2014 City Council Election: Ward 35 Scarborough Southwest

The Incumbent:

Michelle Berardinetti

The Race

We are disappointed that Ward 35 incumbent, Michelle Berardinetti did not respond to our survey.  Amongst the survey responses we did receive, Toronto Police Services and the TTC were suggested as areas where Council can find efficiencies. Ideas for growing Toronto’s job market include adopting community benefit agreements on construction projects and providing incentives to Toronto companies that hire people who reside in Toronto.

Candidates Who Did Not Participate: Sharif Ahmed, Teferi Assefa, Councillor Michelle Berardinetti, Anwarul Kabir, Saima Shaikh, Shahid Uddin

The Breakdown

  • Candidate Response
    Bocking, Paul No
    Upwood, Christopher Yes
    Woychesko, Jason Yes


  • Candidate Response
    Bocking, Paul Toronto Police Services
    Upwood, Christopher Responsible spending decisions.
    Woychesko, Jason TTC


  • Candidate Response
    Bocking, Paul No
    Upwood, Christopher No
    Woychesko, Jason No


  • Candidate Response
    Bocking, Paul No
    Upwood, Christopher Will consider
    Woychesko, Jason Will consider


  • Candidate Response
    Bocking, Paul No
    Upwood, Christopher Will consider
    Woychesko, Jason Supports increasing MLTT and decreasing for first-time home buyers.


  • Candidate Response
    Bocking, Paul Adopt community benefit agreements on City construction projects worth over $20 million, which would require consortiums to prioritize hiring in nearby neighbourhoods with high unemployment as well as meeting with local small-medium contractors. Increasing training opportunities would mean more pre-apprenticeship programs, offering easier entry to building trades apprenticeships.
    Upwood, Christopher Necessary infrastructure upgrades will create jobs. Financial or real estate corrections could have a strong negative impact on local jobs. Building resilient communities is crucial to weathering any future economic downturn.
    Woychesko, Jason Reward companies for having employees in the same city/portal code as their workplace. This can also curb outsiders from buying homes outside of Toronto and freeloading on our infrastructure without paying a cent in taxes.


  • Candidate Response
    Bocking, Paul Funding from the Provincial and Federal governments. On the other hand, LRT routes proposed to replace the Scarborough RT, and for Sheppard Avenue and Jane West, are all fully funded by the provincial government, and could be built immediately without creating additional fiscal troubles for the City.
    Upwood, Christopher State of the Gardiner Expressway is the highest priority issue in the fight against gridlock. Unfortunately, road tolls may be necessary to fund this project.
    Woychesko, Jason Eliminating waste from the system. Hire efficiency experts to scrutinize the existing lines.


  • Candidate Response
    Bocking, Paul Bargain fairly. Save the City money by keeping services and operations in-house.
    Upwood, Christopher  We have limited resources. Allocate them wisely.
    Woychesko, Jason We need to look at demands and have game plans going into negotiations, where the people of Toronto are no longer held hostage by city council or by unions.


  • Candidate Response
    Bocking, Paul No. Since experience has demonstrated that the business case for P3s is weak, it is unclear to me why we would pursue more of these opportunities.
    Upwood, Christopher Will consider. Would be very cautious in entering into such arrangements.
    Woychesko, Jason Yes. Open competition will result in better deals and a fair shake for Torontonians.


  • Candidate Response
    Bocking, Paul How neighbourhoods will change and grow over the coming years. These concerns could be related to proposed housing developments, the installation of municipal infrastructure and improvements, crime, the preservation of green space, or property values, to name a few. I believe much more could be done to give residents a meaningful voice, such as town halls on major issues that affect the ward like the city budget and transit, and specific neighbourhood issues such as roads, parks and street lighting.
    Upwood, Christopher Unreasonably high auto insurance premiums. I will work to find a way for drivers in our ward to pay less for their coverage. I will consult with insurance providers and police to find solutions to the reasons for the high rates.
    Woychesko, Jason After school programs, neighbourhood revitalization projects. Ending the cycle of poverty actively, through projects that get people jobs in the city and proper housing. We can ill afford to forget the poor of Toronto.

 

The full responses

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

    Fiscal responsibility must be a guiding principle in City budgeting.  It would be fiscally irresponsible to restrict the City’s future revenue when we cannot predict what contingencies or unexpected demands Toronto will face over the next several years.

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

    The Toronto Police budget has accounted for a growing proportion of the overall city budget, even as violent crime rates continue to fall. Some money here could be reallocated to improve existing public transit, such as increasing the frequency of buses.

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

    Reducing the size of City Council would make City Hall less accountable to the residents of Toronto. It would be more difficult for constituents to contact and obtain assistance from their councillor, and councillors would be less able to serve their wards if they were significantly larger.

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

    By further contracting out garbage collection and selling off the city’s existing fleet and infrastructure, and laying off the staff, we would be giving the contracting companies the ability to dictate terms and prices to the city. This puts the city in a vulnerable negotiating position, especially in situations like last year’s massive flooding, and so would not be fiscally responsible.

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

    In the absence of fairer and more equitable taxes on wealth or income, the Municipal Land Transfer Tax is an important contributor to the City’s operating budget.

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

    Toronto can get moving on transit infrastructure expansion, and adopt community benefit agreements on City construction projects worth over $20 million, which would require consortiums to prioritize hiring in nearby neighbourhoods with high unemployment as well as meeting with local small-medium contractors. Toronto needs more good paying jobs: I would like to see former industrial lands retained as employment zones, and growing high wage sectors like film and media encouraged to utilize them. By paying all City of Toronto employees and contracted employees a living wage, their increased buying power would provide more business for retailers and restaurants across the city. Laid off workers have difficulty finding new jobs with comparable wages and benefits. Newcomers to Canada struggle to find work that recognizes their experience. Many youth in our community remain unemployed after finishing high school, or struggle with debt after college or university. Increasing training opportunities would mean more pre-apprenticeship programs, offering easier entry to building trades apprenticeships. Additional courses could help longtime industrial workers obtain employment in the service sector.

    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 current sources of revenue for the City are insufficient to properly operate the TTC, let alone fund its capital expansion. I strongly support building the Toronto Relief Line subway from Thorncliffe Park, through Pape and into the financial district.  It will cost billions, so doing so depends on negotiating funding from the provincial and federal governments, which have far greater access to revenue than the City. On the other hand, LRT routes proposed to replace the Scarborough RT, and for Sheppard Avenue and Jane West, are all fully funded by the provincial government, and could be built immediately without creating additional fiscal troubles for the City. In the meantime, improvements to the existing operation of the TTC could help transit riders right away, and could be funded with the City’s current sources of revenue, these include: introducing two hour transfers, increasing bus frequency to every 10 minutes or better, expanding night service, and reducing fares from 4-7am, which would especially benefit lower paid workers. I also support freezing adult fares for at least four years, and reductions for seniors, students and children.

    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?

    Bargain fairly. Save the City money by keeping services and operations in-house.

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

    The public-private partnerships with which I am the most familiar in Ontario (the 407 highway, the ORNGE air ambulance, and Mississauga’s cancelled gas power plants), have cost taxpayers hundreds of millions in inflated costs, legal fees and lost revenue.  Since experience has demonstrated that the business case for P3s is weak, it is unclear to me why we would pursue more of these opportunities.

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

    A major issue of concern that I have encountered among residents in my ward is how their neighbourhoods will change and grow over the coming years. These concerns could be related to proposed housing developments, the installation of municipal infrastructure and improvements, crime, the preservation of green space, or property values, to name a few. Many residents want more say over these issues. I believe much more could be done to give residents a meaningful voice, such as town halls on major issues that affect the ward like the city budget and transit, and specific neighbourhood issues such as roads, parks and street lighting. Participatory budgeting could be used to decide how money allocated for ward infrastructure improvements will be used, with local residents developing proposals which they would vote on and rank in priority for funding. We can develop a plan for how we want our ward to grow and change that truly represents the interests of local residents. We must address a growing population, economic change (seen in the deindustrialization of the Golden Mile, the growth of big box stores, and the needs of small business retail areas for reinvestment), and plans for public transit and other municipal infrastructure.

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

    In principle, I support a property tax cap. However, necessary infrastructure upgrades may have to be partially financed through property tax increases. These should be kept to a minimum.

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

    I believe in restrained and responsible spending. Debt and deficits incurred today must be paid by future generations. It is our responsibility to spend and invest with the utmost care and discipline.

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

    No. Community governance and local delivery of services will become increasingly important in the future. Fewer councillors would make doing so more difficult.

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

    I am not opposed to contracting out certain services including garbage collection.

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

    The Land Transfer Tax is a terrible way to collect revenue. I strongly oppose any increase in the MLTT. Reduction or elimination is not likely feasible unless the lost revenues can be made up from other sources.

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

    Necessary infrastructure upgrades will create jobs. However, more importantly, we are at the mercy of economic trends that City Council cannot easily control. Financial or real estate corrections could have a strong negative impact on local jobs. Building resilient communities is crucial to weathering any future economic downturn.

    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?

    Although subways and public transit system upgrades have been the focus of most discussion, the decaying state of the Gardiner Expressway is the highest priority issue in the fight against gridlock. We need a long term fix to the Gardiner immediately. Unfortunately, road tolls may be necessary to fund this project. I will fight to keep tolls as low as possible if they are implemented.

    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?

    We have limited resources. Allocate them wisely.

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

    I am not strictly opposed to P3s but would be very cautious in entering into such arrangements. When partners have differing motivations and priorities, problems can occur.

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

    Ward 35 residents pay unreasonably high auto insurance premiums. I will work to find a way for drivers in our ward to pay less for their coverage. I will consult with insurance providers and police to find solutions to the reasons for the high rates. Another high cost for drivers is gasoline. I plan to find out why gasoline is typically 5 cents cheaper outside of the city, and work to bring our prices down in line with those of our neighbours.

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

    I do NOT support tax hikes that would exceed the rate of inflation.

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

    Analyzing waste in various branches especially the TTC efficiency is poor at best and money is haemorrhaging out of the system at an alarming rate. (i.e. empty buses repeatedly running dead routes or inefficient ones… etc.)

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

    I do not. Unequivocally; reduction of the size of city council reduces the ability for the silent majority to have a voice, the poor should be able to participate in local governement. As a candidate of one of the poorest wards (35), I benefit from the ability to run in a smaller ward with a spending cap that is plausible for the poor and allows a stronger representative democracy at the local level.

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

    Efficiency and eliminating waste is what matters. In the town of Scarborough we were relatively self sufficient prior to amalgamation, now city wide deals are causing havoc with our infrastructure. Eliminating waste in spending is key, but equally important is allowing for bidding to be more localized. Everything should be looked at and bidding for good services should begin. Not just the cheapest the best bang for our bucks.

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

    The land transfer tax serves a purpose in penalizing people flipping homes and making a profit. It should be increased and first time home buyers (within 20years) should be exempt. So that way affordable housing in Toronto is available. Because if we allow real estate speculators to buy homes, do some renovations if any and then resell the home for a profit. It artificially increases house prices and forces more people to look outside the city for homes that are cheaper. Various real estate organization and banks say our real estate prices are between 20-30% over valued. That’s 20-30% new home owners can’t afford.

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

    Reward companies for having employees in the same city/portal code as their workplace. Not only will that free up infrastructure in terms of highway use from the outside cities. But, it makes for a more efficient use of employee time. Plus, this can also curb outsiders from buying homes outside of Toronto and freeloading on our infrastructure without paying a cent in taxes.

    7. It seems City Council has been debating public transit forever with little results to show. How would you fund new transit projects to ease congestion for everyone? Do you feel we need to change the current transit planning process?

    I believe subways are the key. But, also as I mentioned earlier eliminating waste from the system. Maybe hire efficiency experts to scrutinize the existing lines. I use transit myself, one thing is for sure there is a so much waste it’s palpable when you ride an empty bus for 30 minutes or when theres 4 buses in a row all full to the brim. This is poor management and an example of money bleeding out.

    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?

    One thing is for sure we can ill afford another Mayor Miller. Where the city is held hostage and then the group gets everything it wants. We need to look at demands and have game plans going into negotiations, where the people of Toronto are no longer held hostage by city council or by unions. For one we can avoid this by taking care of our infrastructure.

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

    In every aspect of the GTA. Open competition will result in better deals and a fair shake for Torontonians.

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

    After school programs, neighbourhood revitalization projects. Ending the cycle of poverty actively, through projects that get people jobs in the city and proper housing. We can ill afford to forget the poor of Toronto.