Toronto.com: Scarborough voters want a Toronto mayor ‘who will deliver’ on repairs, housing, jobs and transit: Analysis
Posted April 13, 2023
What do Scarborough voters want from a new mayor?
Someone who fixes broken stuff, who can build a transit system that works and bring Scarborough jobs — good jobs that support families, like Scarborough once had in abundance.
“It’s a bedroom community, so they don’t worry about us. We’re the quiet kid that sits in a corner,” says Bernadette Mamo from Dorset Park.
A member of the advocacy group ACORN, Mamo said John Tory, Toronto’s former mayor, “was all downtown” and treated Scarborough as an afterthought.
Tory may disagree, but other residents of the former borough shared her opinion the city’s next leader better do more to clear snow, repair potholes, and fix buckling sidewalks.
“The usual, right?” added Mamo, who believes Scarborough is used to not having things done.
“We’re paying money for this stuff, c’mon.”
Permanent municipal jobs are good jobs. Since 2015, Tory pledged he’d transfer city employees to Scarborough.
Local businesses and the Scarborough Community Renewal Organization (SCRO) loved the idea, asking Tory to push thousands of city workers into the half-empty Scarborough Civic Centre and buildings nearby.
Tory said the city’s example would get private companies to follow its lead.
Nothing happened. Tory repeated the pledge, though, telling Scarborough business owners last July “hundreds” of city employees would come as soon as Civic Centre renovations were finished.
His audience applauded Tory and asked for little. They had no leverage, knowing he’d win another term.
Now, nobody knows who Toronto’s next mayor will be. Scarborough could swing the byelection.
Niyosha Keyzad, co-founder of University of Toronto Scarborough’s Scarborough Studies, hopes local voters do their reading on what candidates have done for Scarborough.
Folks there are outspoken about the need for better health services, better economic opportunities and transit, she said, but Scarborough and Toronto’s other inner suburbs are seeing the impact of austerity in city budgets, said Keyzad.
“If Scarborough is getting more dense, we’ll see more needs, and yet we’re seeing cuts,” she added.
“We need a mayor who will deliver.”
Tory said he’d build Scarborough a transit network and the Bloor-Danforth subway extension is finally underway.
But will the Eglinton East light-rail line get built? Will there be a busway along Ellesmere Road to Scarborough Town Centre? A SmartTrack station in Agincourt? Bus-only lanes on Finch and Steeles avenues?
At this moment, nobody really knows, but in 2023 the Scarborough Rapid Transit line shuts down while many Scarborough bus routes get slower.
Nithursan Elamuhilan, a photographer who relies on transit and hopes to document the RT’s last days, said he’s seen friends move out of Toronto because they lack housing options.
Elamuhilan said he’s looking for a “proactive mayor” who will move forward on housing, including affordable housing, in the suburbs and can make tough decisions on new revenue tools, such as parking levies, even if they upset some Scarborough voters.
“The Scarborough I want to see is the Scarborough that can grow. When Scarborough’s successful, Toronto’s successful,” he said.
Started by local Rotarians and other Scarborough boosters, SCRO also asked Tory to protect employment lands that can yield future jobs from residential redevelopment, to create a separate Scarborough economic plan, and to study building a performing arts centre similar to Mississauga’s Living Arts Centre.
“We have our own identity and are proud of it,” Larry Whatmore, the group’s president, said by email.
John Beers, co-ordinator of the Crossroads of the Danforth Business Improvement Area and a small-business owner himself, shares SCRO’s concern about vanishing employment lands, if not its enthusiasm for a central arts centre.
He’d like to remind everyone running Scarborough is not one neighbourhood, but many. “Being lumped all together as Scarborough isn’t fair to everybody,” said Beers.
That aside, the city’s looking rough and we need to spend some money putting it back together, dealing with garbage, graffiti and broken infrastructure, he said.
Article by Mike Adler for Toronto.com