2014 City Council Election: Ward 29 – Toronto-Danforth

The Incumbent:

Mary Fragedakis

The Race

Overall, the Ward 29 candidates that participated in our survey agree that Council should look at ways for property taxes to be less of a burden on residents with either freezing them, aligning increases to inflation, or relying less on property taxes for City revenue.  As in other Wards, candidates in Ward 29 suggest eliminating duplication in departments.

Candidates Who Did Not Participate:  Ricardo Francis, Hank Martyn

The Breakdown

  • Candidate Response
    Andre, Dave Yes
    Fragedakis, Mary Will consider
    Papadakis, John Yes
    Vlachos, Jimmy Will advocate for a freeze.


  • Candidate Response
    Andre, Dave Remove duplication in City's ABC's.
    Fragedakis, Mary Build LRT instead of Subway in Scarborough. We always need to be exploring ways to save money including ideas like better quality asphalt or only using paid duty officers where they are needed.
    Papadakis, John Elimination of duplication of services by departments, amalgamation of purchasing departments, strict enforcements of “performance bonds”  by contractors, reduction of consultants, re-deployment of staff for more efficient delivery of services. Demand uploading back to the provincial government of housing and other areas. Conduct a review of middle and upper management staffing.
    Vlachos, Jimmy Need to aggressively pay the debt. Police services and TTC are the top two expenses.  Finding ways to reduce costs while not reducing services is key.


  • Candidate Response
    Andre, Dave No decision at this time.
    Fragedakis, Mary No
    Papadakis, John No
    Vlachos, Jimmy No


  • Candidate Response
    Andre, Dave Yes – will consider contracting out other services.
    Fragedakis, Mary No
    Papadakis, John  Yes – will also consider Wheel Trans system.
    Vlachos, Jimmy  No


  • Candidate Response
    Andre, Dave Yes – reduce
    Fragedakis, Mary No
    Papadakis, John Yes – eliminate
    Vlachos, Jimmy Yes – reduce


  • Candidate Response
    Andre, Dave Reduce barriers to success for small business owners/entrepreneurs and implement a youth employment strategy.
    Fragedakis, Mary Improving public transit, continuing to provide quality city services, like good public libraries, parks & recreation programs, childcare, public health & environmental protection programs, etc.
    Papadakis, John Take complete control of Hydro which includes power generation and the independent ability to buy cheap hydro from other Provinces and States. Reduce red tape for business with the city bureaucracy.  Promote and support the film industry that have created thousands of jobs and can create many more.
    Vlachos, Jimmy Creation of relief lines and additional transit, to fixing the Gardiner Express way and addressing Toronto Community Housing Corps Billion dollar backlog of repairs, will create opportunities.


  • Candidate Response
    Andre, Dave Need a plan that provides instant relief of congestion along the Bloor/Danforth Line.
    Fragedakis, Mary Funding new public transit infrastructure on property taxes is not a wise long term plan. We need to look at how other major cities operate including major American cities. Transit planning must be ongoing and improve interagency & intermodal collaboration.
    Papadakis, John Legislated sustained funding from Provincial and Federal Governments. Toronto must have RELEVANT portions of gas taxes, land transfer taxes, infrastructure funding Provincial offences fines, clean air fees, and more.
    Vlachos, Jimmy The money to do the work necessary to get our city back on track already exists we are simply spending it incorrectly. Stop the infighting, relocate funds for continued expansion and get the Province on board, these are my priorities regarding transit.


  • Candidate Response
    Andre, Dave It is critical to focus on the overall outcome and ensure that the negotiation process is done efficiently and effectively.
    Fragedakis, Mary  "A key to a successful relationship is respect and integrity. This is what businesses understand and use as a guiding principle in their negotiations and labour relations."
    Papadakis, John Be reasonable, realistic and firm, things have changed.  If we work together everyone can benefit, if not, city staff First responsibility is to the taxpayer.
    Vlachos, Jimmy Our labour unions and negotiation team need to find common ground. Finding the balance between both parties wants is the only way to move forward together.


  • Candidate Response
    Andre, Dave Yes, redevelopment of public facilities can be done in partnership with private entities.
    Fragedakis, Mary In general, public private partnerships can work quite well. A good example of that are the Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) in my ward which I have worked with on many projects to improve our local community.
    Papadakis, John Yes, everywhere except water and transit.  I am working on a P3 proposal with a bus manufacturing company.
    Vlachos, Jimmy I think public-private partnerships will play an increasing roll in city services and development.  Working with the private sector in fields such as city maintenance and repair, construction and revitalization, travel and tourism development will be important to our city's growth. As a candidate with real world experience in business and negotiations I look forward to playing a role in our city's exiting future.


  • Candidate Response
    Andre, Dave Transit. My focus would be to find a reliable and functional strategy to transit, which would yield fast relief and be affordable, which is why having a relief line delivered in seven years is a viable solution.
    Fragedakis, Mary Transit and protecting and strengthening liveable neighbourhoods. Safer streets, improving parks & green spaces, healthcare, childcare, dynamic libraries, good jobs, housing costs and affordable recreation programs are all a part of the mix.
    Vlachos, Jimmy More public benches along Danforth Ave and extending free parking to 2 pm on Sundays so church goers can stay in the area and chat with friends. Affordable housing and Transit come up most often along with bringing an end to party politics and inaction at city hall.

 

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 cap the revenue associated with this tax immediately and move towards a phase-out.

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

    There is a lot of overlap ABCs funded by the City and it’s own internal divisional services.  An example is TCH specific funding and what the City is doing on safety and security. I would ensure that were are not double funding certain services and see how we can effectively support ABCs with internal City Services.

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

    I have not yet formulated a position on the current effective size of your Council.

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

    Yes. There are many other services that can and should be reviewed to give taxpayers the best possible deal. However, before making any decision on contracting out a service it is imperative to see the total cause and affect of any decision and measure it’s true cost savings.

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

    In order to have sustainable levels of services, they need to be connected to sustainable sources of funding which the MLTT is not. The city cannot forgo the $300 million in annual revenue in one stroke but needs to reduce its dependency on this revenue source. Middle class families across the city who had to pay $6000 on their new $500,000 home in Toronto at a time they could least afford. We need to look on how those funds are spent and see where efficiencies can be captured.

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

    We have a responsibility to individuals that are currently employed and to prospective employees are both provided the education, training, and skills they need to maintain or gain employment in Toronto. My approach would be to reduce barriers to success for small business owners/entrepreneurs and implement a youth employment strategy.

    Small Business: The businesses along the Danforth, Pape, and Broadview are what keep the community thriving and attracting visitors from different parts of the city. I will prioritize investment and protection of small businesses while advocating for greater benefits for small businesses, thus allowing for more employment opportunities with better wages. “Thriving businesses result in a thriving workforce.”

    Youth Employment: Connect youth with employers and ensure that they have access to the right training programs that will be beneficial to their future jobs/careers.  Youth Unemployment is above twenty percent which is unacceptable for a city such as Toronto, therefore, I stress the importance of supporting small businesses and reducing taxes for entrepreneurs.

    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?

    In order to keep public transit affordable and accessible we need a plan that provides instant relief of congestion along the Bloor/Danforth Line. My position is based on a simple premise “lower commute times will result in more affordable and accessible 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?

    The approach must be one that builds consensus.  My advice would be that it is critical to focus on the overall outcome and ensure that the negotiation process is done efficiently and effectively.

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

    Yes, redevelopment of public facilities can be done in partnership with private entities. Here TCH has led the way with the revitalization of four major communities over the last six years. We can learn and expand from this example of a strong public-private partnership.

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

    The topic issue in Ward 29 is transit.  Public transit in Toronto needs to be accessible and affordable for everyone who relies on its use.  My focus would be to find a reliable and functional strategy to transit, which would yield fast relief and be affordable, which is why having a relief line delivered in seven years is a viable solution.

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

    There is merit in keeping property taxes in line with inflation. In Toronto, property taxes make up too large a percent of the City’s revenue. Most major American cities depend on property taxes for about 20% of City revenues whereas for Toronto that figure is about 39%. We need to explore some of the revenue tools they use and begin to shift the emphasis off of property taxes because that, especially when combined with market value assessment, can create some precarious situations. The goal of this shift is not to increase taxes but to make them fairer.

    We also need to realize that quality city services are a critical investment in the economic success of our city. As many know, the Toronto Board of Trade estimates that congestion costs our local economy $6 billion a year in lost productivity. I agree with them that investing in public transit infrastructure is the key to addressing that problem. The federal and provincial governments also need to pay their share of those costs.

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

    We could save about a billion dollars by sticking with the current plan for expanding rapid transit in Scarborough and not switching to the 3 stop subway extension.

    We always need to be exploring ways to save money including ideas like better quality asphalt or only using paid duty officers where they are needed. However, it is always important to avoid the pitfall of being penny wise and pound foolish. Back in December 2011, I argued against cuts to the City’s tree pruning budget. Unfortunately, we proceeded with those cuts and paid for that decision multifold during the ice storm.

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

    If we reduced the size of Council, Torontonians would just have less access to their City Councillor. Fewer City Councillors would give the average resident less of a say in the affairs of the City. As well, Councillors are like the complaints department. If there are too few then residents’ complaints are less likely to get addressed.

    I believe wards should be about half the size of federal ridings. Currently, there is an independent study being conducted of new ward boundaries that will also review ward size. This process will include a public consultation and I am interested in hearing directly from the residents of Ward 29 on this matter.

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

    About 75% of Toronto’s garbage collection is in private hands – when you include condos, apartment buildings and commercial properties. Many jurisdictions have run into trouble with predatory pricing when they no longer have any capacity to do garbage collection. We would need to consider this and environmental issues and proceed with caution when considering any changes.

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

    There are two general principles I bring to bear in understanding tax policy. Taxes need to be fair and their impact must be carefully thought through to mitigate unintended consequences. Consider our federal and provincial income tax regimes. They are by and large progressive in that they are based on a person’s ability to pay. We need to bring that principle to bear on our municipal tax regime. Most major American cities have a more diverse revenue stream than Toronto. We need to begin to move to adapt that model and decrease the burden on property taxes.

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

    We must take direct action, like attracting businesses to Toronto, and create the conditions for a strong local economy.

    The latter involves improving public transit, continuing to provide quality city services, like good public libraries, parks & recreation programs, childcare, public health & environmental protection programs, etc. In 2011, Toronto was ranked second best city in the world in an annual report of the top 26 “Cities of Opportunity” by PricewaterhouseCoopers. Only New York City was ranked higher. If you read that report, they stressed that one of the areas that Toronto did so well in was health, safety and security. There is no doubt that quality City services are why Toronto ranked so high.

    Business incubation programs, Enterprise Toronto and Invest Toronto all do important work strengthening and attracting businesses to Toronto. As someone who started their own business from scratch over 10 years ago and as a member of the Toronto Board of Trade, I was able to truly appreciate how much Enterprise Toronto helps businesses in Toronto. As our federal government seems to withdraw from its traditional role of helping match up job seekers and employers, the City needs to continue to support programs and agencies that do that.

    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 new public transit infrastructure on property taxes is not a wise long term plan. We need to look at how other major cities operate including major American cities. Philadelphia, for example, has a small but helpful tax on people who work in Philadelphia but live elsewhere. New York has a payroll tax between 0.1 and 0.34 percent and a sales tax of 0.375 percent. Again, the federal and provincial governments also need to pay their share of those costs.

    Yes, the current transit planning process must be changed. We need a greater emphasis on innovation and collaboration. We must stop doing transit planning on a piecemeal and intermittent basis. It must be ongoing and improve interagency & intermodal collaboration. That is why I am pleased City Council passed a motion of mine to look into the feasibility of establishing an ongoing forum for discussing transit planning that would have GO, Metrolinx, City Planning, the TTC, transit groups like Transport Action Ontario (the key group advocating electrifying GO) and interested residents with a focus on innovation and collaboration.

    This new approach would mean we are always working to improve public transit. It would mean when we have a debate on building new rapid transit lines we would have better information to base our decision on. This should be funded through a program like the National Research Council. As it will lead to better public transit and thus reduce congestion on our roads, it would be a wise investment especially given how much we spend to operate public transit and how much new rapid transit lines cost to build.

    The Toronto Board of Trade says transportation congestion costs our city’s economy about $6 billion in lost productivity. I agree with the Board of Trade that we need more public transit infrastructure in order to fix this problem. We also need new cycling infrastructure – bikes take up a lot less room than cars – and to make our city more walkable. To help everyone get around, we have to take better care of our roads and sidewalks including better quality repairs and resurfacing, better coordination of the work done on them and tighter controls on how they’re closed for construction work on adjacent properties.

    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?

    Labour negotiations and labour relations are always important. A key to a successful relationship is respect and integrity. This is what businesses understand and use as a guiding principle in their negotiations and labour relations.

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

    In general, public private partnerships can work quite well. A good example of that are the Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) in my ward which I have worked with on many projects to improve our local community.

    ‘P3’ though is often used to denote a specific type of public-private partnership. For example the cancelled gas plants were P3s and taxpayers ended up on the hook for a billion dollars for gas plants that were never built. So, I think we need to proceed with extreme caution on that type of public-private partnership.

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

    Transit, which I discuss above, and protecting and strengthening liveable neighbourhoods are the top issues in my ward. Ward 29 has many wonderful, dynamic, family friendly neighbourhoods.

    Safer streets, improving parks & green spaces, healthcare, childcare, dynamic libraries, good jobs, housing costs and affordable recreation programs are all a part of the mix. Seniors and young families are the two fastest growing demographics in ward 29 and these problems are even more acute for these residents.

    Toronto is great city but success can create problems like overdevelopment and affordability issues. I have had success using community consultation and mediation in addressing development issues. Unfortunately, the Ontario Municipal Board has created an environment that greatly limits the input of residents, City Planning staff and Councillors alike from the planning process.
    Alas, our success is not shared by all. For many Torontonians, these problems are quite stark and require more vigorous solutions.
    Addressing this multi-faceted issue requires helping residents navigate the system and when necessary working to change it.

  • 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?

    Elimination of duplication of services by departments, amalgamation of purchasing departments, strict enforcements of “performance bonds”  by contractors, reduction of consultants, re-deployment of staff for more efficient delivery of services. Demand uploading back to the provincial government of housing and other areas. Conduct a review of middle and upper management staffing.

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

    Only if the people of Toronto receive some form of compensation and the city council receives more powers.  To reduce democratic representation to the same level of federal and provincial without some “giveback “  will be harmful to Toronto in the long run and will lessen our negotiation powers with other levels of government.  The current system is dysfunctional, I intend to develop a system that has more powers for the mayor and will permit a system similar to that of Vancouver and Montreal.

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

    Yes,  I would like to review the wheel trans system and believe that the taxi industry may be able to deliver this service far more efficiently, as for other services I am always interested to find more efficient and cost effective service delivery.

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

    Totally!  Elimination and will make demands of the province of Ontario that Toronto receives a proportion of the original land transfer from the provincial government or eliminate it outright.

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

    Since it has fallen on Toronto to yet again take on the responsibilities of the other levels of government on jobs, I intent to; a) take complete control of Hydro which includes power generation and the independent ability to buy cheap hydro from other Provinces and States. Ontario and Toronto prospered all these decades because our forefathers had the foresight to provide cheap hydro, this attracted manufacturing and jobs; we need to return to this mindset cheap hydro = JOBS!   Reduce red tape for business with the city bureaucracy.  Promote and support the film industry that have created thousands of jobs and can create many more. Make Toronto the financial, film and technology center of Canada. Improve tourism.

    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?

    Yes!

    Toronto needs a new deal with the provincial and federal governments on legislated sustained funding.  Many countries around the world fund transit directly to the municipalities. Transit and cites are the economic engines of a country, we have an 18th century system of taxation and a 21st century costs.  Toronto must have RELEVANT portions of gas taxes, land transfer taxes, infrastructure funding Provincial offences fines, clean air fees, and more.  Failing this Toronto must review its relationship with the province of Ontario. NO NEW TAXES! NO TOLLS!

    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 reasonable, realistic and firm, things have changed.  If we work together everyone can benefit, if not, city staff First responsibility is to the taxpayer.

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

    Yes, everywhere except water and transit.  I am working on a P3 proposal with a bus manufacturing 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 Response Given.

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

    I support and will advocate for a property tax freeze.  Since 2006 property taxes have increase an average 2.41% each year.  The increases have come at a time when the city has seen a spike in real estate values which directly affect property tax assessment. In the past 8 years my district, Ward 29 has seen property values double. As the value of a property increase so do the taxes. It’s high time home owners, especially fixed income home owners receive a break from property tax increases.

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

    The city needs to be more efficient in it’s day to day activities. Debt charges are the city’s third largest expense. Debt costs the city $300 Million annually which is good for the banks but not for Toronto’s citizens. We need to aggressively pay the debt. Police services and TTC are the top two expenses. Both are immensely important to the city.  Finding ways to reduce costs while not reducing services is key. The city would benefit from higher fuel efficiency in public vehicles. Japan has public transport vehicles with engines that turn off at stop lights saving fuel and reducing pollution.  Audi has similar technologies in their luxury vehicles in Europe. I’d like to see savings through increased efficiency in everyday procedures while maintaining quality service and security.

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

    The current problem with city council is there inability to cooperate for the common good of the city.  I don’t think reducing the number of councillors would improve service in each individual ward.  It’s important to have reasonably sized wards in order to have quality customer service.  Reasonably sized wards allow councillors to focus on ward specific issues similar to a realtor’s specialized knowledge of a particular market or a police departments specialized outreach programs within a community.

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

    When it comes to the privatisation of services I believe it’s important to consider the current and future financial impact to the city. Having a system in place that provides excellent customer service is key especially when we look back to 2009.

    Privatisation on the West side of Yonge St has been going well. Moving the waste collection operations to GFL has saved the city $11.5 Million annually and had the added bonus of creating a competitive environment between the public and private sector. Competition means better customer service.  As a result there has been a drop in complaints on the east side as well as lower over time costs.

    Having private and public waste collection gives the city options and leverage in contract negotiations. Protecting public jobs is important along with protecting the public’s interests.  At the end of the day the tax payer needs to see the benefit of the services they pay for.

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

    As a resident I am opposed to the Toronto Land Transfer Tax.  I knew that the tax would negatively affect real estate transactions and the spin off revenues in construction, appliances and furniture sales, and moving services just to name a few. We have seen an increase in commute times, congestion, and pollution because people moved outside the city to avoid the additional tax.

    An Ipsos Reid poll showed that 58% of Torontonian’s support a reduction in the TLTT. A recent article in the Toronto Star suggests the TLTT has led to a $2.3 Billion drop in economic activity, and repealing it would create thousands of jobs. I’d like to see the tax eliminated but judging by the extreme resistance at city council we are more likely to see a reduction in the tax.  As councillor for Ward 29 I will work towards a reduction in TLTT as well as a larger tax rebate for home purchasers.

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

    The city requires a lot of work.  From the creation of relief lines and additional transit, to fixing the Gardiner Express way and addressing Toronto Community Housing Corps Billion dollar backlog of repairs. There are a fair amount of employment opportunities and spin off opportunities.

    The main order of business is having elected officials who can work together to get the work done.  The city has been talking about a ‘Downtown Relief Line’ since the early 80′s.  I am dedicated to working with city council to put an action plan together and get our city back on track.

    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 money to do the work necessary to get our city back on track already exists we are simply spending it incorrectly.  We need to reallocate funds and make transit expansion a continuing project.

    Councillors need to stop fighting and start working. The province needs to step to the plate as well. Currently Ontario subsidises .78 cents/rider. Montreal receives $1.16/rider and Vancouver receives $1.62/rider.  Stop the infighting, relocate funds for continued expansion and get the Province on board, these are my priorities regarding 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?

    Our labour unions and negotiation team need to find common ground.  Sustainability is the common ground. The labour union wants long term employment, job security, and structured wage increases while the city and tax payer need reliable service and customer care at competitive rates.  Finding the balance between both parties wants is the only way to move forward together.

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

    I think public-private partnerships will play an increasing roll in city services and development.  Working with the private sector in fields such as city maintenance and repair, construction and revitalization, travel and tourism development will be important to our city’s growth. As a candidate with real world experience in business and negotiations I look forward to playing a role in our city’s exiting future.

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

    While canvassing Ward 29 I’ve had residents ask for more public benches along Danforth Ave and extending free parking to 2 pm on Sundays so church goers can stay in the area and chat with friends. I’ve heard complaints about parking ticketing procedures and a lack of response from the city services when a complaint has been filed.

    There is a concern regarding customer service in the ward. Affordable housing and Transit come up most often along with bringing an end to party politics and inaction at city hall.

    As city councillor I would work to get our city back on track and solve the issues surrounding my ward.  I believe its time to put peoples needs before politics.