2014 City Council Election: Ward 9 – York Centre

The Incumbent:

Maria Augimeri

The Race

In 2010, this was one of the most talked about races in the City with incumbent Councillor Maria Augimeri winning by 89 votes over her nearest challenger Gus Cusimano. In 2014, these opponents face off again with new local candidates. In a ward with many pensioners, there is wide support among candidates to cap property taxes and to find efficiencies in the City budget to keep taxes low. There has been neglect, and there must be improvement, on infrastructure and sewage system repairs. Some good ideas proposed for local job development.

Candidates Who Did Not Participate: Wilson Basantes, Anthony Fernando

The Breakdown

  • Candidate Response
    Augimeri, Maria Will consider
    Cusimano, Gus Yes and move 25 points below inflation
    Hercules, Ances Yes
    Quattrociocchi, Danny Yes


  • Candidate Response
    Augimeri, Maria Eliminate Scarborough subway property tax.
    Cusimano, Gus Line-by-line review of budget; zero-based budgeting; look for public-private partnerships; better purchasing between City, agencies, and boards.
    Hercules, Ances Cut unnecessary spending at City Hall and look for budget efficiencies.
    Quattrociocchi, Danny Reducing the size of City Council; privatizing garbage east of Yonge St; and new labour negotiated deals.


  • Candidate Response
    Augimeri, Maria Yes
    Cusimano, Gus Yes
    Hercules, Ances No but endorses council term limits.
    Quattrociocchi, Danny Yes


  • Candidate Response
    Augimeri, Maria No
    Cusimano, Gus Yes
    Hercules, Ances Yes
    Quattrociocchi, Danny Yes


  • Candidate Response
    Augimeri, Maria No unless public transit and public housing uploaded to province
    Cusimano, Gus Yes to phasing out tax
    Hercules, Ances Yes to elimination
    Quattrociocchi, Danny Yes to reducing and modifying the tax


  • Candidate Response
    Augimeri, Maria Policies can help indirectly stimulate local economic activity and growth. Cancelling Scarborough subway tax will put more money in people's pockets.
    Cusimano, Gus Building subways and a new convention centre would create direct jobs in construction and hospitality. Re-development of Toronto Community Housing would create new jobs. Expansion of Billy Bishop Airport for more business and tourism.
    Hercules, Ances Policies to support more foreign investment in Toronto, reduce red tape, and equal property tax on local business.
    Quattrociocchi, Danny City should work with small business to create jobs for youth.


  • Candidate Response
    Augimeri, Maria Put more money into existing operations such as buses. Don't cancel fully-planned fully-funded transit plans so expansion can start earlier.
    Cusimano, Gus Use public-private partnerships as a revenue tool to expand subway network. Development over subways would increase development charges and realty taxes as another tool.
    Hercules, Ances Supports Scarborough subway but build Light-Rapid Transit (LRTs) because they have a lower budget, better services, and will best serve local business.
    Quattrociocchi, Danny Revenue tools could come from a reformed land transfer tax and development charges. More money from provincial and federal governments.


  • Candidate Response
    Augimeri, Maria The City must adhere to provincial and federal labour laws which will dictate the negotiation process.
    Cusimano, Gus Allow everyone to bid including efficient organizations that are currently excluded from bidding process. City should work in partnership with the unions and let them see the books to propose ideas in the negotiating process.
    Hercules, Ances Along with Council staff I will encourage negotiations deals that are fair to all workers, cost effective and fair to the citizens of Toronto.
    Quattrociocchi, Danny Negotiating team needs to be transparent and fair. Eliminate roadblocks so the process is more efficient.


  • Candidate Response
    Augimeri, Maria P3s "aren't on constituents' minds" but the new hospital in Downsview is an example of a P3 that works.
    Cusimano, Gus Yes, in public transit, TCHC, and infrastructure such as water works. Could also include union pension funds.
    Hercules, Ances Did not provide an answer to this question.
    Quattrociocchi, Danny Yes, for projects such as roads and sewers, transit systems, and affordable housing.


  • Candidate Response
    Augimeri, Maria Scarborough subway tax.
    Cusimano, Gus Funds need to be invested and fairly applied to the ward due to the severe damage caused by sewer damage. Ward is now considered a priority neighbourhood due to missed opportunities with local development and lack of local consultation with community.
    Hercules, Ances Youth unemployment, senior services, affordable programs for our children and regular area maintenance. However, the top issue right now is Downsview Park.  With me as your City Councillor I will stand for an equailibrium of our Green space. I believe a balanced plan including some development would be a great investment for our community; while still keeping most of our park Green.
    Quattrociocchi, Danny Upgrading infrastructure and sewage system especially after damange from floods. Higher density projects in the ward also requires updated infrastructure.

 

The full responses

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

    I support the elimination of the 30-year Scarborough subway tax. My residents are incensed that this property tax hike tax was slipped through to build an unnecessary subway in Scarborough, when the Downsview subway extension in my ward was built without any extra property tax levy. Removing this levy would allow for an honest discussion about property tax tied to inflation rates. However it is an elephant in the room in that discussion.

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

    Eliminating the 30-year Scarborough subway tax will put 1 billion dollars back into taxpayer pockets.

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

    I have always been in favour of decreasing the size of City Council.

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

    We need a check and balance on contracted out services to maintain a competitive environment. Contracting out garbage collection east of Yonge St. may provide a short-term gain, but can prove expensive for taxpayers in the long-run. When a public service is contracted out, and the ability to provide that service is eliminated (sell off all trucks, depots, etc) the government then becomes vulnerable to private contractor price gouging as the ability to bring the service back in-house is virtually impossible without incurring a huge up-front initiation cost. Not wanting to incur these costs or have the difficult conversation, Cities tend to be at the mercy of private contractors. Having half the City’s collection serviced publicly will keep the private collectors honest and costs down. The end goal is to keep the costs down and I believe that is the best way.

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

    I initially voted against the Land Transfer Tax.  I did this because I really believed that the Provincial Government would do its job and begin to un-do the disaster that Premier Mike Harris wrought upon the City of Toronto.  His government stuck the City with all the costs for public transit and public housing– both of which we cannot afford.  Due to the downloaded costs– which are only here in Ontario because nowhere else in the world do municipalities pick up all costs for public housing and public transit, we, as a municipality continue to suffer.  Our residents should not be saddled with costs that are not rightly borne by property taxpayers– public housing and public transit.  Until these items are taken back by the Province, the Municipal Land Transfer Tax cannot be reconsidered.  There is no other way to pay for the additional responsibilities the Harris government imposed on Toronto. The City manager is in agreement with this fact.

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

    Toronto has little power to directly create jobs. However our policies can help indirectly stimulate local economic activity and growth. Eliminating the 30-year Scarborough Subway tax will put more money in people’s pockets, and stimulate the local economy and help job creation.

    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?

    Easing congestion can be immediately established through expanding existing service. Funding a project that is almost decade away with a tax that is 30-years long is the wrong way to get people moving today. Putting more into operations, such as buses, is the best bang for the buck albeit not as much of an exciting solution. Not canceling existing fully-planned, fully-funded, shovel ready plans is the best way to get another expansion project started today. Pandering to a Scarborugh electorate to deliver a subway that will provide less service with a massive tax hike has only proven to delay meaningful transit expansion in that area.   The subway that is being built in Downsview today was voted on almost 30 years ago.

    8. Labour negotiations will be a big part of the next council term. What advice do you have for the city’s negotiating team to get the best deal for taxpayers?

    I’m not a labour negotiator. If both sides feel they can reach a fair deal, I support that. Canadian labour laws and Provincial labour laws dictate the negotiation process.  The City must adhere to provincial and federal laws.

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

    P3′s aren’t on my constituents’ minds as much as the 30-Year Scarborough Subway Tax. They are furious about the “transit levy” they now have to pay, that will triple in 3 years and last for 30 years to pay for an unnecessary subway that they will never use, and serve less people than the original plan.   However, to answer your question more directly, I have been an active supporter and partner in the P3 project in Downsview.  The largest hospital in the City is currently being built on Wilson Avenue with my approval and support.  It is the type of P3 model that works for all concerned.

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

    The top tax issue for my residents is the 30-year Scarborough subway tax. I have held half a dozen community meetings on this issue and have hundreds of petitioners who are frustrated at the fragile vote, led by some which approved the Tax. With respect, for your survey to omit this issue would render it irrelevant to my constituents, hence the answers I have crafted for you here

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

    Yes, however my goal would be at 25 basis points below inflation, because under David Miller the budget increases exceeded inflation.

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

    I would search for duplication in the system and end duplication. Line by line review of the budget, zero based budgeting, look for private public partnerships. We can do better purchasing between the City and its agencies and boards.  It will be easier to find savings once one is in power.

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

    YES. To 22 councilors plus the Mayor.  Yes it would allow for better and efficient decision making.    It would save money

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

    Yes, provided it gives the tax payer a better deal.

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

    I would phase it out by raising the limit where it becomes payable.  We can increase the lower limit by $100,000 per year for 5 years and then review it.  This would eliminate the tax on the majority of house purchases in Toronto.

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

    Built subways which creates good paying long term direct jobs.  Which in turn brings construction jobs to those areas where the subways would be built.  We have to build a Convention Centre which would bring good paying construction jobs and hospitality jobs.  I would vote in favor of the expansion of Billy Bishop Airport allowing for more business and tourists to come to Toronto.  I would redevelop Toronto Community Housing which would also create construction jobs, provide better housing and reduced repairs to those living in TCHC.  This would save money in the long run.  We should provide local business with incentives to hiring our youth.

    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?

    Talk is cheap, we have to get on with building subways, if we built 1km per year starting 30 years ago, we would have had a better transit system.  I would encourage public private partnerships, naming rights to subway stations, we could sell off air rights over subway stations.  Development over subways would increase development charges and realty taxes.  This would provide for more people using subways as opposed to roads because it would be easy to go from home to work on the subway.  We should avoid another St. Clair Avenue disaster, cost overruns, congestion, unsightly ride of ways.

    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?

    Open up a bidding process to allow everyone to bid including efficient organizations such as LIANA which are currently excluded from bidding on City jobs.  We have to tell the City Unions that we have to hold the line on increases because the City is stretched financially.  Let the Unions see the books and let them propose ideas as well.   Work as a partnership, obviously we can’t spend what we don’t have.  Make them part of the process.

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

    Yes in public transit, TCHC, infrastructure such as water works.  P3s could also include union pension funds and the unions themselves.

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

    Representation, there is no leadership, hundreds of residents suffered sewer backup up and the local councillor could have applied for relief funds from the Provincial government which she did not.    We don’t have infrastructure that should have been place years ago.  The area is now considered a priority neighbourhood, it should have been if investment (tax dollars) were invested in the community.  Missed opportunities such as Downsview Park where the current councillor allowed density in Stanley Green to more than double.  I would work with the community to avoid the poor re-development that the current councillor allowed without community involvement on Wilson Avenue.  We have to have smart development with consultation with the community instead of behind closed doors.

    Crime is an issued, we need more police presence.

    I would stand up for our community insisting that funds are invested in our community.  I would work with other levels of government to try to bring jobs to our area.

    I am going to be a strong advocate for Downsview by working with the Mayor, other levels of government and council to make sure that our area gets the funds and attention that it deserves including improving infrastructure.

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

    Yes, I support a property tax cap. This will give homeowners some control of their expenses while encouraging new business investments.

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

    Finding savings in our city budget is first cutting unnecessary spending at City Hall and looking for efficiencys within the budget.

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

    I do not support reducing council. I would rather endorse councillor term limitations. Most would agree that a city councillor is a great public service work and shouldn’t be a lifetime career. We need new councillors with fresh ideas and outlooks to solutions effecting ward residents and Toronto as a whole.

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

    I will support contracting out garbage collection east of Yonge. This was a great success west of Yonge. It is cost effective and saving taxpayers money is what makes the most sense for me.

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

    I will advocate in eliminating the Land Transfer Tax which is and has been unfair to Toronto home buyers. Of course we will have to find revenue to replace this tax.

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

    Thousands of jobs can be created in Toronto with the support for more foreign investments, the reduction of red tape and equal property tax on local businesses.

    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 Scarborough subway has my support however, Torontorians have demanded for better transportation service for a long time and want it now. LRTs has shown for greater efficiency and reliability in cutting a substantial amount of commute time connecting routes, esspecially to and from the downtown core and Pearson International Airport. They require less time to built, has a lower budget ( saving tax payers more) and better service. This will serve best for our local buisnesses when it comes to advertising and will create thousands of jobs in Toronto. With better transportation, Toronto will gain recognition as a world class transit city.

    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?

    Along with Council staff I will encourage negotiations deals that are fair to all workers, cost effective and fair to the citizens of Toronto.

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

    Did not provide answer.

    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 many issues effecting my ward at this time like youth unemployment, senior services, affordable programs for our children and regular area maintenance. However, the top issue right now is Downsview Park. Many in the community would rather keep Downsview park green while some residents would like to see something done with part of our open Green space. With me as your City Councillor I will stand for an equailibrium of our Green space. I believe a balanced plan including some development would be a great investment for our community; while still keeping most of our park Green.

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

    I do support a property tax cap at no greater than the rate of inflation.  There are many families trying to make ends meet.  There is a growing senior population and many rely on a single pension to get by.

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

    We have to be careful in how we find savings in the current city budget.  If you take away too much, some services will suffer and or diminish.  Some savings can be found by reducing the size of City Council.  Privatizing garbage collection east of Yonge will bring additional savings.  Also, new labour negotiations should result in savings as well.

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

    I do believe in reducing the size of Toronto City Council.  There are too many Councillors and making decisions is taking too much time.  We need a lean and efficient Council that will get down to business for the good of Toronto.

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

    I do support contracting out garbage collection east of Yonge Street.  I live west of Yonge Street and am happy with contracting out garbage.  There have been some hiccups, but overall the service is good.  We don’t have to worry about garbage strikes!

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

    I believe the Municipal Land Transfer Tax is a revenue source that the City needs.  I do believe it is too high at this point.  I support modifying the tax and reducing it.

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

    My platform talks about working with small business to create jobs for our youth.  After all, small business is the backbone of our economy.  When our youth have jobs, they earn money that can further their education and one day buy a home.

    Furthermore, if we can stop the bickering at City Hall and get a transit plan approved, whether subways or LRTs, will create jobs for the next two decade.  Better transportation and less congestion will bring in more investment into the City, which will create 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?

    I believe we can fund new transit projects by asking for money from both the Federal and Provincial Governments.  Toronto is the economic engine of Canada and we deserve to get these funds.  Some money can also come from a reformed land transfer tax as well as from development charges.

    The current transit planning process has not worked.  We continue wasting time with all the bickering at City Hall.  What we need is a new position that will head this process.  This position will oversee the transit planning process and report back to City Council.

    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 advice I would give the city’s negotiating team is to be transparent and fair.  The bottom line is that in the end, you want both sides to be happy.  We need to work together to eliminate road blocks and make the process more efficient.

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

    I believe there are opportunities for public-private partnerships.  In many cases, the private sector offers more expertise and efficiencies.  P3s can be utilized for infrastructure projects such as roads and sewers, transit systems, and building affordable housing.

    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 many issues affecting Ward 9 and they are all equally important.  I would say that our infrastructure, specifically sewer capacity, needs to be upgraded.  I hear over and over again from my constituents about how their basements have flooded, or backyards damaged from water flow, resulting in an increase in their home insurance rates.  Some homeowners can’t even get flood insurance.

    The new Humber River Regional Hospital, proposed residential development at Downsview Park, as well as other high density projects in Ward 9 will put severe pressure on our infrastructure.

    As Councillor, I will work with City Planners and Developers to ensure sewers are upgraded before future residential growth is approved.  We cannot allow growth without improving our aging infrastructure.  I propose that development charges be increased to help fund the upgrades.

    Lastly, I will visit with homeowners and listen to their concerns regarding flooding.  We need to prioritize high risk areas and devote the appropriate resources to address these problems.