2014 City Council Election: Ward 31 Beaches-East York

The Incumbent:

Janet Davis

The Race

Some of the Ward 31 candidates that participated in our survey offer harsh criticism of the incumbent when asked what the top issue in the Ward is. Janet Davis did not respond to our survey so her views are not available in our Voting Guide for concerned citizens and taxpayers to view. One candidate in Ward 31 suggests a 30-40% decrease in Councillor salaries as a way to produce savings.

Candidates Who Did Not Participate: Councillor Janet Davis, George Papadakis, Stephen Prince, Janet Sherbanowski, Bob Smith

The Breakdown

  • Candidate Response
    MacDonald, Brenda Yes
    Rahman, Russell Yes
    Sokovnin, Michael Yes
    Turnbull, Mark Yes


  • Candidate Response
    MacDonald, Brenda Lower the expenses and (office(s) of City Councillors. Also Toronto Police and Emergency Services budgets.
    Rahman, Russell Privatizing garbage collection, reducing non-essential city expenses, and cutting the City Councillor's $105,397 salary by 30-40%.
    Sokovnin, Michael Trim the fat at the administrative levels…far too many managers making huge salaries.
    Turnbull, Mark Savings can be found in our contracts for city work.  I know this from personal experience as I've sat the table representing the contractor on many city heritage projects. I believe this could have saved taxpayers a typical 5% on many of the contracts I've executed.


  • Candidate Response
    MacDonald, Brenda Yes
    Rahman, Russell No
    Sokovnin, Michael Yes
    Turnbull, Mark Yes


  • Candidate Response
    MacDonald, Brenda No
    Rahman, Russell Yes
    Sokovnin, Michael Yes
    Turnbull, Mark Will consider


  • Candidate Response
    MacDonald, Brenda Will consider
    Rahman, Russell No
    Sokovnin, Michael Yes – reduce or eliminate
    Turnbull, Mark Yes


  • Candidate Response
    MacDonald, Brenda The City of Toronto works closely with communities to provide job training and employment services but more is needed to connect our business communities, employees and youth to gain employment.
    Rahman, Russell Encourage more local production of goods for increased job potential. Another issue important to me is having the professional qualifications of immigrants accepted. I support entrepreneurship and job mentoring. As well, I support a minimum wage and good Living Wage.
    Sokovnin, Michael Money ear marked for various events/art beautification projects can be rolled up into programs to hire our youth. Another area I would like to see be revisited is Casino/Entertainment centre. There is already a Casino at Woodbine. Why not try to entice some major casino player from Vegas like Steve Wynn to come and expand the present Woodbine one. Possibly have Circe de Soleil on a permanent basis. performing there instead of the portlands.
    Turnbull, Mark  Free private resources by eliminating restrictions.


  • Candidate Response
    MacDonald, Brenda Ward 31 requires a much needed relief line along the Danforth subway line, as well as, an extensive look at how much service we require and where. If transit is so important than the Provincial and Federal Government needs to invest yesterday.
    Rahman, Russell I would pursue funding from the provincial and federal government, and ensure that transit is seen as priority, and important to be upgraded and reliable. Another option is partnering with the private sector for funding and efficient structure.
    Sokovnin, Michael Subways is the way to go. In addition, I would like to see an underground walkway between Main Subway station and the Main GO train station handicap accessible. That would create a relief line to the downtown business crowd. In addition, I would do away with streetcars and utilize accordion buses. especially on King street coming in from the west end of the city. In the summertime or better weather climate, I would use double decker busses.
    Turnbull, Mark I'd advocate pushing for more provincial and federal monies be applied.  Between the gas plants, e-health, air ambulances, and a billion dollar fiasco of a G20, I count at least 3 billion dollars blown.


  • Candidate Response
    MacDonald, Brenda Should consider the attrition that has occurred to our labour force in the city. There are fewer staff, fewer wages and ultimately less service. Labour is currently (in most cases) receiving a living wage and should continue to do so. Negotiations for wage increases will have to be in line with inflation but not more.
    Rahman, Russell Keep labour group pay raises and benefits to a level preventing having to increase property tax, and even try to get labour groups to agree to a voluntary wage freeze. Also, to push for some flexibility to be able to contract out certain services. Have strike-related contingency plans in place.
    Turnbull, Mark Take a page from the private sector.  While a journeyman tradesman myself, and union member, I reject many of the gold plated benefits that accrue in the public sector.


  • Candidate Response
    MacDonald, Brenda Public-private partnerships may be a consideration with respect to mixed development involving the City of Toronto, with creative, responsible developers who support Planning of course.
    Rahman, Russell I do, especially if it means that it is one way to save Torontonians from paying more tax. I think it is important to look at how the City can partner with the private sector in the area of public transit. Public-private partnerships also can work well for sports and recreation.
    Sokovnin, Michael Yes – transit. Opening up various high density stations to private business could be a quite profitable for the city.
    Turnbull, Mark The 100 block of Cedarvale avenue.  32 owners could partner with the city to set parameters of what could be built, and what limitations should apply.


  • Candidate Response
    MacDonald, Brenda The inconsistency in service of our City Council Representation here in Ward 31 – Beaches/East York and in chambers is no longer a service that citizen wish to support.
    Rahman, Russell Safety and security in the streets, and in both business and residential areas.  As part of visible security in my ward, I would increase street and community lighting, and install cameras in commercial areas and major streets, with signage, with the purpose to prevent and record/identify criminal activity.
    Sokovnin, Michael Main issue is the leadership or lack of leadership and vision. The incumbent has been a councillor for 10 years which I think is two years too long.  Transit seems to be the biggest concern for the citizens of Toronto including East York.
    Turnbull, Mark I intend to make this one stagnant ward frontage a top issue, as it reflects a restrictionist attitude that keeps a foot on the necks of individual homeowners.

 

The full responses

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

    Yes. Taxes are too high for the service we are currently receiving. I am a firm believer that our taxes should not be increased (above inflation). Efficiencies can be achieved at City Hall further. I am not a Councillor Candidate who likes to invent more ways of creating taxes. At the rate our water and utilities are going up, we need a better deal for the citizens of Toronto.

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

    Our current city budget needs to lower the expenses and (office(s) of City Councillors. There is no reason for Councillors to be maintaining more than 2 offices in a ward. Our Toronto Police and Emergency Services budgets need to be addressed and brought into perspective with our current needs for service. Proper governance of Toronto Community Housing is essential.

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

    Yes I support reducing the size of Council. Yes, I do believe this would improve how Council operates and would bring more formal codes of conduct and professionalism to chambers.

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

    No, I do believe that our currently employed garbage collectors are doing a great job east of Yonge Street and the cost to Taxpayers is a known quantity.

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

    Not a fan! The Land Transfer Tax is not appealing to young, first-time buyers; families downsizing; seniors or investors purchasing or selling in Toronto.

    I will admit that the much needed infusion this tax does bring in, offers a great deal more opportunity toward discretion in where this money is allocated and spent. Toronto Community Housing requires extensive repairs and revitalization immediately, some of this should come from this burdening tax.

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

    The City of Toronto works closely with communities to provide job training and employment services but more is needed to connect our business communities, employees and youth to gain employment. If Toronto is expected to improve it’s unemployment rate it must have more to count on from the Provincial and Federal Governments.

    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?

    Ward 31 requires a much needed relief line along the Danforth subway line, as well as, an extensive look at how much service we require and where. The new subway decision by the former council is the wrong one. We should be updating and renewing the Scarborough Rapid Transit on the dedicated line that is there now. It is a fully funded, shovel ready project that should have been started years ago. Let’s have experts decide future projects; not politicians who do not use the service making the decisions for us. If 60% of our travel on the TTC involves buses, then looking at refining bus service is a great start. City Council needs to consider Toronto’s Transit fifty years from now and base that projection on what we will need in the future. The current plan supported by all three levels of government was based on the former Mayor Miller’s plan of LRT transit and no longer applies to the growing needs of Transit in the G.T.A..  Toronto Transit Commission should be world class. If transit is so important than the Provincial and Federal Government needs to invest yesterday.

    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’s negotiating team should consider the attrition that has occurred to our labour force in the city. There are fewer staff, fewer wages and ultimately less service. Labour is currently (in most cases) receiving a living wage and should continue to do so. Negotiations for wage increases will have to be in line with inflation but not more. Austerity is already occurring through attrition.

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

    It is not in the best interest of Torontonians to sell valuable assets. Public-private partnerships may be a consideration with respect to mixed development involving the City of Toronto, with creative, responsible developers who support Planning of course.

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

    The inconsistency in service of our City Council Representation here in Ward 31 – Beaches/East York and in chambers is no longer a service that citizen wish to support. Our City Councillor’s Office(s) should not be communicating through our public education system at all. Only as the information pertains to issues of Toronto Public Health and/or Toronto Police Service should there be communication through our public education system of schools. Our City Council should be communicating with the citizens of Toronto in a concise, transparent manner, including all departments, the PUBLIC and the City of Toronto, at all times. Citizens should be informed about Development Proposals, changes to our PUBLIC LAND and WATER, as well as, ASSETS  and all things Ward 31.

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

    I support a property tax cap ensuring future hikes are no greater than the rate of inflation.  In most years, the property tax increase has been below the rate of inflation, but we need revenues to keep up with rising costs and the number of Torontonians using services.  I would support a hike to the rate of inflation if necessary, but as a councillor, it would be my priority to not take it beyond that level.

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

    With processes including privatizing garbage collection, reducing non-essential city expenses, and cutting the City Councillor’s $105,397 salary by 30-40%. Also partnering with private sectors, and exploring corporate-sponsor options, such as for Pan-Am Games in 2015.

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

    I feel the present size of City Council for so many diverse neighbourhoods and this population of residents can continue to work well. However, I would suggest reducing City Councillors’ salaries by 30-40%.

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

    I support contracting out garbage collection, and feel that this would make for greater efficiency, also that it would be more cost-effective, and potentially can save the City several million dollars.

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

    I support keeping it.  This tax is a set fee, without future repercussions of other tax. And I see it as a tax that can be used in part to help fund other programs such as reducing TTC fares.

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

    Use my strong business background to continue supporting entrepreneurial efforts, which can lead to greater motivation and job opportunities. Encourage more local production of goods for increased job potential. As an example, our beef industry yields leather, which we can manufacture.  We can also use our scrapyards to manufacture further goods, rather than selling scrap metal to foreign countries. I would work to pursue more foreign investment in Canadian industry for job and revenue potential. Another issue important to me is having the professional qualifications of immigrants accepted. I support entrepreneurship and job mentoring. As well, I support a minimum wage and good Living Wage.

    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 pursue funding from the provincial and federal government, and ensure that transit is seen as priority, and important to be upgraded and reliable. Another option is partnering with the private sector for funding and efficient structure. We should look at the long-term solution the subway planning offers, as an absolutely necessary investment in Toronto’s future as a city of growing population and 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?

    The ideal is to keep labour group pay raises and benefits to a level preventing having to increase property tax, and even try to get labour groups to agree to a voluntary wage freeze. Also, to push for some flexibility to be able to contract out certain services. Have strike-related contingency plans in place.

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

    I do, especially if it means that it is one way to save Torontonians from paying more tax. I think it is important to look at how the City can partner with the private sector in the area of public transit. We need the funding, and this kind of partnered approach can provide a more efficient work environment as well as save taxpapers money. Public-private partnerships also can work well for sports and recreation. This is an area in which the private sector can bring design, marketing and facility expertise to profitable planning and production, also often has ownership connection with league teams, etc.

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

    Safety and security in the streets, and in both business and residential areas.  As part of visible security in my ward, I would increase street and community lighting, and install cameras in commercial areas and major streets, with signage, with the purpose to prevent and record/identify criminal activity.

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

    I support  a tax cap. If possible NO tax increases at all.

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

    Savings can be found by trimmimg the fat at the administrative levels…far too many managers making huge salaries.

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

    It is definitely something to look at…..cut the council down to 22/23 wards which would put it in line with provincial and federal standards.

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

    Most definitely outsourcing the garbage pickup east of Yonge if it will save money. Of course everything will be based on bids including a bid from the present union.

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

    Either reducing it vastly or eliminating it. I find the land transfer tax to be a “rip off”. Earlier in the year, my brother and I owned a house jointly. Due to him owning another property, he decided to give up his half of the house to me. When all was settled, it had cost us several thousands of dollars just to remove his name from the ownership. Most was due to the land transfer tax. Talk about a scam orchestrated by our province and our municipal politicians.

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

    Firstly money ear marked for various events/art beautification projects can be rolled up into programs to hire our youth. Politicians such as Chow and Tory talk about young people not having jobs but they really don’t think about how to accomplish it…it is just political rhetoric. Money ear marked for the ones mentioned above could be used to set up “drop in centres” for young people using older high school or even university students supervising them. This worked quite well in the 60′s  and it kept us from getting in trouble and engaged. Certain schools were opened up and we as kids could come in and play basketball, listen to music, create craft objects etc. all supervised by a mature student. It kept us occupied and off the streets. Another area I would like to see be revisited is Casino/Entertainment centre. There is already a Casino at Woodbine. Why not try to entice some major casino player from Vegas like Steve Wynn to come and expand the present Woodbine one. Possibly have Circe de Soleil on a permanent basis. performing there instead of the portlands. This would generate full and part-time jobs.

    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?

    Firstly, I believe subways is the way to go. It might be somewhat more expensive but it is less of a head ache than above ground. I also do not believe John Tory’s smart track relief system or Olivia Chow’s LRT are  good ideas. Firstly, Tory has not attached any price tag to the project. Secondly, the above ground track ( Tory and Chow) will pose problems in bad weather. How often are there issues with the GO tracks going north to Brampton or the ones leading west to Burlington? Has anyone done a study on that? I am certain there are GO train issues 10 % of the time, possibly more. How is Tory going to move those people if the tracks are down for whatever reason? How often did the present LRT break down going from Kennedy Station to Scarborough Town Centre? And Chow wants more of the same? Not bright ideas from these politicians. I believe the transit system should be an experience. Private companies can open up inside the subways by renting space from the city…for example coffeeshops, eateries, just like one finds in concourses throughout the city. In addition, I would like to see an underground walkway between Main Subway station and the Main GO train station handicap accessible. That would create a relief line to the downtown business crowd. In addition, I would do away with streetcars and utilize accordion buses. especially on King street coming in from the west end of the city. In the summertime or better weather climate, I would use double decker busses. I believe the population of Toronto would enjoy riding one of those busses and be able to appreciate the city that they reside in.

    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?

    No Response Given.

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

    There is always room for public private partnerships especially when dealing with our transit system. Opening up various high density stations to private business could be a quite profitable for the city. Firstly one needs to identify the stations that are high volume. Often people make plans to meet in the subway system  prior to going somewhere. Wouldn’t it be lovely if one can wait for ones acquaintance inside a coffeeshop or a restaurant bar? There would be less crowding on the platforms, less loitering. The private company would be generating income. The customer would be hopefully happy..it`s a win-win situation for all.

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

    There are numerous issues in Ward 31. The main issue is the leadership or lack of leadership and vision.. The incumbent has been a councillor for 10 years which I think is two years too long. There should be a limit of 8 years in all municipal positions. In addition, she has earned a comfortable salary of over a million dollars with very little to show for to the hard working people of East York. The incumbent has her own personal agenda. She is part of a political machine that parachuted her in meaning she owes some political party favours for propping her up. East York used to be the Jewel of Toronto. It was a close knit community where people left their doors open at night and had nothing to fear except some racoons trying to sneak in. Since amalgamation, no one has fought for East York. It has greatly deteriorated. It is time the voices of the people of East York were heard. Time to sweep out the old and bring in some fresh new blood and fresh ideas. Finally, transit seems to be the biggest concern for the citizens of Toronto including East York. Has anyone wondered why that is? It is because of urban sprawl. Houses, condos and other real estate have been sprouting up on every corner or any available lot.  No wonder we have transit issues. The councillors allowed this to occur but did not think of grid lock and other traffic concerns. They saw these developers as golden goose eggs to line the the city coffers. Maybe they should have thought about how the influx of people into these areas was going to affect daily commute….looks like they again fumbled the ball. Like I stated earlier, sweep out the old and let`s get some fresh blood with some money making ideas. Vote Sokovnin, Michael for Councillor of Ward 31. I am not in anyone pocket and don`t own favours to any political interest.

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

    Absolutely

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

    Savings can be found in our contracts for city work.  I know this from personal experience as I’ve sat the table representing the contractor on many city heritage projects.  Especially in the area of ‘unforeseen site conditions’ where the scope of the contract is changed for that reason.  Often, if the city rep had more authority to over-rule the various engineers and architects involved, and apply a little common sense, portions of the contract could be eliminated as opposed to changed.  I believe this could have saved taxpayers a typical 5% on many of the contracts I’ve executed.

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

    I would opt to combine the wards so they reflect the provincial ridings.  Fewer councillor’s might find more unison, and save the city over 2 million dollars per year simply in councillor wages.

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

    I lean toward ‘probably’, but I’d like to have input from those displaced from there jobs, and discover the true human impact.  Snow-plowing would be a logical extension of street service contracting out that might be investigated.

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

    Cash grab.  While I understand the need for revenue tools, used houses, like used cars, have already been taxed on their first sale.  This is the government sticking their hand in our pockets to put it in theirs, then squander that wealth.  I am, in general, a ‘find the savings and trim government’ proponent, rather than a socialist.

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

    Free private resources by eliminating restrictions.  On my block, for example, our houses back on an avenue, rather than a lane.  Because they do, they would, in theory, be eligible for severance, with all the potential that would realize.  So the city restricts us even to park, as lifting the restriction would allow these other freedoms to become possibilities. This is not one big developer coming in to change the face of a neighbourhood, this is 32 individual homeowners in a row denied their personal choice.  If this restriction was lifted on this one-half-of-one-block, 2 million dollars of investment and work might start in the first year alone.  Take the hand from our pockets, get out of our backyards, and people investing in their own properties would generate much needed jobs.

    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?

    Well, first I’d have to be elected, and then look at the tools available.  I’d advocate pushing for more provincial and federal monies be applied.  Between the gas plants, e-health, air ambulances, and a billion dollar fiasco of a G20, I count at least 3 billion dollars blown.  If officials at these levels could be pressured to get under control, money for transit would be the result.

    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?

    Take a page from the private sector.  While a journeyman tradesman myself, and union member, I reject many of the gold plated benefits that accrue in the public sector.  The councillor Davis, now having ‘served’ the city for 12 years, has accumulated a full year’s pay just in severance, if we’re lucky enough to get her out.  This on top of a gold plated pension.

    That kind of nonsense has to stop, considering she’s already been paid more that a million dollars just in wages alone.

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

    The 100 block of Cedarvale avenue.  32 owners could partner with the city to set parameters of what could be built, and what limitations should apply.  The councillor won’t even negotiate.  There’s a private/public partnership on a very tangible level.

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

    I intend to make this one stagnant ward frontage a top issue, as it reflects a restrictionist attitude that keeps a foot on the necks of individual homeowners.  In my view, it may not even be legal under the Charter of rights.  I want people to give serious consideration to that possibility, and question whether keeping people fenced is good for the economy.