Learn Ward 10 ‘Spadina Fort York’ Council Candidates’ platforms for Toronto parks

11 Oct

dogs-at-polling-stations-photos-pictures-election-2017-voting-polls-pets-dogs-962238To help residents in our community make informed choices in the October 22nd municipal election, the Friends of Berczy Park working Committee asked candidates in Ward 10 to state their position on the Park People Parks Platform, a list of policy positions designed by the Park People non-profit organization, to improve funding for Toronto parks programming, operations, maintenance and community engagement.

Below we have published the responses received to date by the registered candidates in this ward. Please note, we contacted all candidates with published contact information on the list of candidates on toronto.ca. We have published their responses in the order to which they were received. We twice invited these candidates to respond and we thank those who found the time to do so.

Note: Berczy Park is located in Ward 13 ‘Toronto Centre”, the new ward designation for this location, following the amalgamation of wards by the provincial government in fall 2018. Previously, Berczy Park was included within Ward 21.

Keep in mind that many Berczy Park users actually live in Ward 10 “Spadina – Fort York”, since the ward boundary runs down the middle of the Esplanade. Residents on the south side of The Esplanade now reside in Ward 10. This Councillor should also be responsive to Berczy Park issues although the park does not sit directly in that ward.  See our separate blog post regarding park promises by candidates in Ward 10.

You can find Ward and Councillor contact information at www.toronto.ca.

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Response from Candidate Rick Myers (received Oct 4, 2018):

“I am in favour of more and greater access to green space.  Sadly, we can’t reclaim what current councillor’s have given away.  As a family and pet supporter, I would certainly champion for more family/pet friendly areas throughout the city. I often go to the Cork Common park, which in my opinion is a wonderful self sustaining eco system and is very well maintained.  That is the degree that I would push to bring other parks to as a  standard throughout.”

  1. Overall, do you support the broad policy positions of the Park People Parks Platform? No response. 
  2. In terms of paying for parks, do you support an increase in the parks operating and maintenance budget and commit to clear, multi-year funding for park plans? This would enable the creation of dedicated park supervisors in heavily used parks and reduce workload on park staff. (Parks Platform points #1 & #2) No response.
  3. In terms of people in parks, do you support including funding for long-term engagement, including community programming, within capital budgets for new park designs? (Parks Platform point #6) No response.
  4. Do you support a free and easy “community event permit” open to recognized, local community groups to organize open activities in the local park for less than 75 people? (Parks Platform point #7) No response.
  5. What other elements of the Parks Platform do you support? No response. 

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Responses by Candidate Kevin Vuong (received Oct 4, 2018):

1. Overall, do you support the broad policy positions of the Park People Parks Platform?
Thank you so much for these Questions. It was an absolutely pleasure to learn more about and review the Park People Parks Platform. I thought the platform was well thought out, comprehensive, and sets a very good direction for parks in our city. As such I can say that yes, Without a doubt, I do support the broad policy positions of the Platform. 
2. In terms of paying for parks, do you support an increase in the parks operating and maintenance budget and commit to clear, multi-year funding for park plans? This would enable the creation of dedicated park supervisors in heavily used parks and reduce workload on park staff. (Parks Platform points #1 & #2)
If elected I would be supportive of an increase to the parks operating and maintenance budget. I am also a very strong proponent of multi-year funding/budgeting for key city issues from Parks to transit to community programs. I support multi-year funding mainly to ensure that we provide predictability, consistency and reliability to our parks and other city services as well as to the users of our parks, the citizens of Toronto.
3.  In terms of people in parks, do you support including funding for long-term engagement, including community programming, within capital budgets for new park designs? (Parks Platform point #6)
I support some base funding for long-term engagement, including community programming from capital budgets. I think ensuring that there is core funding is important to make sure programming is possible across the city regardless of the profile of the neigbourhood. That said, I do also believe there is a role for neighbourhood associations, community groups and other partners to contribute to local parks. The involvement of community and local business partners has the potential to build stronger and more engaged communities. 
4.  Do you support a free and easy “community event permit” open to recognized, local community groups to organize open activities in the local park for less than 75 people? (Parks Platform point #7)
I strongly, strongly, support this. I find that far too many city permits are needlessly expensive and are quite harmful to people, businesses and communities. In the case of parks I would strongly support the change to a free ‘community event permit’ as described in the Platform. 
5. What other elements of the Parks Platform do you support?
I generally enjoyed and support the Platform. However, specific areas where I am most interested (beyond my answers above) include my support for: 
i) A  tiered system over hard cap in terms of how many funds/in lieu the city gets based on land being developed. A tiered or density approach makes more economic and policy sense. I also support, and would work with communities if elected, to use funds raised under section 37 of the planning act for park improvement and creation. 
ii) In my ward, Ward 10 Spadina-Fort York, we have a shortage of quality park lands given that it is a heavily urban and increasingly vertical ward. As such I strongly support the connectivity of the park system and I am very excited about moving forward with the development of the Rail Deck Park. 
iii) Green infrastructure and the stormwater fee. This is something I have already loudly and publically spoken in favour of. Extreme weather events are causing havoc on  downtown communities which have a deficiency of greenpace. Concrete and other impermeable surfaces only adds to the damage and flooding caused by these weather events. We need both better nuts and bolts infrastructure and green infrastructure. Well designed wetlands, park spaces and using other natural elements both beautifies our neighbourhoods and helps us better control extreme weather events and flooding. It also reduces the impact on residents and other infrastructure. 
6. If you are unfamiliar with Parks Platform, we encourage you to provide a paragraph summarizing your platform regarding Toronto parks.
My general policy on parks and greenspaces for Ward 10 is that we need much more of them, of higher quality and should be connected to other parks/natural systems in the city. However, after reading this Platform I will add to my general views with the well thought out and positive points in the Park People Park Platform. Thank you for sharing it. I have learned from it and will support it in my own platform and in discussions with voters!

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Response from Candidate Joe Cressy (received Oct 4, 18):

  1. Overall, do you support the broad policy positions of the Park People Parks Platform? Yes, I fully support the broad policy positions of the Park People Parks Platform.
  2. In terms of paying for parks, do you support an increase in the parks operating and maintenance budget and commit to clear, multi-year funding for park plans? This would enable the creation of dedicated park supervisors in heavily used parks and reduce workload on park staff. (Parks Platform points #1 & #2): Yes, I fully support increasing the parks operating and maintenance budget and commit to clear, multi-year funding for park plans. 
  3. In terms of people in parks, do you support including funding for long-term engagement, including community programming, within capital budgets for new park designs? (Parks Platform point #6): Yes, I fully support including funding for long-term engagement including community programming, within capital budgets for new park designs.
  4. Do you support a free and easy “community event permit” open to recognized, local community groups to organize open activities in the local park for less than 75 people? (Parks Platform point #7): Yes, I fully support a free and easy community event permit open to recognized, local community groups to organize open activities in local parks for less then 75 people.
  5. What other elements of the Parks Platform do you support? Additionally I fully support the Parks Platform policies regarding reform park levies, to ensure we invest in new park space based on density being added across neighbourhoods, especially in the downtown, planning for parks connectivity and investing in projects like Rail Deck Park and others, investing in Climate resiliency including championing and implementing a stormwater charge. Adding additional seating across our parks systems is also a critical way to ensure residents across our neighbourhoods can enjoy our parks and greenspaces.
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Response from Candidate April Engelberg (Received Oct 11, 2018):
“Spadina- Fort York is very dense and needs more green space. We need another Trinity Bellwoods park, which is why it’s time to invest in the Rail Deck Park project. I strongly support the project to build a park covering the rail tracks all the way from Blue Jays Way to Bathurst Street. I understand your enthusiasm for this project and I will advocate to bring it to fruition. On a more immediate basis, we need to invest in our existing parks. I will work with the city to improve our existing parks to better serve our community.”
  1. Overall, do you support the broad policy positions of the Park People Parks Platform? Yes – I am a big supporter of improving our existing parks and building new parks.
  2. In terms of paying for parks, do you support an increase in the parks operating and maintenance budget and commit to clear, multi-year funding for park plans? This would enable the creation of dedicated park supervisors in heavily used parks and reduce workload on park staff. (Parks Platform points #1 & #2) Yes.
  3. In terms of people in parks, do you support including funding for long-term engagement, including community programming, within capital budgets for new park designs? (Parks Platform point #6)  Yes. Parks are truly meant to be a highlight of the ward. 
  4. Do you support a free and easy “community event permit” open to recognized, local community groups to organize open activities in the local park for less than 75 people? (Parks Platform point #7)  Yes. 
  5. What other elements of the Parks Platform do you support? I support improved maintenance of parks and higher budgets for parks.
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