Paula Fletcher is ready to take on the new Toronto-Danforth, but first she’s going to need more staff.
With a bigger ward comes more East Yorkers to serve. Fletcher says staffing needs will be one of her team’s top priorities come December when she takes over as city councillor for Ward 14.
Without more staff, getting things done to benefit constituents will be more difficult, she said.
For the past 15 years, Fletcher was city councillor for what was known as Ward 30, Toronto-Danforth, covering the area south of Danforth Avenue, including Riverdale and part of the lakefront. Now she represents all of the new Ward 14, which adds much of East York north of Danforth, since Premier Doug Ford reduced the size of city council.
She defeated fellow East York incumbent Mary Fragedakis, who represented the old Ward 29, in the election, winning 42 per cent of the vote.
Fletcher said it’s unfortunate she and Fragedakis will no longer be working together as councillors and friends, as they have for so many years.
Despite the challenge of serving more citizens with fewer resources, Fletcher is committed to advocating for the causes that matter most to the East York community, she said.
Affordable housing is one issue she plans to keep fighting for until it’s solved.
“There is a huge problem right now with ‘reno-victions,’ where landlords evict their tenants to remodel homes,” she said. “Families and seniors in the east end are panicking that they might lose their homes or get priced out of the market.”
Fletcher is working to address the issue by supporting a new development of rental units on Queen Street in the Beaches. As well, she will continue to oppose rezoning that will put East Yorkers at risk of being priced out of the market.
Other issues Fletcher says she is addressing are creating more child-care spaces through the Danforth Garage project, a planned community hub, and supporting the development of a large park along the Don River.
Fletcher can often be found in the community enjoying a cup of coffee at Broadview Espresso or sampling a vegetarian treat at Mon K patisserie.
“East York has a wonderful small town feel in the midst of a big city,” she said. “It’s diverse and the people here are proud of where they live.
“I’ve proudly represented East York before and I’ve always championed its separateness throughout the years. I plan on continuing that this time around.”
Story back as trustee
Also re-elected in Toronto-Danforth was TDSB trustee Jennifer Story. Story’s Toronto-Danforth is now known as Ward 15.
Story ran with Fletcher in the election and won her ward with 80 per cent of the vote in her ward.
“I was interested in running with Paula because we both take the same approach to the job,” Story said. “The needs of the local community is what drives our work.”
Like Fletcher, creating more access to child care in Toronto-Danforth is a priority for Story. She said she has already worked on creating an extended child-care program that is run by the TDSB that offers before and after school care.
She is also a supporter of the sex-ed curriculum that was removed by Premier Doug Ford. Story and Fletcher attended the walk-out protests staged by East York students in October.
“As trustee, I will take a stand for the curriculum our kids need,” Story said. “I’ve also heard from concerned parents that they want the new curriculum.
“I’m a parent, too. I have two kids in the TDSB. I want parents to feel like they’re part of the system, not outside of it,” she said. “I’m always available if they want to share their concerns with me over coffee.”