Beach councillor faces hot issues in election year
(Written June 11 for Town Crier.)
Beaches-East York Councillor Sandra Bussin has come under fire lately over a series of hot button issues in her Ward 32.
There’s the firestorm over 204 Beech Avenue, where the owners bought the property with the intention to tear it down and build an accessible home only to find out it is a candidate for heritage protection.
Bussin got caught up in heated meeting on that issue. A clip depicting her as unsympathetic to the owners subsequently ended up on video streaming site YouTube, and made the rounds via Twitter.
And there’s the controversial 20-year, sole-source contract that awards a lease extension to Tuggs owner George Foulidis for his Boardwalk Café at Ashbridges Bay. Some feel Foulidis got too sweet a deal.
Though she removed herself from any city staff discussions surrounding the Boardwalk Café in 2009, Bussin was a vocal supporter of the sole-source contract for Foulidis back in 2006.
And this is now an election year.
“I am a strong person. I represent this community with integrity,” she told the Town Crier referring in to the criticism she is facing lately.
But several Ward 32 council candidates and local activists are nipping at her heels.
Bruce Baker is one of the candidates running against her who has been part of the criticism of her on both of these issues.
“I get the impression (Baker) is out there canvassing in a derogatory way,” she said during a break at city council June 9. “If he wants to conduct himself in that way, I think it won’t be effective. I have confidence residents in the riding will not receive that kind of behaviour well.”
According to Bussin, Baker showed up to a local meeting on matters about other ward issues and, along with others from Scarborough, Mississauga and downtown Toronto, “hijacked” the local meeting to talk about the 204 Beech issue. After 90 minutes of answering questions, she shut the meeting down, she said.
At city hall moments after the vote not to re-open the Tuggs deal, Baker said constituents should be critical of Bussin’s ward decisions.
“Sandra Bussin is going to have to stand on her record,” he said June 9. “And over the last year she has displayed her record as not very good.”
While she is facing criticism in the media and among some of her opponents, she said others are coming to her defense.
“One person ran out of the meeting and apologized for even participating,” she said. “Another appeared at the Environment Day I held and was concerned about the conduct of those at that meeting.”
Beach activist and former Bussin election opponent Chris Yaccato has also been a vocal critic on these issues and of Bussin’s involvement in them.
Yaccato expressed disappointment after city council decided not to re-open the Tuggs Boardwalk Café issue.
“The public was quite upset (about Tuggs),” said Yaccato. “A lot of people commented to me we were on the right track trying to get this re-opened and getting a fair bid down there.”
Bussin did not immediately reply to follow-up calls regarding the Tuggs deal and potential political fallout.
Yaccato said the Tuggs issue has divided Ward 32 constituents.
“(Bussin) split the public quite rapidly and I am sure there is a lot of animosity. I don’t know what will happen (with her re-election),” he said.
Bussin has a different take.
“My support is not affected by the antics of these individuals,” she said referring to Yaccato and Baker.