A long-time Junction resident says that there is no ward in Toronto that ignores a community’s wishes more than her own.
The final all-candidates meeting for Ward 18 (Davenport) was held in the Church of the Firstborn, last night. The overriding issue raised during the debate appeared to be the need for more attention to Junction residents’ concerns.
Resident Leila Slack was happy that her ward’s incumbent, Adam Giambrone, is moving on because she said it’s time for change.
“It seems like the people running this time around actually get it,” she said. “It only took a few years for local politicians to see that we’re not being served, but better late than never.”
The meeting addressed issues such as fine collection, development for new families and greener solutions for the trains that run through the neighbourhood. The candidates also discussed the way they would try to be more connected to Davenport residents.
Candidate Ana Bailao told residents that disagreements between a community and it’s councillor happen, but it’s the way a councillor chooses to deal with it that matters.
“I don’t believe that we should divide; there’s no winners or losers,” Bailao said. “We have to come to the table and work together and reach that decision in a collaborative way.”
While, candidates Frank de Jong and Joe MacDonald both agreed that a councillor’s job is to represent his ward, they also believed that doing what feels right for the community is necessary.
“From time to time a councillor has to take a stand (and) say, ‘I’m sorry, I believe we need to go in this direction,’” MacDonald said. “Having the guts and the experience to make that choice is important and that’s leadership.”
Candidate Hema Vyas believe that creating more time for councillors to meet with the community would keep everyone involved. She suggested that lunch and evening meetings combined with online postings would give residents options for gathering information.
Slack, who works until the late evening, said local politics don’t run when she has the free time.
“These councillors do a nine-to-five thing, like me and by the time I’m able to speak, they’ve gone home,” she said. “A municipal (web) site just for my ward and my councillor seems to be the only way I could participate when I want to, but right now there’s nothing.”
She went on to say that the only time a councillor meets the community outside of business hours is when there’s an election.
“If it weren’t time to vote, I don’t think any politician, hopeful or already elected would be here right now,” Slack said. “Until that changes, this community never will.”