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April 14th, 2015 · No Comments

Elected representatives agree on Trinity-Spadina priorities

By Annemarie Brissenden

Trinity-Spadina’s elected representatives are committed to working together to improve transit infrastructure, increase affordable housing, and enhance the liveability of the area. They also share a renewed spirit of optimism after a series of elections last year that have resulted in new faces at all levels of government.

“It’s nice being the longest serving member,” laughed Adam Vaughan (MP, Trinity-Spadina), who was elected in a federal by-election last June, after previously serving as city councillor. He has “a good working relationship with the others,” none of whom come “from a long history of divisive party politics.”

As Joe Cressy (Ward 20, Trinity-Spadina), who ran against Vaughan in the by-election before taking the MP’s vacated municipal seat in the October election, pointed out, “We’re all Trinity-Spadina loyalists.”

Trustee Ausma Malik (TDSB Ward 10, Trinity-Spadina) agreed.

“We all share a passionate love for our communities,” said Malik, who believes a school is the heart of its community. She wants to change the relationship people have with their local trustee, so they know who their trustee is and what they do.

Malik has met with all of her “elected counterparts at all different levels” to “affirm our commitment to cooperation” and “to share our different priorities”.

Chief among those is the need to bring “fast transit to the most people in the most economical way,” said Mike Layton (Ward 19, Trinity-Spadina), something that Vaughan highlighted as well.

The MP focused on boosting transit’s usability by, for example, enhancing nighttime service and developing more points of access.

Han Dong (MPP, Trinity-Spadina) echoed Layton and Vaughan, and said that “moving people in and out” of the area will require cooperation from all levels of government.

It’s a challenge born of increasing density. And, given the number of new condominiums approved by city council last year, he added, that trend isn’t going to abate anytime soon. Dong is also concerned about the sustainability of this growth, and the riding’s capacity for absorbing such a surge without leaving anyone behind.

Everyone stressed the need to grow in an equitable manner, and highlighted the importance of building new safe affordable housing, while protecting the existing stock through revitalization and repairs.

For his part, Vaughan, who would like a national affordable housing program, “is greatly encouraged by the innovative approach that is emerging on [the Mirvish Village/Honest Ed’s] site,” where Westbank Project Corp.’s architect, Gregory Henriquez, is considering building purpose-built rentals across different economic scales. Henriquez, who comes from a tradition of community-based development, wants to create something that promotes the public realm by celebrating the area’s history.

In this, the architect is considering liveability as much as density, a critical component of any development.

As Cressy explained, “We have to make sure that we’re not just adding density, but that we’re building neighbourhoods with the necessary support and infrastructure.”

“We all understand how much has changed in Trinity-Spadina,” said Dong. He said the important question is how to create a liveable community in the face of such tremendous growth.

For Cressy, it’s all about strengthening neighbourhoods. He pointed to planned park improvements as well as the opening of two new schools, a community centre, and a daycare at CityPlace, all in his ward.

He also, like Layton, stressed the necessity of freeing Toronto from the purview of the Ontario Municipal Board, and reaffirmed his opposition to the expansion of the island airport, which he said, “is not compatible with a diverse waterfront”.

Vaughan’s other priorities for the coming year include rail safety, an especially critical area as “more and more volatile goods are moved through the north corridor of the riding,” and emphasizing the need to change the relationship between the federal government and the nation’s cities.

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