John Jeffery

Candidate for City Council Ward 25


The more community meetings that I attend in the push to election day, the more I am convinced that community councils are the right thing to implement. Area residents in this ward generally know what the issues are and know how they should be fixed. We need to create these councils give them resources and a framework to operate within.
A good article suggesting that the way to make City Hall work better is to add community councils city wide. This would return some power and decision making for local issues back to those affected by those issues. Monies from Section 37 funds could be divided between Community Council’s to decide by democratic means how the funds should be spent.
This would be reverting to the old structure at city hall before amalgamation. The 25 elected Councillors look after city wide issues and the community councils would look after community issues.
This apparently would not need approval of the province.

Can community councils save the City of Toronto?

Another great article we can create affordable housing with some innovative thinking and without raising taxes or selling off city owned land.
“Without selling the land … the public agency can partner with private or non-profit developers to build homes for a range of family sizes and incomes, both rental and market, along with a mix of commercial and retail spaces, parks and investments in the public realm. Both parties share in the sales, profits and rents from completed projects that the public sector can direct toward more affordable housing and transit investments.”

The housing crisis is a complex problem that requires creative solutions. Those solutions should start with what works for people, not speculators.

New developments should have a minimum of 20% of their space/units set aside for affordable units and for community services. We need innovative solutions such as “tiny homes,” lane-way housing, co-housing and secondary suites. Increase the budget in funding for shelters, social, co-op and supportive housing.

The city should be looking at its stock of public housing. It cannot afford the estimated $2 billion to bring it up to acceptable standards. The city should be working with reputable developers in a public/private partnership redevelop these properties without the city ceding ownership.

The redevelopment of Regent’s Park is a good example of a win win redevelopment, one issue is the speed of getting through all the red tape, Regent’s Park redevelopment started 30 odd years ago and it is still not completed! Unless significant changes are made to the process significant gains in increasing housing stock in the city will stall. These are issues that are completely in control of city council.

Changes to development, zoning and planning rules would not cost citizens more tax dollars, it would create more housing. Having a roof over your head makes life better for everyone. Young families can afford to buy a home, seniors can afford to stay in their homes, and no one should be forced to sleep on the street.

Toronto has a significant issue with property taxation on local businesses.

Intense, rapid development in Toronto has led to massive hikes in commercial property values and taxes. Independent businesses are feeling the crunch. Many have closed, and more are threatened by rising space costs.
What does this mean? The Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) will assess a commercial property’s value according to what it could be, rather than what it is. As a result, property values have been skyrocketing in Toronto, and with them, commercial property tax bills.
This system has put enormous financial pressure on the diverse businesses and organizations responsible for paying these escalating bills, forcing cutbacks and sometimes, full closures.

If we don’t find solutions, the result may be the full-scale hollowing out of independent culture, heritage, local entrepreneurship and small business across the city.

This is not a new issue, city councilors have known about for years but have not dealt with in any substantive way.
A solution is relatively simple, don’t assess existing buildings at the higher valuation until they are sold and re-developed.

We have a good track record for attracting good new innovative businesses to Toronto there is more that we can do.
Toronto needs to slash red tape, use online technologies to apply for permits and licenses,  change the assessed value of commercial properties and slow property-tax hikes for business in order to keep its economy moving as it faces challenges beyond its control.

Why do elevators in Toronto let us down?
A recurring issue is the number of elevators that are out of service, in many cases for long periods of time.
This is not just an inconvenience but can be a serious issue for those who cannot manage the stairs. As the population ages there will be more and more people placed in potentially life threatening situations due to the lack of elevators in service.
If commercial buildings can get this right and maintain their banks of elevators so can residential buildings.
Property managers and elevator companies should be working together to increase preventative maintenance schedules, increase the number of available technicians and keep more spare parts in stock locally.
This issue has been discussed by city council and in the provincial legislature for years with no result, time for action.

Conversation with a Paramedic:
P: Elevators are a real problem sometimes for reaching patients. If one is broken, one is on service and the third has all the building’s traffic congested into it, it’s quite the wait.
Me: How do you get to a patient in an emergency if the elevators are not accessible? Is there an emergency over-ride for emergency services?
P: Two options: we hoof it up the stairs, like we do during black outs, and if we need to extricate the patient we have a wheelchair-like device that can carry them down the stairs.
Or, we can find a building superintendent or maintenance staff and put an elevator on service, meaning only whoever is on board it can operate it, and it won’t respond to summons on other floors. Neither of these options are very timely, since it’s stairs vs. contacting a person who could be anywhere in or out of the building, and that’s only if the super’s contact info is listed at the building entrance for us to get in touch with them.

Me: Did not think the situation was as bad as that – was assuming emergency services had an over ride on the elevators. Not much use if they are all out of action. It would seem there should be at least a way for emergency service to access the elevators. Not much point having lights and sirens if you get blocked in the lobby.

Safe injections sites provide a much needed service to those who need it.
Evidence shows that they do save lives; however, they should also be good neighbours. There are some some side effects that have a negative impact on the immediate community.
The immediate area should be kept spotlessly clean  – dispose of refuse and needles.
Security personnel should be present at all times  to keep dealers away from the area and to keep residents and passersby from being accosted.

Inside the clinic there should be counseling and resources for those who want to kick the habit.

The forlorn image of the St Charles Tavern, a historic site to many of us, is the vision that Kristyn Wong-Tam has for our Village.

Wouldn’t it be better if we either re-imagined the streetscape for the community or used Yorkville as a template for what the village could become.
Why is The Village not a Heritage Conservation District?

City planning should be based on longer time horizons, ideally 10 – 20 years. Short term planning does not work; developers call the shots and we end up tearing apart neighbourhoods. City planners (the experts) should lead this work with politicians providing a sounding board. City planning must include the integration of all support systems (transit, utilities, community centers).

Our streetscapes need to be made friendlier to all users. Those who are driving, using public transportation, pedestrians and cyclists. Currently sidewalks are too narrow in many parts of the city. New buildings are not set back to give adequate space to users of the sidewalks and roads, giving the impression of walking in through a canyon devoid of any character or beauty. Perhaps the use of more one-way streets in the city would allow for wider sidewalks, bike lanes, and the integration of public transit and vehicle traffic in the remaining space. Pedestrian enjoyment would increase, cyclists would be better protected, and traffic would more easily flow.

We absolutely need to fund the Toronto Youth Equity Strategy to ensure that it does not fail, in fact it should thrive. To those who are concerned about youth and gang violence get behind this program and ensure it works.
Four years staff envisioned $15.8M annually. They got <$500K. But the police received $44M this year to get guns off the street. Would this be necessary had the youth equity strategy been properly funded?

Illegally parked vehicles are a bane for all road users. Not only do they inconvenience people but they can be dangerous. There should be zero tolerance. Our parking enforcement people are very often not where they should be to deal with the individuals. Why don’t we update the 311 app or the waze app so that reporting the location of illegally parked cars can be instantly communicated and an enforcement officer dispatched?

It really is a no brainer, make coffee cups and their lids 100% recyclable.

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