First plank in Smitherman’s policy platform unveiled
By Kris Scheuer
(Written for Town Crier, May 27. UPDATE here.)
George Smitherman, the perceived frontrunner in the mayoral race, will be starting to unveil his campaign platform tomorrow starting with an expansive transportation plan.
At an editorial board meeting at the Town Crier offices the afternoon of May 27, Smitherman gave insight into his three-pronged platform, which will also include a detailed roadmap emphasizing jobs, community development and a focus on the city’s core services.
Details on how he’d focus on core services will come later in his campaign, but did speak specifically about recreation and parks. “Toronto has 1,400 parks. And I think too many of them have been forgotten. Some of them are very ratty,” he said, adding that there’s too much bureaucracy stopping communities from using the parks for bake ovens and other local initiatives.
Smitherman also says he’ll work to resolve the ice rink shortage the city experiences each winter.
“The city hasn’t built any (new ice rinks) in 20-25 years. In my policy as it comes forward you’ll see a strong focus on enhancement to our recreational infrastructure,” he said.
He said the redevelopment of Don Mills could have included a new ice rink had the city worked better with the private sector. He also took the city to task for not making good use of its existing resources including a co-op near Dundas and Jarvis Streets that has a city-owned arena size space that could be used for recreational ice skating but currently stands mostly unused.
On the issue of city finances, he said Toronto has a spending problem not a revenue problem. He rhymed off the fact the city has access to gas taxes from the province and federal governments, high residential property taxes, new user fees and millions in land transfer, vehicle registration and billboard taxes.
Smitherman lauded current Mayor David Miller for his environmental focus and said that if elected he would be a green mayor. However, Smitherman is looking towards green’s money making potential as well.
“What I am most interested in is finding the economic miracle in greening,” said the former minister of energy and infrastructure and self-described father of the Green Energy Act.
While some see Smitherman as the frontrunner he rejects the moniker.
“I have the heart of the underdog. From my start as my life in Etobicoke as a young boy with a family with a grade 6 educated father who worked his ass off,” he said. “The instincts that are sewn in me is to be never be outworked.”
He plans to move from talk to action, if elected, by working with all councillors.
“Some call me left wing. Some call me right wing. I think I am pretty centrist,” he said. “I am in a better position to be able to reach and form consensus across the range of council.
“One of the dangers we have in Toronto is associated with the culture that creates a situation where one third of the council are on the outside looking in,” he said.
Do you like Smitherman for mayor or is someone else peaking your interest?