Brenda MacDonald

Know Your Vote:

1. If elected what would be your top priority as a City Councillor? Why?

If elected as City Councillor my top priority would be to listen to constituents and establish the most effective communication tools to move Beaches – East York together as a ward from Sunrise Avenue south to Lake Ontario, and Victoria Park Avenue west to Coxwell Avenue. To work with residents, community groups, businesses, churches, commerce, artists and city council to keep our parks and streets clean, beautiful, active and safe. To help make our city services better and more responsive. To enhance the revitalization of Danforth Avenue, Queen Street East, Kingston Road, St. Clair Avenue, O’Connor Drive and our main streets (including arterial roadways used by emergency services) to create vibrant, commercial business areas mixed with art and culture. To continue the upgrades to sewer infrastructure in order to help mitigate wet weather flow management in Beaches – East York. To see the proposed 55/54 Toronto Police Service facilities merge into Danforth/Garage enabling a more modern Neighbourhood Officer policing model to support our community policing needs. To restore the Beaches – East York portion of Taylor Massey Creek (and Park) in conjunction with the entire creek watershed leading to the Don River and working with all ward councillors and groups of that watershed. To help protect Lake Ontario and preserve our drinking water for generations to come. I have chosen to run for constituents; and to lend a voice to those who may live here but may not have the right to vote; those voices need to be heard as well. I run for those who have died or been injured from pedestrian and cycling incidents in our school zones, and on our streets and sidewalks. I run for those who have been killed or are victims of gun and gang violence on our streets and sidewalks. I run for those who may not share my own beliefs but have the right to a fair and unbiased representation in City Hall. I run to represent those who are most in need and at risk in our community.

What local issues in your ward deserve more attention? Why?

Local issues in Ward 19, include many: “a rat problem” in residential and business properties along the subway line, major construction sites and surrounding areas; parking issues; no affordable housing available; shortfalls in transit (no room on the subways, buses and continuous short turns by streetcars); businesses struggling and storefronts sitting empty along major transit corridors (under possible land assembly); unsafe and incomplete bike lanes; concern over inappropriate development (with very little public input); and most importantly fear over the increase in guns and gang violence in our parks, streets and sidewalks. In addition, increases in crimes of theft in cars, homes and businesses coupled with the evidence of an opioid crisis on our streets, means that City Council has a great deal of work to do to alleviate and find solutions to these problems, as soon as, possible. Some of these problems will need to be uploaded to Provincial and Federal jurisdictions.

What should the next City Council do about housing in Toronto? Why?

One of the biggest things impacting young adults, families and seniors has been the very high cost of housing in Toronto and now the surrounding G.T.H.A. (Greater Toronto Hamilton Area). City Council needs to work together in all wards of Toronto, and all levels of Government to create a new housing stock, as well as, community housing units. I am willing to work with City Council, the Provincial and Federal Governments to remove more than 87,774 (2016) households in Toronto who are categorized as needing housing from housing waitlists. Real and tangible measures are needed to reduce chronic homelessness in our city. We must begin to repair and renew over 120,000 existing housing units, and some 1,200 high rise community towers in backlog of immediate repair. The aging stock and cheaply-built condo boom that occurred over the past 3 terms of City Council needs consideration for the amount and cost of repair and upkeep these buildings will require over the next 20 to 30 years. As some of these condos become rundown and abandoned and in some cases become rental properties, this may have an impact on property taxes and those costs may become the responsibility of the City of Toronto. Inclusive zoning is required to ensure developers implement more affordable housing stock in their buildings. Consideration should also be made to enable more creative housing strategies such as laneway housing but only where city services (such as snow removal, emergency service vehicles and waste management) can be provided and delivered safely. I am never in favour of selling City Parks (through section 37 deals) or City Land Assets to build housing. I am in favour of considerations such as the Sugar condo proposal designs that have integrated a school into the buildings main floor of the facility.

What should the next City Councillor do about transportation and how we get around Toronto? Why?

Transportation infrastructure is shared travel way both financially and physically, and as such should be created, built and re-built to provide safe passage way for all. I am committed to supporting the building of a relief line, more (non-short-turned) streetcars along Queen and Bingham loop, improve express bus service on Victoria Park, and a Main Station to the Danforth Go station service improvement. As more options need to be offered to Torontonian’s in order to travel safely, complete bike lanes and in certain corridors (protected bike lanes) are necessary. Our streets and sidewalks need to be clear (unobstructed), safe and useable for all to travel.

Should the next City Council change anything about municipal taxes or city services? Why?

Rate increases of municipal taxes should be no more than inflation. Many contracts with union and non-union workers, city services such as Toronto Police Services, Fire, EMS, Waste Management, Recycling, Toronto Water, and city services are coming and tough decisions will need to be made to ensure Toronto stays on budget while meeting the needs of constituents. Responsible financial governance is necessary to improve budget compliance and ensure city services are delivered efficiently. Many residents have voiced a want to allow for a very small property tax increase to meet more city services for youth and seniors. However, Constituents who own businesses in Beaches – East York (and other areas of the city) have expressed their taxes are way too high. Many of these small businesses are being reassessed and taxed at levels making it unprofitable to open their doors. The City of Toronto should work to provide tax and rental incentives, as well as, to make viable businesses a reality along our main streets.