2014 City Council Election: Ward 28 – Toronto Centre-Rosedale

The Incumbent:

Pam McConnell

The Race

After two decades of representation from the same Councillor, is it time for new ideas and a new approach in Ward 28? Of the candidates that participated in our survey, all of the incumbent’s opponents agree that we should look at reducing the Municipal Land Transfer Tax.  They also offer fresh ideas with regards to tackling the City’s unemployment.

Candidates Who Did Not Participate: Miguel Avila, Christopher Brosky, Gerald Derome, Jonathan Hughes, Michael Loomans, Adam Pham, Raj Rama, Sammy Shaltout, Mohammed Sheikh, Sean Yilmaz

The Breakdown

  • Candidate Response
    Blackmore, David Will consider
    McConnell, Pam No
    Melnyk, Andy Yes
    Patel, Daniel No


  • Candidate Response
    Blackmore, David Unnecessary administration and high salaries would be the first place to find savings.
    McConnell, Pam While there are always efficiencies that can be found and should always be sought out and taken advantage of, the city does not have excessive waste or a spending problem.
    Melnyk, Andy TTC. Further review of the structure of other agencies would result in finding additional savings.
    Patel, Daniel Toronto Police Services – paid duty.


  • Candidate Response
    Blackmore, David No
    McConnell, Pam No
    Melnyk, Andy Yes
    Patel, Daniel No


  • Candidate Response
    Blackmore, David Yes – with conditions.
    McConnell, Pam No
    Melnyk, Andy Will consider.
    Patel, Daniel Will consider.


  • Candidate Response
    Blackmore, David Will consider reform and reduction.
    McConnell, Pam No
    Melnyk, Andy Yes – reduce or eliminate.
    Patel, Daniel Yes – reduce.


  • Candidate Response
    Blackmore, David I would advocate for the creation of paid internships for 15- 24 year olds, the hardest hit by unemployment. The participating small businesses and start-ups would be able to increase human resources during their crucial start up phases.  The interns would have a greater chance to be hired on a permanent basis with the participating businesses as they grow.
    McConnell, Pam Continuing to fund civic improvements such as transit services, public spaces, and other amenities that make it an attractive place for businesses to operate, as well as encouraging and facilitating programs and apprenticeship opportunities to assist young people, are some of the actions that will create good, well-paying jobs in Toronto.
    Melnyk, Andy Infrastructure revitalization programs and accelerate plans for Don Lands with private sector. This will result in extra revenue coming from tourism as well as will create new jobs alleviating high unemployment in Toronto.
    Patel, Daniel Working tightly with the private and public sector to identify jobs that can be be done by new graduates, internship programs and mentorship programs are all key contributors to creating jobs.


  • Candidate Response
    Blackmore, David Tax Increment Financing and expand scope of transit planning to allow for new commercial and residential properties to raise future transit revenues. City council should focus on the policies for the planning process and the larger vision, instead of trying to implement plans and weigh in on areas they have no expertise in.
    McConnell, Pam Funding from Provincial and Federal Governments and exploration of other revenue options that do not rely entirely on the Toronto property tax base. More robust public consultation component needed.
    Melnyk, Andy If wasteful spending of money is rectified, TTC will not only fund itself but will also find additional revenue to fund new transit projects to ease congestion.
    Patel, Daniel  "Programs that only charge passengers by transit time would help balance the cost of long and short rides. I am in support of keeping all approved transit plans moving forward."


  • Candidate Response
    Blackmore, David The negotiating team on all sides should be prepared and understand the limits, and look at external factors such as other employer's compensation packages for similar work, major benefits provided by comparable employers, and recent contract settlement terms for comparable employers in the same industry and geographic area
    McConnell, Pam The City must negotiate fairly and in good faith, ensuring that all parties reach a deal that is affordable to the residents and fair for the workers.
    Melnyk, Andy Eliminating defined benefit pension plan for new municipal employees.
    Patel, Daniel Look for wasted or redundant programs and try to maintain a motivated, effective workforce while saving money. Balance is the key to success in labour negotiations.


  • Candidate Response
    Blackmore, David Yes. Culture and recreational programs, hosting major events. Outsourcing city owned theatres where it makes sense.
    McConnell, Pam Some P3s work. However P3s that surrender operation of a public service or asset costs more and does not serve the public.
    Melnyk, Andy  Ontario Place + Don Lands.
    Patel, Daniel Partnerships are important for urban planning and expansion, job creation and organized events. Street festivals such as Buskerfest is just one example of how these partnerships can help fund charities and programs around our city.


  • Candidate Response
    Blackmore, David Leadership, reputation and a focused council, protecting neighborhoods, safety, heritage, public spaces, trees and greenery, small businesses, parks, schools and the environment. Take the lead on community initiatives at council and be accountable to the community by issuing regular reports, hosting digital forums and roundtable discussions with citizens.
    McConnell, Pam Affordable housing. I will continue to seek out opportunities to facilitate rental housing that is affordable for all levels of income.
    Melnyk, Andy Safety, cleanliness (graffiti removal) will be on top of my list. I plan to make our Ward 28 to be a model for all wards.
    Patel, Daniel Transportation and making Toronto more family friendly. Making safe environments for people to enjoy(outdoor or indoor) is a definite priority of mine.

 

The full responses

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

    I believe the goal of council should be to set the inflation rate as a target and live within their means.

    However there is trouble ahead, the province cut pooling revenue funds for Toronto and their will be financial challenges in 2015.

    I will work with council to push the province to not make any cuts to the city where crucial services are delivered.

    The city has to balance the books, borrowing and raising taxes should not be an option, we should only increase spending when it is needed and we have the revenue from growth and prosperity to support it.

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

    Unnecessary administration and high salaries would be the first place to find savings.

    I would begin budget consultations with citizens early in the process so we ensure that voices are heard and we don’t have oversubscribed deputations and marathon meetings, which divide us and usually result in hasty decisions.

    Once a full hearing of programs and services by citizens brought forward, I would share the information and present options for savings, efficiency and staying within our overall budget.

    I believe an informed citizenry if given the opportunity will understand, support and work with council to operate within our budget if it is seen as a fair and open process.

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

    I would work with citizens to consider the size and composition of council.  I have walked the entirety of Ward 28 on many occasions it is large and diverse like many other wards in our city.

    My goal is to get council at its current size functioning properly in a professional, respectful way that brings citizens together and serves them well.

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

    Only if it proven that on the west side it is working well and citizens are getting good service while the city is saving money.

    I would also improve any future contracts by making them shorter and stipulate that trucks are maintained by contractors to avoid high number of complaints like we have had in district 2.

    I support and would expand service contracts for qualified organizations to deliver community services such as recreation and culture. I would also work with local groups to help strengthen their financial stability by encouraging private sector partnerships and local volunteer fundraising programs.

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

    Immediately eliminating the MLTT would result in increased property taxes and or cuts in services of up to $300 million.

    Step #1

    Home and business buyers currently pay MLTT upfront, at a time when they can least afford it. If payments were spread out it would make it easier for buyers and sellers.

    Step #2

    Gradually reduce rates, in line with development and business growth, which ultimately generates more property tax revenue to offset reductions.

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

    While small business is the growth engine of new jobs it also has a high failure rate within the first five years.

    I was the Executive Director of the Toronto Youth Pluralistic Pilot Program 2009-2012 for St. Jamestown youth 15-29 years which had an 85% success rate for getting new immigrant and marginalized youth into employment, education, training and volunteer work. A major conclusion of the pilot was a need for more paid internships to enable youth to obtain valuable job experience and grow with those businesses organizations. Businesses are more likely to hire an intern before going outside.

    Therefore I would advocate for the creation of paid internships for 15- 24 year olds, the hardest hit by unemployment. The participating small businesses and start-ups would be able to increase human resources during their crucial start up phases.  The interns would have a greater chance to be hired on a permanent basis with the participating businesses as they grow.

    Funds for the internship program could be sourced by including private sector participants in existing employment programs like Toronto’s Investing in Neighborhoods, (now only available to non profit charitable sector) and attract matching funds from other levels of government and private sector partners.

    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 take a serious look at Tax Increment Financing and expand scope of transit planning to allow for new commercial and residential properties to raise future transit revenues.

    It is a tremendous waste when a new government is elected and changes plans abruptly that already well underway (providing those plans are still reasonable). City council should focus on the policies for the planning process and the larger vision, instead of trying to implement plans and weigh in on areas they have no expertise in.  We need to move on with existing agreements and manage those agreements so we avoid overruns and get the best results for citizens, as time is of the essence.

    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 negotiating team on all sides should be prepared and understand the limits, and look at external factors such as other employer’s compensation packages for similar work, major benefits provided by comparable employers, and recent contract settlement terms for comparable employers in the same industry and geographic area. Sometimes looking at comparable employers in other geographic areas can provide the team with favorable economic comparisons.

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

    Yes I see opportunities for P3s in various aspects of service delivery, i.e. culture and recreational programs, hosting major events. I will look at all potential partnerships where they make sense for the benefit of citizens in the most cost effective way.

    Outsourcing city owned theatres where it makes sense.

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

    Leadership, reputation and a focused council, protecting neighborhoods, safety, heritage, public spaces, trees and greenery, small businesses, parks, schools and the environment.

    Take the lead on community initiatives at council and be accountable to the community by issuing regular reports, hosting digital forums and roundtable discussions with citizens.

    Work with city planners to ensure minimal negative impact on quality of life for residents and small businesses during transition, construction and revitalization.

    Ensure adequate infrastructure to support growth by working with resident groups in neighborhoods undergoing revitalization and make them aware of section 37 provisions for this purpose.

    Work with groups to preserve our heritage, tree’s, parks, public spaces and environment.

    Work with local school boards and trustees to ensure schools are safe and surrounding city property areas are well maintained.

    Play a direct role in local police community response initiatives and work with resident groups to solve long-term problems with crime and social deviancy.

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

    No

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

    While there are always efficiencies that can be found and should always be sought out and taken advantage of, the city does not have excessive waste or a spending problem.

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

    No. Council is about representing and responding to the people.  Reducing the number of Councilllors and increasing the size of the wards would drastically reduce the ability to represent residents or deal with their issues.

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

    No. I have consistently voted against contracting out.

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

    This is an important revenue stream that needs to be maintained.  The alternative would be a cut in services equal to the entire annual operating budget of Parks, Forestry & Recreation.

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

    We have seen a number of head offices move into the downtown core.  The reasons that they give is the walkability, transit services, public spaces, and other amenities that make it an attractive place for businesses to operate.  Continuing to fund these civic improvements, as well as encouraging and facilitating programs and apprenticeship opportunities to assist young people, are some of the actions that will create good, well-paying jobs in Toronto.

    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 provincial and federal governments need to recognize their role in funding large capital projects in the country’s economic centre.  As well, there needs to be a rational exploration of different revenue options that does not rely entirely on the Toronto property tax base.  The current transit planning process needs a more robust public consultation component, to ensure that we get it right before the shovel goes into the ground.  I have worked with our City staff to bring about this very initiative in the planning for the downtown relief line.

    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 must negotiate fairly and in good faith, ensuring that all parties reach a deal that is affordable to the residents and fair for the workers.

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

    There may be opportunities to partner with the private sector, such as having a head lessee operate the retail at Union Station or in the partnership with Daniels and TCH in the revitalization of Regent Park. These work when it is a true partnership with the City is in the driver’s seat so that there is proper accountability and assurance of the public interest.  A   P3s that surrenders operation of a public service or asset costs more and does not serve the public.  One need only look at the 407 fiasco as an example.

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

    Housing that is affordable.  I will continue to seek out opportunities to facilitate rental housing that is affordable for all levels of income. I pushed to ensure that affordable housing is an important component in the West Don Lands and East Bayfront developments, and accelerated affordable units in a pilot project in the Bayside development.  The Regent Park revitalization is demonstrating the needs and benefits of high quality affordable housing in a mixed income community.

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

    Absolutely. I do support a property tax cap ensuring future hikes are no greater than the rate of inflation. Ideally, it should be less than the inflation rate.

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

    TTC is certainly the place where you could advocate for finding savings in the current city budget. I also believe that further review of the structure of other agencies would result in finding additional savings.

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

    I do support reducing the size of Toronto City Council. The best example is city of Los Angeles where the number of councillors is about 1/3 compared to Toronto. That leads me to believe that there are many inefficiencies that can be improved upon.

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

    My personal knowledge of truck operators and garbage handlers leads me to believe that they certainly deserve their jobs and the money they earn. As to the rest of the structure, I will closely review them once in the office (including any other agencies).

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

    My position is that MLTT is hindrance to the growth of Toronto economy, therefore I would support reducing or eliminating it.

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

    We must put liberal government to the word and fire up infrastructure revitalization programs, accelerate plans for Don Lands with private sector. This will result in extra revenue coming from tourism as well as will create new jobs alleviating high unemployment in Toronto.

    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 strongly believe that after horrific wasteful spending of money is rectified, TTC will not only fund itself but will also find additional revenue to fund new transit projects to ease congestion.

    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?

    Eliminating defined benefit pension plan for new municipal employees. Limiting or eliminating streetcars that cripple our city and are extremely costly.

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

    The one that sticks in my mind is Ontario Place + Don Lands.

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

    Safety, cleanliness (graffiti removal) will be on top of my list. I plan to make our Ward 28 to be a model for all wards.

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

    Taxes are the lifeblood of any city. Without proper funding, nothing can happen. Funding needs to come from somewhere and with years of property tax freezes, it may seem hard to understand why property taxes need ever increase. However, without gradual increases, Toronto will face increased deficits in our budget which in turn result in drastic future cost cutting. We all need to be realistic. We live in one of the world’s greatest and biggest cities. To maintain all of the services andinfrastructure, monies need to be collected.

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

    I support a proposed savings to the budget by ending jobs throughout the city that are considered paid duty. For example, having cadet and security co-op programs partnering with the Toronto Police to oversee areas such as construction sites, traffic control, and light duty patrols. This would have a two fold impact, creating new jobs for our youth while saving money for our tax payers.

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

    I do not support the reduction of Toronto City Council. Toronto is an extremely important part of the Canadian landscape. Each area of Toronto is divided and allocated to a particular ward. It is a huge responsibility to represent all of the residents within a ward. To do this effectively, council members are needed. Residents in a particular ward deserve to have someone who has a stake in their community. Reducing the number of councillors only allows for a broader net, which will in turn cause lower priority issues to never get addressed.

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

    I am in support of strategies that would save the city and tax payer money. While there are many pros and cons to private vs public, I think it is important to take each service separately and not consider them all as equal. Making sure worker’s rights are protected while still doing the job well, efficiently and in a cost saving manner is critical.

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

    The Municipal Land Transfer tax brings in much needed revenue for the City of Toronto. I am however, in favour of reducing it over time as other sources of tax revenues can be found. The fact is that Toronto needs taxes to run effectively. So finding other tax sources that have less impact on Toronto economics would be a critical first step.

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

    Employment is a very important issue. This includes such things as fair wages for all, creating new jobs for our youth and to have the safety and rights of each employee protected. Toronto has an employment crisis starting in the 25 to 54 age group. Working tightly with the private and public sector to identify jobs that can be be done by new graduates, internship programs and mentorship programs are all key contributors to creating jobs. It is also helpful to have a system that can monitor up to datestatistics within industries that need workers, allowing students to understand the job market and future potential before making lifelong career choices.

    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?

    Transportation has been a main issue for many years. There is no clear answer to this dilemma. We all know new transit lines are needed to get all of the residents of Toronto around. Putting systems in place to operate the transportation more efficiently is critical. Programs that only charge passengers by transit time would help balance the cost of long and short rides. I am in support of keeping all approved transit plans moving forward.

    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?

    Understanding the needs of the residents of each ward is critical. Look for wasted or redundant programs and try to maintain a motivated, effective workforce while saving money. Balance is the key to success in labour negotiations.

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

    I think public and private partnerships are key to the success of any ward. Partnerships are important for urban planning and expansion, job creation and organized events. Street festivals such as Buskerfest is just one example of how these partnerships can help fund charities and programs around our city.

    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 major issues, besides transportation, is making Toronto more family friendly. More and more people want to stay downtown and raise a family. It is critical that we makeresources available for people who transition from single to multiple dwellings including those who want to start a family. Making sure all areas have access to a percent of larger living spaces(2 or more bedrooms), parks, schools and playgroundsare important. Making safe environments for people to enjoy(outdoor or indoor) is a definite priority of mine.