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

    We need to look at innovative ways of generating and saving revenue. I believe that slow and steady wins the race, meaning that instead of reducing our budget in higher expense areas first, focus on the smaller line-items that are not being spent effectively and trim from there.

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

    Council’s operation has a lot to do with councillors’ abilities to work together. We need to do better at this. While I don’t support reducing the size of council, I would support having a speaker in council who is elected by council rather than appointed.

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

    Many residents east of Yonge have asked for their garbage to be contracted out to ensure equality of service across the board. I would not deny them, unless there is some sort of unexpected compelling financial case.

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

    The MLTT is a critical revenue generator for the City of Toronto. While it is also expensive to live in Toronto and purchase a property for many in our city, the issue is more with market values and rents than the actual tax rates themselves. At a time like this when transit and affordable housing issuffering, we need to focus on providing an enhanced level of service while having revenue to invest in future legacy projects like transit expansion. The MLTT should be kept at the moment

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

    First we need to take care of our biggest issues like transit, community spaces, transportation and so on. We need to make Toronto appealing to investors and employers to invest in so that we can attract job opportunities to the city. My plan is to also focus on entrepreneurship and start-up grants by enhancing Enterprise Toronto and working with other NGOS who are already trailblazing in this area. We must support a culture of risk, that’s what business and thus jobs are all about. We need to also focus on the youth unemployment rate which is sky-rocketing. By working with all 3 levels of government to create and attract jobs, the possibilities are endless.

    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?

    People are willing to pay for service as long as they see value, this hasn’t been the case and many residents are. I would support items in the Anne Golden report which are largely about how the province would generate money for transit and also ensure that we get our fair share from the province and the federal government.

    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 need balance. Negotiations are only as good as their negotiators, thus with the city’s best we need to ensure that we don’t stop until the best deal for labour and the city is met. A balance between jobs, service and rights is key.

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

    P3s work best in certain scenarios and others they unfortunately do not. Using the example of transit; P3s would be poorly implemented if talking about selling naming rights at stations etc, but may not be a bad idea if talking about expanding retail activity in certain stations (current example at Bathurst station) where the city is able to find another revenue source without much risk or loss of control. I’m open to new possibilities as long as we do a thorough cost-benefit analysis, hear what residents have to say and then consider the facts. We need action in a time of broken promises, all good options should be considered

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

    Transit, affordable housing, safety/security, cleanliness, business development and jobs. It’s difficult to put one over the other because all of them are quite connected in that if they’re not resolved or acted on, our Davenport as we know it will slip through our fingers. What I will do is work with the community to: address the bunching and signaling issues of the St Clair streetcar , invest in more busses on Dufferin along with necessary road repairs, restimulate Davenport businesses with pop-up shops and parkign where necessary, enforce the Toronto cycling/pedestrain safety strategy by increasing cyclist infrastructure, solving the St.Clair Bottleneck once and for all, work with local police to combat drugs and speeding and be a responsive-service oriented Councillor who will help all no matter what the issue with a strong team of residents and volunteers.