2014 City Council Election: Ward 24 – Willowdale

The Incumbent:

David Shiner

The Race

We would have preferred to weigh Councillor David Shiner’s response against his opponents but unfortunately the incumbent did not respond to our questions. Two of his challengers agree on the need to cap property tax at the rate of inflation and the need to find savings in the City budget. Views vary on reducing the Land Transfer Tax and public-private partnerships. The incumbent won handily in 2010. Will it happen again?

Candidates Who Did Not Participate: Councillor David Shiner, Randy Ai, Dan Fox.

The Breakdown

  • Candidate Response
    Acerra, Daniela Yes
    Galea, Michael Yes

  • Candidate Response
    Acerra, Daniela Contracting, operating budget, and recreation
    Galea, Michael In the execution of major capital projects. For example, cost over-run at Union Station could have been avoided.


  • Candidate Response
    Acerra, Daniela No
    Galea, Michael No


  • Candidate Response
    Acerra, Daniela Will consider with evaluation of private tender proposals
    Galea, Michael No, but supports proposals to contract out Toronto Parking Authority services.


  • Candidate Response
    Acerra, Daniela Yes to reducing
    Galea, Michael No to both reducing and elimination


  • Candidate Response
    Acerra, Daniela Focus on changing work trends. Many jobs can be created from condo construction. More promotions and events to stimulate economy.
    Galea, Michael Set targets for creation of employment spaces. Develop more building ownership options for small business. Establish Business Improvement Area in ward. Streamline Site Plan Application process.


  • Candidate Response
    Acerra, Daniela Provincial and federal governments need to commit funding. Advertisement on TTC properties could generate revenues.
    Galea, Michael Dedicate portion of land transfer tax revenue to transit fund. Road tolls from 905 commuters. Refine Toronto Parking Authority to generate positive income.


  • Candidate Response
    Acerra, Daniela Need balance between quality and responsible expenditure within parameters of budget.
    Galea, Michael Introduce performance-based pay in negotiations.


  • Candidate Response
    Acerra, Daniela Did not provide specifics.
    Galea, Michael Yes for delivery of infrastructure projects that are too large for the City to handle.


  • Candidate Response
    Acerra, Daniela Integrating immigrants in society faster for a more productive city.
    Galea, Michael Inappropriate land development. Must mediate between all stakeholders.

 

The full responses

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

    Yes a do support a property tax cap that does reflect not greater than the rate of inflation and i support to find areas that would keep the property taxes even lower than the rate of inflation.

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

    Contracting , operating budget ,recreation are all  other area that can be improved in savings and efficiency

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

    Toronto deserve the best Representation : the number of Representations is directly related by the needs of the residents and the City Budget.I believe into proper Representation :not under Represented ,not overly. Pros and Cons should be considered ,presented and decided on the bargaining table and all under an efficient and responsible budget.

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

    best value for the dollar without sacrificing the quality of services .Consideration should be given to the success of garbage privatization on the West side of Young St. Evaluation of private tender proposals and public Proposals should be careful examineted and best valued for the taxpayer interests e quality assurance

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

    Double Land Transfer tax in Toronto have driven families to purchase affordable housing outside the City.Reduction would be a great idea or rebates for First Home Buyers .I do not believe in Complete Land Transfer Tax Elimination as it brings in great Revenues.We want attract working families back into the City and we want to keep the City Competitive.

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

    Creating jobs is a key element for a prosperous City. Work fairs ,directing workers towards needed area ,updating skills,focusing work changing trands ,are some of the areas to create jobs . A typical example is taking a look at the over 200 Condo construction in Toronto : that requires engineers ,construction workers ,contractors ,condo managers and condo management Companies ,cleaning contractors , Elevators Contractors ,snow removals and landscaping contractors ,fire Inspectors ,pool inspectors and so forth. Those new condos will require furniture : from sales ,to administration ,to cabinet making ,delivery,furniture making….:the list is endless.

    The other is studying demographic and baby boomers needs  .Also believe in attracting  Companies in Toronto .Stimulate the private sector and promote it . Create Promotions and events in Toronto that would stimulate the economy like the successful Black Friday or The TIFF. This is just to mention a few.

    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 Toronto Transit System has been the key element of the debates of all 3 Levels of Government ,in which all of them have committed to funding aids .Assuring that both the Provincial and the Federal Government live up to their Commitment is a fundamental . And before looking at any taxation i would look at Revenues like for example advertisement on TTC properties and maximize those revenues

    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?

    Quality jobs mean quality life for families in Toronto and money reinvested into the City .A balance between quality and responsible expenditure is always necessary …always within the parameters of the proper assigned budget.

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

    Yes private sector and public sector can work together hand to hand .The garbage collection can be an example so far .Workers like options ,the City likes options fit within the budget.

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

    One of the issues in the Ward is the integration in Society of immigrants and language barrier in the East Side of the Ward . By organizing volunteers and increasing Esl and Co-op programs we can integrate residents faster and be part of a productive Toronto.

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

    YES, after the current property tax increase associated with funding the Scarborough Subway is implemented and maintained in a fund dedicated to transit expansion. Toronto’s residential property tax rate is the lowest in the golden horseshoe yet we face some of the most costly challenges. Our competitive edge must be maintained but we must also face the up to our responsibilities.

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

    In the execution of major capital projects. The projected budget over-run at Union Station alone is equal to nearly 4% of the entire 2013 City budget. We never should have taken responsibility for a major construction project that included a heritage building of this scope. We need to realize when a project is beyond our abilities and seek outside help that can be held accountable for their budget.

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

    Absolutely not. Currently, each Toronto Councillor represents more constituents than any other major city in Ontario. We must ensure fair representation for all of our citizens.

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

    Contracting out half of the City’s garbage collection has had an interesting result. Complaints are down and savings are being realized across the entire City thanks to competition between the public and private sector. Given the length of the contract, allowing either control over the entire system puts us at their mercy and could compromise the benefits realized. I’m in favour of maintaining the current split.

    In terms of contracting out other services, I would like to see private sector proposals for services pertaining to the Toronto Parking Authority. As I understand it the current system is revenue neutral. If the system could be refined to offer positive revenues that could be put into transit without added cost to citizens, I am all for it.

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

    Even after you factor in the revenues from the land transfer tax our residential tax rate is still lower than any other city in the Golden Horseshoe. I would keep it in place for the following reasons:

    A/ I believe that it serves as a minor disincentive helping to keep Toronto’s real estate market from overheating in the same way many others have, preserving most people largest investment.

    B/  Funding infrastructure improvements pays significant dividends to citizens by creating opportunities. We need the capital to invest in these improvements.

    C/ It allows us to defer payment of the taxes needed to raise the capital mentioned in B/ reducing our annual tax burden without compromising the growth of our City.

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

    A/ Use our planning policies to set real targets for the creation of a diverse range of employment spaces throughout the City. Current construction within the City has been too focused on condominiums and retail spaces. They are necessary part of any community but alone they do not meet our employment needs.

    B/ Encourage the development of more ownership options in the buildings that house our small businesses so they can pay into an asset rather than rent. Building asset value will give small businesses the leverage to expand more efficiently when they are ready.

    C/ Establish the first Business Improvement Area in my Ward. We need to take a proactive approach maintaining and improving the quality of our commercial areas before they become an issue.

    D/ Streamline the Site Plan Application process for non-contentious applications. Given Toronto’s new cost recovery program there really should be no need for an applicant to wait up to 120 days before a property even gets looked at.

    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?

    Funding Transit

    A/ Allocating a portion of the land transfer tax and the funding tool established for the Scarborough Subway to a dedicated transit expansion fund.

    B/ I am open to a modest road toll on the commuters from the 905 (only if necessary) provided Toronto residents are exempt and measures are taken to address “toll dodgers” who may further congest City streets.

    C/ Refining the Toronto Parking Authority to generate positive income.

    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 really do like the outcome of partially contracting garbage collection mentioned in my answer to question 4. We need to keep standard wage increases at inflation to be fare but then empower City employees to take control of their future through performance based pay. I find that people produce the best results when they know their efforts will not go unnoticed.

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

    Yes. I see potential for P3s in the delivery of infrastructure projects that are out of the City’s scope of expertise like the construction of complex buildings PROVIDED the outcomes are dictated by the City, payment is not made until substantial completion, payment for maintenance is based on performance and the relationship is subject to regular review by the Auditor General. Too often have we failed to recognize our limitations resulting in ballooning budgets. We can’t offer value to citizens if we do not fully grasp the scope of work.

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

    Simply put, inappropriate land development. I will use my 17 years of experience mediating between developers and communities to negotiate solutions that offer a net benefit to ALL stakeholders. Too often do we neglect to explore our options and miss opportunities by standing in stark opposition to change.