New Beaches-East York councillor looks to expanded role for community council

'Perhaps some things don’t even need to go to city council,' says Brad Bradford

The new councillor for Beaches-East York thinks that working with a smaller council in a larger ward could enhance local democracy.

“In my view it’s an opportunity to have more citizens involved on boards… and actually, an expanded role of community council,” said Brad Bradford.

Councillors are waiting for a report from city staff before the first council session, outlining the restructuring of committees and community councils.

“My hope is that community council can have more autonomy over local decisions. Perhaps some things don’t even need to go to city council; we can take care of them at the community-council level.”

The new double-sized Ward 19 merges two wards, north and south of the Danforth. The southern part of the new ward is home to many well-heeled property owners; the northern part is more mixed and has a higher proportion of renters and new Canadians.

Former councillor Janet Davis found rental affordability to be the greatest concern among residents in the northern part, while Bradford told The Observer that road safety was the issue most people brought up during his campaign, which started in the old southern ward.

One issue that literally cuts through the new ward is the Woodbine bike lane. Bike lanes in general, and the Woodbine one in particular, have raised cheers and ire among different residents. Bradford would like to see safety-related changes to the Woodbine bike lane but doesn’t think the issue should be controversial.

“I don’t think that support for road safety is divided; in fact, that is the number one issue I heard about at the door, was making our streets safer.”

Comparing citywide with local concerns, Bradford sees “two levels of the canvas,” citing “transit, affordability and housing” as the three biggest issues across Toronto. “I actually see all three of them as being completely synced together.”

Back in Ward 19, “That’s where we’re talking about road safety; revitalizing our main streets and supporting local businesses,” he said. Queen East, as well as Danforth, and streets like Pape all have stretches of empty, sometimes dilapidated storefronts.

If community councils can provide an effective neighbourhood governance, the next race to watch could be which of these community councils can run local affairs, with or without direct involvement from City Hall.

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Posted: Nov 7 2018 12:58 pm
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