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FORUM: Why I’m running for re-election (Summer 2018)

August 12th, 2018 · No Comments

Building a more livable and caring city

By Joe Cressy

It’s been four years since I was first elected to represent Trinity-Spadina on Toronto City Council. It has been both an exhilarating and, at times, exhausting experience. I’ve loved every minute of it.

Our ward is a truly diverse and vibrant collection of neighbourhoods: the central Waterfront and the Entertainment District, vertical neighbourhoods like CityPlace and the historic Grange neighbourhood, Queen West and Kensington Market, Chinatown and the University of Toronto, Huron-Sussex and Harbord Village, and of course the neighbourhood I was raised in, the Annex. In so many ways, our downtown community reflects the very best of our city.

In so many ways our beloved City of Toronto is doing well, exceptionally well. Amidst the strife and rhetoric regarding immigration south of the border and in parts of Europe, Toronto has become a model for how we all live together. As global talent and jobs move across borders, Toronto has become a tech and creative economy destination with the Googles, Amazons, and Thompson-Reuters of the world looking to us. And, you only have to look up at the cranes in the sky to see first-hand the nearly decade long (and continuing) demand for growth in our city.

In so many ways, Toronto is becoming a welcoming, intelligent, and smart twenty-first-century city. This is no small measure and we should be proud of it.

However, as our city sprints forward, far too many people are being left behind. According to the United Way, Toronto is now the inequality capital of Canada with 25 per cent of adults and 29 per cent of children living in poverty. More than 181,000 people are on the waiting list for affordable housing, and that list is growing every year. And even for those doing well, buying a home (let alone renting one) is becoming less affordable every day. These facts are simply unacceptable in a city as wealthy as ours.

I was brought up in a household where I was taught that we should measure ourselves, and our society, by how well we treat others. Sadly, on this metric, as a city we are letting people down.

I believe deeply that the role of our civic government is to make our city more livable for those fortunate enough to be doing well, and to provide the infrastructure and supports to care for those who are struggling. This is why I am running for re-election, to build a more livable and caring city.

On both fronts there is so much more that we can do. As downtown continues to grow in height and density, we must ensure that we are building the social infrastructure to ensure that downtown remains livable.

That means continuing to invest in the parks, community spaces, and childcare centres that make downtown accessible and enjoyable. It means investing in the pedestrian, cycling, and public transit infrastructure to ensure downtown residents can continue to get around in an urban century that will be driven by active, rather than vehicular, transportation.

It means redesigning our streets to move people around safely, rather than cars quickly. And it means creating the tax and economic incentives to support small and independent businesses as well arts and culture. Taken together, it’s this vision for a livable and vibrant downtown that I want to continue working towards.

However, just as our work to build a livable downtown is necessary, my passion for addressing inequality is what wakes me up every morning. I simply cannot accept living in a city where only the fortunate can thrive. Building affordable housing, investing in the health and social services to end homelessness, and supporting strong and safe neighbourhoods to end the cycle of violence. A truly equitable city and downtown is not a dream, it is a platform that can and must be implemented by city council.

When I first ran for city council four years ago I was driven by the issues, but if I’m being completely honest, part of it was also about myself. There was some ego involved as well.

Four years later and I’ve been humbled. I’ve learned that the best form of politics is one where people are empowered to improve their own neighbourhoods. That’s what this is all about, working together to build a more livable and equitable downtown for all. I hope to have the opportunity to continue doing just that with you.

Joe Cressy is the councillor for Ward 20, Trinity-Spadina. He submitted his forum piece before the premier announced his plan to cut the number of city councillors.

Joe Cressy is a candidate for election in the newly created Ward 24.

 

READ MORE BY JOE CRESSY:

FORUM: Small businesses create a liveable city (March 2018)

FORUM: Looking back on 2017 in Ward 20 (Dec. 2017)

FORUM: Establishing a new Indigenous Affairs Office (Nov. 2017)

FORUM: Toronto — an artistic city (FALL 2017)

FORUM: Address affordable housing (June 2017)

FORUM: Build a neighbourhood (March 2017)

FORUM: Conserving past to enrich future (January 2017)

FORUM: Our dynamic Kensington Market (November 2016)

FORUM: A new central park for Toronto (September 2016)

Tags: Annex · Opinion