2014 City Council Election: Ward 19 – Trinity-Spadina

The Incumbent:

Mike Layton

The Race

Councillor Mike Layton is up for re-election this year. As a rookie Councillor, Layton emerged as a progressive, and respectful, voice on City Council but rarely advocated to decrease the burden on taxpayers. He faces a few opponents who are open to basic measures to accomplish this such as capping property taxes and exploring public-private partnerships. Transit is a dominating issue in an ever-growing Ward 19.

Candidates Who Did Not Participate: Albina Burello

The Breakdown

  • Candidate Response
    Bowman, Scott Yes
    Layton, Mike Yes, conditional on operating budget pressures
    Sawision, George Yes


  • Candidate Response
    Bowman, Scott In the police budget and breaking down the silos between city departments.
    Layton, Mike Look for streamlining the delivery of services when it does not impact services themselves.
    Sawision, George Police, fire, and housing budgets. Departments with a top heavy management structure.


  • Candidate Response
    Bowman, Scott No
    Layton, Mike No
    Sawision, George Yes


  • Candidate Response
    Bowman, Scott Yes
    Layton, Mike No
    Sawision, George Yes


  • Candidate Response
    Bowman, Scott Will consider reducing
    Layton, Mike No
    Sawision, George Yes to elimination


  • Candidate Response
    Bowman, Scott City should partner with organizations to encourage entrepreneurship especially for youth. Use organizations and educational facilities to re-train adults for new careers.
    Layton, Mike Leverage city spending to include requirements for local hiring and local procurement. A home energy retrofit strategy could create thousands of jobs at no cost.
    Sawision, George Decrease business taxes and give businesses incentives.


  • Candidate Response
    Bowman, Scott Revenue tools to be considered include Tax Increment Financing and working with the provincial government for transit funds.
    Layton, Mike Use progressive taxation to build transit infrastructure.
    Sawision, George Add a tax on new developments to the funding formula. Planning should be long-term and innovative.


  • Candidate Response
    Bowman, Scott Keep in mind a slow-growth economy and already strained property tax base.
    Layton, Mike Pay City employees a fair, competitive, and equitable wage.
    Sawision, George Give unions parity with private sector


  • Candidate Response
    Bowman, Scott City should partner with non-city operated organizations to assist at-risk, young, and displaced workers. Also, for re-development and training opportunities.
    Layton, Mike No
    Sawision, George Yes, for policing, fire services, and municipal housing.


  • Candidate Response
    Bowman, Scott Transit – new streetcars on 504 King route and a rapid bus line between Liberty Village and Union Station.
    Layton, Mike Protect quality of life and preserve the unique character of local neighbourhoods. Protect and improve public services that people depend on.
    Sawision, George Transit and cycling infrastructure in Liberty Village. New condominiums fitting within local neighbourhoods.

 

The full responses

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

    Keeping property tax increases to no more than the rate of inflation is a benchmark that Council should work hard to realize, and is definitely my goal.

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

    While I support the Police Service, I think that the Police services budget – specifically around paid duty needs addressing. Council has moved some motions to look into this, and I think that this is a good thing to look at. Also, too often city departments seemingly work in silos- causing infrastructure work to be torn up and redone after completion- because another departments’ infrastructure work was due to start later-  thus we paid twice for the same work.

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

    Reducing the size of Council doesn’t necessarily lead to a reduction in costs of operating the city. The issue really is about electing good Councillors who will serve the public, work to resolve issues and oversee the delivery of services by city staff – ensuring citizens get fair treatment and service. With that said, I also don’t support increasing the size of Council.

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

    I think that the contracting out of garbage collection West of Yonge Street has been successful. I think that if the issue was brought to Council, and an agreement similar to the agreement made for west-end collection was made, I would support that.

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

    I am open to looking at a reduction of this tax – but I would want to see what the impact on services such as fire and rescue, employment and social services, and infrastructure projects would be due to the revenue loss, before making a final decision.  We have to ensure front-line services that the residents of Toronto depend on are maintained and improved wherever we can.

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

    I believe in supporting measures to assist young people launch their own entrepreneurial ventures right here in the city.  I would work to ensure that the city services partner with community and not-for-profit organizations, post-secondary institutions and other levels of government to get start-up capital as well as other entrepreneurial training and assistance to our young people.  I also would work to find ways to work with organizations, other levels of government as well as our educational facilities to help older citizens re-train for new careers.

    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 think that looking at Tax Increment Financing (TIF) to help us upgrade our transit and infrastructure is one tool in our toolbox. This TIF works by dedicating future tax revenues generated from new development to pay for current infrastructure projects. As well, we should work with our Provincial government partner to tap into infrastructure/transit funds to build up our transit systems.

     As for the planning process, I think that we should be focusing on reducing the burden on overcapacity lines first – and introducing newer transit vehicles there, then moving to other lines.

    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 that we should bargain in good faith in the collective bargaining process. We should keep in mind a slow growth economy, higher than the average unemployment rate, as well as an already strained property tax base, means that we should work very hard to contain costs.

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

    I believe that a great opportunity is in the building of a more robust entrepreneurial community here in the city.  The city has services and access to various funding mechanisms, and has initiatives to promote Toronto as a place to do business.  There are also a number of non-city operated organizations that are delivering similar services, or can enhance the city’s services to assist the at-risk, the young and the displaced worker.  I would encourage the city to tap into the resources these groups offer – to assist our citizens to learn, develop, re-train and find opportunity.

    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 transit – and ensuring that we can move around our city – to get to work on time, to bring people downtown to enjoy our waterfront, sporting events, tourist attractions and our world class entertainment and restaurants.  We need to move people more effectively. For example, I would fight to get the new streetcars onto the 504 King Street line at least 1 year sooner – as the line is beyond capacity now. It cannot wait a full 2 years or more for the replacement vehicles.  As well, I would push the TTC for a rapid bus line between Liberty Village and Union Station. I would bring the TTC, myself, and our MPP to the table to find ways to make it happen.

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

    I support the general goal of keeping property tax increases to the rate of inflation but I believe that the property tax rate should ultimately be set at a level that ensures the efficient delivery of public services. Provincial downloading of services will also put additional pressures on our operating budget that may need to be addressed by property taxes.

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

    I believe we always must be vigilant when managing the City’s budget and look for efficiency and the streamlining of the delivery of services when it does not impact services themselves. Over the past decade Council has found better and more efficient ways of administering and delivering services, we should always be pursuing these options.

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

    No. I believe a smaller Council would lead to poor service to our residents and make Councillors less available to their constituents. As one of 44 councillors, I typically work upwards of 60 hours a week and attend public meetings 5-6 evenings weekly. Unlike our federal and provincial counterparts, there is much more hands on work on the municipal level and residents deserve the best possible service.

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

    No. I voted against contracting out waste collection and I do not believe contacting out public services nets the gains its proponents claim. I do not believe Torontonians get a better deal by seeking arrangements to underpay their fellow Torontonians.

    Even the General Manager of Solid Waste Management Services supports managed competition.  If we give up our ability to collect solid waste, we will be put in a vulnerable position and costs will no doubt increase while service suffers.

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

    The Municipal Land Transfer Tax has become an important tool that funds public services. Any attempt to reduce or eliminate it must be accompanied by a sound fiscal plan rather than rhetoric.  We need to increase our revenue tools to improve public services for all. We cannot retract revenues tools without a reduction in service levels to everyone.

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

    I believe we can help create jobs as a City by leveraging our spending to include requirements for local hiring and local procurement.  I championed a home energy retrofit strategy that could create thousands of jobs at NO cost to the City.  I initiated a process to support the music industry sector so that it flourishes like our film sector. I fought to replace employment areas during rezoning applications.

    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 it is crucial that we fund public transit with public dollars. Utilizing progressive taxation has been the way we have build the infrastructure we enjoy today and it is the method we should use to build the public transit system we need. The only solution to addressing Toronto’s traffic woes are improvements to public transit.

    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?

    This question assumes an adversarial relationship between the City’s work force and their employers. I believe the best deal for the citizens of Toronto is to ensure we are paying City employees a fair, competitive, and equitable wage.

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

    I believe adherence to a belief that P3s are the superior ways to fund and carry out work is flawed.  The private sector depends on private profits, which means public money being given to private individuals and companies instead of the delivery of public services.  Taxes should be spent on services not private gain.

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

    As Councillor, I have fought to protect residents’ quality of life and to preserve the unique, diverse character of the city’s neighbourhoods. I lead the fight against a mega-casino in our neighbourhood and a Wal-Mart next to Kensington Market. I have been a strong voice for residents on Council by fighting to protect and improve public services that people depend on including protecting affordable housing and preventing homelessness, maintaining and enhancing transportation and parks infrastructure, protecting investments in arts and culture, supporting local businesses, and improving public safety.

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

    A tax cap is essential and should be pegged to the rate of inflation.

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

    There are savings that can be made in the biggest portion of the budget.  The police, fire, and housing budgets have not realized all the possible efficiencies and should be scrupulously investigated. A look at departments with a top heavy management structure is essential.

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

    A 22 member council would reflect the federal and provincial riding representation. Much of the councillors work load has already been reduced with the 311 phone assistance program. Meetings and debates in council need to be streamlined to be more productive.

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

    I protested against the last garbage strike which left the city with stinky memories!  Private contracting in Etobicoke and west of Yonge St. has proven that it is an effect and efficient way of managing our garbage. Yes, I would extend the service where it makes sense.

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

    This is an unfair tax and should be eliminated.

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

    Small business has always been a leader in providing employment; however, with the burden of high taxes many are barely surviving. Decrease the business tax and give businesses incentives.

    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?

    Process is meaningless if you don’t have a long term plan. Innovative ideas, such as my Greenlinx project, and effective use of local transit programs would enable long term affordable transit. Funding formulas do not need to change.  A tax on new construction developments would add to this fund.

    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 private sector has been trimming costs. Why not incorporate their strategies and give unions parity with the private sector.

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

    P3s can be very effective, but a well trained city team working on local projects can also be effective.  Police, fire, and municipal housing can find efficiencies with P3s.  We can’t ignore the opportunity.

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

    Transit and cycling infrastructure in Liberty Village are on the minds of residences I have spoken with.  I have extensive plans for both.  There isn’t enough room here to explain.

    In the north part of the ward, condo intensification requires location and design planning to ensure that future projects fit into the neighbourhood and not overpower the landscape.