Skip to main content

With the nexus of Highways 401 and 404 and the Don Valley Parkway at its core, traffic is a key issue for residents of Ward 33 (Don Valley East) who have to live with the overflow on their residential streets.

"Motorists clog the main streets and then use our secondary streets," said Jim Conlon, one of eight candidates vying to become the new councillor for this ward in the former city of North York.

There is no incumbent in this middle-class, ethnically diverse ward since Paul Sutherland left local politics to make an unsuccessful run as a Progressive Conservative candidate in last month's provincial election.

Mr. Conlon, who has lived 38 of his 41 years in the ward, believes the only solution to alleviating the traffic problem is to create a Central Ontario Transit Authority and to integrate the Toronto Transit Commission with it. "It's the only way to ensure proper funding from the province," said Mr. Conlon, an archeologist and international tourism development consultant.

An integrated public transit system would help keep fares down and thereby attract more riders, he said. He added that it would also provide a seamless transit system that would allow passengers to cross municipal boundaries without paying extra fares.

Shelley Carroll, the former ward trustee and co-chair of the Toronto District School Board, agrees that a single transit authority for the entire Greater Toronto Area is warranted to deal with the traffic problem.

She said it is especially relevant for a ward such as Don Valley East, where roads were not designed to handle the number of vehicles that use them as shortcuts to avoid the DVP.

Wayne Habbib, 46, who runs a coffee service business, said that as a trained civil engineer he can suggest to council several ways to ease the area's gridlock, although he did not want to give specifics.

Safety has also become an issue in this middle-class ward since the recent abduction of 10-year-old Cecilia Zhang from her family home in Don Valley East.

The crime has left the impression that the area is not safe, Mr. Habbib said. The ward is a safe place to live, he said, calling the little girl's kidnapping a "once-off situation."

What the community needs, Mr. Habbib said, is more community involvement to make it even safer. "We need neighbours to be neighbours," he said.

With renters making up 47.7 per cent of the ward's population, tenant issues are front and centre in all the candidates' platforms, but most prominently in that of Rob Davis.

Mr. Davis, 39, lost his seat in the last election to Councillor Joe Mihevc after a ward redistribution pitted the two incumbents against each other.

Attracted by the lack of a sitting councillor, Mr. Davis is taking on the three other candidates who have a long history of community service in the ward.

Mr. Davis, who failed in his bid to win a seat for the Tories in the 1996 by-election in York South after Bob Rae stepped down, said he is concerned about landlords jacking up rents once the new Liberal government removes the freeze on hydro rates.

Projecting that rents could jump 5 or 6 per cent to offset the increased cost of electricity, Mr. Davis said that rate increases should be eased in for multi-tenant high-rises until the government changes the Tenant Protection Act.

Mr. Davis is focusing on his record on tenant rights, including closing a loophole that would have resulted in a rent increase for about 80,000 tenants whose landlords converted to low-flow toilets.

He promises to lobby the province to reinstate rent controls within six months.

As vice-chair of the TTC for three years, Mr. Davis said he is the only candidate with city hall experience.

He is promising to push the provincial and federal governments to allocate two cents of the existing gasoline tax for public transit.

Also running are Asad Alam, Aris Babikian, Allan Ginsberg and Ari Maounis.