I have been asked by Leaside Life to provide a perspective on the upcoming provincial election as it pertains to being your city councillor.
Under normal circumstances I work on remarkably few issues with either of my elected counterparts at the provincial and federal levels. However, the need for increased traffic enforcement, the construction of the Crosstown LRT, and the high level of development in Leaside make our circumstances less than normal. The election has potential ramifications for these three key issues facing Leaside.
Full disclosure: I like being able to call our MPP, the Premier, about our shared local concerns. She is responsive and I enjoy working with her.
First, given the need to reduce the police budget and the dearth of traffic enforcement citywide, I have been a vocal supporter of technology-based solutions such as photo radar. I was disappointed when the City received a letter from the provincial government in 2015 indicating that they would not consider allowing this tool for use by municipalities. Of course, as many of you know, the province changed its mind last year. Full credit to the Premier for this change in policy. I believe that short of having the Premier on board, this change in the government’s position would not have happened. Given the party structure of provincial politics, simply the support of one’s local MPP is rarely enough. With the need for other initiatives such as stop sign cameras, there is still work to be done.
Second, it is not an exaggeration to say that much of Leaside has suffered during the last three years of LRT construction and there are four more years until completion. Retrofitting a city is never easy and unfortunately, the pain is borne disproportionately by those closest to Eglinton Ave. Given that this is a fully funded provincial project, I have often called on the Premier to help address residents’ concerns. On every occasion she has ensured that Metrolinx exhausts every possibility to mitigate the ill effects of construction.
The last major shared area of concern is the massive amount of development planned along Eglinton Ave., which could result in up to 10,000 new Leaside residents and another 10,000 nearby residents. This huge increase in density is largely a result of the 2017 Provincial Growth Plan, which calls for more than 12,000 people and/or jobs within a 500-metre radius of a higher order transit station. With two stations in Leaside and one at Don Mills, the problem is clear. Most of us believe this significant increase in density will have a negative impact on Leaside. If there is a change in government, would or could an MPP from a different party make changes to these plans?
I believe that on balance, having the Premier as our MPP has been advantageous for Leaside. However, if the Liberals don’t form the next government, I’m not sure how much impact a regular MPP from any party will have on the aforementioned issues.