Toronto-Centre hopefuls weight in
Balancing development with protection of neighbourhoods
(Written for Town Crier Oct. 14)
How will you protect the local character of neighbourhoods while balancing the need for revitalization and development in Ward 30?
Liz West‘s answer: It’s not enough to fight against development and just say no. Defeating a residential and commercial project on Eastern (Avenue) only to have it replaced with car dealerships as of right while pretending to protect the film studios, did not serve the community well. I believe Ward 30 residents need to understand fully the choices they face so that they can make informed decisions on what is best for the community. I plan to lead those discussions, especially around the developments proposed for the Pan Am games, continued candidate West. These games provide an opportunity to clean up the contaminated Port Lands while creating a balanced development of recreational, reside ntial and commercial spaces that can be showcased to the world.
Paula Fletcher‘s answer: As the current councillor I worked with the community to stop the Big Box on Eastern Avenue. The film industry did not want it as it would jeopardize the future of film; the neighbourhood not want seven million car trips annually through neighbourhood streets and all of the small, family owned businesses on Queen Street, from Leslieville to the Beach, did not want to have their sector decimated.
The OMB upheld the position that Big Box retail would undermine the future of the current employers in this employment area, added Fletcher. Ward 30 is a very desirable are of the city and the challenge for planning and city council will be to ensure appropriate development scale as more developers want to build in Ward 30.
Mark Dewdney: My answer will focus a lot on Little India. I don’t know if you have been down there recently but there are multiple vacant storefronts. We have merchants who refuse to join a (Business Improvement Area) because of internal politics. The BIAs have to be co-operative, inclusive and have to work with all merchants on all their concerns.
Parking is a huge one. We all know about bike lanes, people are concerned about that. I don’t support bike lanes on The Danforth unless it is separated from traffic and does not mess with the merchants. You can’t interfere with that, it’s their livelihood.
Angie Tingas’s answer: Part of the ward such as Queen Street is older than some parts. If we historically designate part of the ward, (it would help). The Danforth has already changed so much. Storefronts don’t look the same as 60-70 years ago.
Should Leslieville have five, six, seven-storey condos? Maybe, maybe not. It depends on what we provide citizens (in return). If it could beautify the roads it could be good. We are downtown and people want to live downtown as opposed to Scarborough or North York. The ward population is declining. (The city) passed a harmonized bylaw a few weeks ago. I don’t think people realize (implications of) what was passed. Now if you want to renovate a building on a main streets and start to build the foundation, you have to build (a minimum) of three storeys across the city. For example, on main streets like Queen or Danforth. There should be BIAs on all larger streets to keep areas as beautiful as possible.
Mihaly Varga said: I envision that the whole Port Land area would become a public parkland area with recreational facilities, sport facilities and beautiful chain of treed and natural parks beautified with arts. It includes small business, small services, small retailers and small art houses with galleries. Everything would be in small scale, family type. Lake shore sport activities would be extended to include general public interests. I am very much against any huge developments, any mass concrete coverings there (car parks, roads, or more paving) and any mass manufacturing or retail. I love the area’s remoteness, the feel of the history, the seclusion and would very much like to preserve it for future generations as well, said Varga.
Andrew James announced he’s stepping aside and endorsing candidate Liz West. Andreas Bogojevic told the Town Crier he is dropping out of the race and endorsing candidate Mark Dewdney. Gary Walsh did not respond to email and phone requests for an interview.