Dear DECA:

 

Firstly, thank you for the opportunity to forward answers to your group’s specific questions. I will do my very best to answer your group’s questions and concerns in the capacity for which I hope to represent Ward 19 Beaches – East York and to all stakeholders who may be involved. The unabridged version is available on my blog. I’m sorry for the delay but I have been quite ill with a respiratory virus. Thanks for your understanding.

 

Brenda MacDonald

 

Brenda MacDonald

 

1. What makes you the best person to represent the Danforth East area?

 

What makes me the best person to represent Ward 19 Beaches – East York is that I am non-partisan, (not a member of any political party) or of any neighbourhood groups or associations in or outside the city of Toronto. I also do not work for the city of Toronto in any capacity or department either as a planner or developer, or otherwise. I have chosen to take an approved unpaid leave of absence from my employer to run for City Council in ward 19. I am also not a career politician and have advocated for term limits to be instated. In that regard I am better able to stay focused and in touch with all the constituents, community groups, churches and organizations without bias, political and/or corporate affiliation (ie; Progress Toronto, Conservative, Liberal, Green or NDP) and have no aspirations to run for those parties at a Provincial or Federal level. City Council is not a stepping stone for me. It is incumbent upon those who take up the charge to serve constituents only. It is paramount that city council ensure to remain unbiased in service.

 

As an independent non-partisan candidate, I am better able to identify the specific needs and concerns of individual constituents, groups and all stakeholders involved with the city of Toronto. As well, I have no intention or design to affect development in any way other than to ensure that the projects remain ‘in keeping’ with the neighbourhoods, follow current and strict building codes and that constituents are kept ‘in the loop’. Taxpayers and constituents need to be made fully aware of upcoming development changes to our shared ward.

 

Through 25 years of working directly in the community with families and within school communities as an educator (music/special education) and in building facilities across ward 19, I have an excellent understanding of community safety, support and the direct impact or lack of city services and needs in Beaches – East York. In addition, this is my 3rd time running for City Council in the former wards 31, 35 and now 19 and I have witnessed, experienced and remained knowledgeable about the impact of infrastructure changes, affordable housing and transit shortfalls, as well as, development across Toronto and in our shared ward. I have also bared witness to the incredible poverty throughout some of our most critically underfunded schools, Toronto Community Housing units, churches and communities to know what city services need to be nurtured, supported and created to tackle the inequities.

 

I am also an advocate for responsible development in Beaches – East York and have deposed many times against development proposals that are not in keeping with adjacent neighbourhoods. Some of the development will result in over-intensification of our water (and waste-water management) infrastructure and transit/transportation needs. I will advocate for better standards to ensure we have clean air and drinking water for generations to come for all our watersheds in our shared wards and Lake Ontario.

 

I chose to run for ward 19 for constituents; to lend a voice to those who may live here but may not have the right to vote, but whose voices need to be heard. I run for those who have been killed or injured from pedestrian and cycling incidents in our school zones, and on our streets and sidewalks. I run for those victims of violence. 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.

 

2. What do you think is the most pressing issue for this area, and what is your plan to address it?

 

The most pressing issue for Ward 19 Beaches – East York is the uncoordinated communication currently not being provided to all constituents from our City Council. My intention is to bring the entire ward from Sunrise Avenue to Lake Ontario and Victoria Park to Coxwell Avenue, together working as a unified ward in City Hall.

 

In addition, I think the most pressing issues for Ward 19 Beaches – East York include our transit and transportation shortfalls across the G.T.H.A., and the chronic housing shortages of ‘reasonable’ affordable housing. As Toronto is a major economic hub of the Province, our transit needs to be more affordable, safe and reliable. Chronic underfunding by Provincial and Federal Governments have caused our transit to be over-crowded and unsafe. Although measures have been upgraded and rebuilt (to be more accessible) at Coxwell, Main, Woodbine and Victoria Park Station(s), our TTC streetcars and busing have been underserving ridership across Toronto for decades. With further intensification along Main and Danforth, Victoria Park and Danforth, Woodbine and Danforth, Kingston Road and Queen Street East, our transit and transportation is just not keeping up. The proposed Downtown relief line is a long time coming and I will tirelessly advocate for more transit options and alternatives of transportation for constituents such short term express bus services while they’re building the line. I would not stand in the way of approved mass transit projects that have already been decided upon and voted for by City Council. Toronto cannot afford to wait any longer for transportation solutions.

 

3. Who do you support for mayor, and why?

 

I am personally in support of our current Mayor, John Tory. I believe that he will be able to deliver on many of the agreed upon council plans and continue to serve constituents fairly. I also believe that Mayor John Tory will have more success procuring much needed funds for transit, affordable housing and modernized Policing models in line with the current Premier of Ontario. I am concerned by any Mayoral candidates (or running city councillors) aligned with ProgressToronto.ca or OntarioProud. Our Mayor and councillors should represent constituents – not partisan agendas of affiliate organizations associated with Progress America. I chose to serve the constituents of Toronto.

 

4. DECA took the position that changing the ward boundaries during the election was undemocratic. What do you think about that?

 

I think it’s fair to say that the Premier of Ontario should not have downsized the ward boundaries and certainly not in the manner and timing that he did. There are many constituents on both sides of the fence but most are in agreement that the boundary changes should have occurred for the next election period. There are also many constituents who feel that “less is more” and a smaller city council would better serve taxpayers in Toronto.

 

As I was one of only a few candidates running in ward 19 to wait to canvass etc… in the full ward until after all decisions were completed, I feel this created less confusion but of course puts many of us behind in the running. I am confident that voters will recognize our respect for waiting and understand that we did not wish to confuse constituents nor overstep our boundaries during the many changes.

 

5. We expect that our area will see a lot of development in the next four years. What do you think about that?

 

Development toward more affordable housing is a real bonus for Toronto and ward 19 is getting a great deal of density along the main avenues and streets of Danforth Avenue, Kingston Road, St. Clair Avenue, Queen Street East, Coxwell Avenue and Main and Danforth (especially). Some of this development has been in-keeping with adjacent neighbourhoods. Others, however, only serve to over-intensify our already burdened water infrastructure, over-crowded schools, under-funded city services and transit. I am in favour however, of development such as Sugar condos that has proposed to incorporate a school on the main level of the build.

 

Projects such as the merged Police Service Stations of 55/54 divisions, to the proposed Coxwell/Danforth (Danforth/Garage) site should have included all constituents in ward 19. All development plans and processes should include far more input from individual constituents and those across the ward. Our city council has not informed us openly and has not engaged the entire ward of upcoming planning meetings and proposals. It would seem that ‘over-reaching’ associations, groups, (non-profit Canadian and American organizations) and local BIA’s appear to have more say than the constituents who live adjacent and around these sites. It is the constituents of ward 19 that will be directly impacted by Toronto Police Services merging, therefore everyone in the ward should have more say. Ultimately, what we develop here in Beaches – East York impacts all of Toronto and our shared city services.

 

6. How will you contribute to a more diverse and representative Council?

 

My contribution to a more diverse and representative council will be my willingness to support gender equality standards at City Hall. For over 25 years I have worked in special education in both community living and for our local school board. I will represent all people regardless of age, gender, abilities, race, religions, sexual orientation and immigration status in ward 19 and across Toronto.

 

I chose to run for ward 19 for constituents; to lend a voice to those who may live here but may not have the right to vote, but whose voices need to be heard. I run for those who have been killed or injured from pedestrian and cycling incidents in our school zones, and on our streets and sidewalks. I run for those victims of violence. 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.

 

Contact:
Brenda MacDonald
Web site: www.brendamacdonaldward19.com
Email: brendamacdonald2010@gmail.com
Phone: 647-336-9835
Twitter: @anduandi
Facebook: @Brenda MacDonald Ward 19

 

Images: 1st image by Photography Victoria Dixon
Images: 2nd image by Adele MacNeill