a BETTER Toronto Speaks For Itself.
Every Friday, we profile a different Torontonian, in their own words, about what would make the city they live in BETTER. If you are interested in being profiled, contact us.
This April Adelaida Blaxley finished her undergraduate career at University of Toronto and is now turning her efforts towards working for a BETTER Toronto. In particular, she believes that young people in Toronto need to know that their issues, viewpoints, and voices matter; and that Robb’s platform is one of the best for reaching out to youth.
As someone who represented U of T on the women’s cross country team and also works for the Running Room, she feels that recreation that is accessible and inviting to all citizens is a vital part of a healthy city. Whether it is making the city more cyclist-friendly, or ensuring that after-school programs for sports are not neglected, Adelaida knows that we need a mayor who cares about the interests of the people of Toronto.
Adelaida also sees the positive change that can be made by someone who truly cares about the arts and nightlife of the city. Robb’s support of initiatives such as Music City and the call to move last call to a later hour are important for the energy of Toronto’s culture. We have a wonderfully vibrant music scene that needs the support of politicians who realize how enriched this city is by the remarkable talent that Canadian musicians have to show.
Katie Grant is an entrepreneur and founder of a not for profit design and technology Toronto based group called Indesology operating out of the Centre of Social Innovation. Indesology hosts talks, workshops, and seminars with a focus on design and technology. The group also does it’s own side projects under the same umbrella of interests which Indesology is hoping to showcase at Nuit Blanche 2015. You can catch Indesology at Digifest Toronto this year at the Maker Showcase on May 10th inside the Corus Building, close to sugar beach where they will be hosting a DIY tech hub making #rad wearables.
Like many Torontonians, the arts and culture scene is important to Katie. She believes that keeping a culturally rich diversity of innovation and creativity in the city keeps Toronto interesting to travel to, evolving economically and a vibrant place to live.
Katie also wants to see more bike lanes, which will allow cyclists to safely travel through busy arteries including from the downtown core to York University and along the Lake Shore where the bike path breaks in several places before reaching Oakville. Also, more transit options that will eliminate waiting periods and packed cars during rush periods on the TTC including streetcar routes especially along King St., Queen St., Dundas St. and especially Spadina Ave (under the umbrella of BETTER solutions to congestion).
Another important issue and probably, one that should be the most important to Torontonians, is the inclusion of more social services for struggling lower income families such as: more daycare options for single parents such as shorter waiting lists, access to free education, and free life and career counselling.
Hello! I’m Cynthia Gould. By day, I’m a graphic designer. By night, I’m the singer/guitarist of Toronto’s best drunkrock band High Heels Lo Fi.
I “grew up” in Port Hope, moving to Toronto shortly after college — now I could never imagine living anywhere else.
The Toronto art scene it is incredibly inspiring – the constant flow of visual, audio, and performance art never stops. From modern dance to classic painting to experimental bands, Toronto never seems to have a lull in the creative energy flow. The music scene is especially supportive in our city, and I’ve met many of my best friends simply through chatting to fellow musicians and music lovers.
One of the things that thrills me about being in a band is including non-musicians at shows. Dragging people (especially girls) on stage to dance, play cowbell, shake a pompom, be crazy – I feel that it’s my mission to help people cut loose and scream for the sake of fun. People can be uptight and grown up on somebody else’s time. Empowerment and finding your voice sometimes takes many baby steps, and the best time to start is right this second.
I’m on The Art Bar Poetry Series team – we organize Canada’s longest running poetry-only weekly reading series. This is another wonderful opportunity to help people express themselves and come out of their shells at the open mic. I also organize wacky parties like the Toronto Tinfoil Hat Contest, and the pub crawl Bridesmaidmania.
The “small town” feeling of many of Toronto’s neighbourhoods is uplifting. I live on The Danforth / East Side (Ward 29 – Toronto/Danforth), land of farmer’s markets, community groups, and saying “good morning” to your neighbours. This leads to people supporting their local restaurants and shops — the Danforth East Community Association (DECA) has even done makeovers on a few local stores to increase their profiles, include the community, and improve the retail landscape.
Apparently north of Woodbine and Danforth is a several block radius with more artists/creative types per home than anywhere else in the city (naturally I cannot find the link today, but there are people doing a study on this). Also, the air quality is higher east of the Don Valley, which is important for those of us with asthma.
Originally from Venezuela, Carolina’s family found a sanctuary of sorts in Toronto. She chose to live downtown because of the sense of community, and specifically in the Village because of its tolerance for ethnic, cultural, and sexual diversity. She believes her community makes her a better person, and would like to see the development of low-to-mid rise buildings to include designated units for social housing to facilitate the integration of a broad range of communities, incomes, and cultures.
Carolina has witnessed what she sees as a truly inclusive and optimistic community in Ward 27, which she believes is partly the result of access to social services that should also be expanded to allow citizens in other parts of the city to benefit from through BETTER transit.
As a citizen living with chronic rheumatoid arthritis, Carolina is able to be a functioning and contributing citizen. However, exposure to Toronto’s long, cold winters can inflame her condition significantly. Transit accessibility, reliability, and wait times in light of congestion are not only matters of mobility for her, but also of her physical health and well-being. She believes that transit and pedestrian-only corridors on Queen and King Streets would help reduce congestion and increase accessibility — as she feels transit hasn’t been growing at the same rate that the population and infrastructure of Toronto have been.
Carolina is a strong advocate for local business in maintaining the unique cultural centres of Toronto. For example, she is opposed to big box stores such as Wal-Mart coming into Kensington Market, as it’s one of the only locales in Toronto where she can go out for her own ethnic food; where musicians can perform, network, and socialize; and where nightlife is part of a cultural experience that would not be possible if homogenized by chain businesses and high-rise condo developments.
With many close friends who not only live on Toronto’s waterfront but are certified paddling instructors whose livelihood depends on an congestion-free and accessible waterfront, Carolina feels expansion of the Toronto Island Airport would be a barrier to maintaining the waterfront’s physical and environmental integrity.
Follow @paintband on Twitter.
Ravi Desai is a computer programmer who began teaching himself four years ago and has worked professionally in the field for two years. He lives at Jarvis and Wellesley (Ward 27 – Toronto Centre-Rosedale), which he feels is a safe and tight-knit community with great nightlife, in close proximity to his work, and friendly for cycling.
An enthusiastic member of Toronto’s BIXI Public Bike System, Ravi has never been a stranger to cycling, and although his advanced experience cycling in Mumbai allows him to navigate skillfully with or without bike lanes, he does feel that many would benefit from increased bike accessibility, particularly families with children.
Using the time he lived in Kingston as comparison, Ravi admits he can only live without a car thanks to Toronto’s subway system — which has afforded him the connectivity to network and find employment in a flexible and efficient manner. He supports an LRT, as well as making Queen and King Streets more pedestrian, cycle, and streetcar-friendly with the removal of vehicle traffic and street parking, which would not only reduce congestion, but make major downtown streets more beautiful.
Follow @ravidesai0 on Twitter.
My name is Ali Tuckey. I am an undergraduate student at the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus. I am about to graduate in June and would like to pursue a career in feminist academia. As a student queer student in Toronto I have been very involved in the queer Toronto community and due to recent mayoral perpetuated preconceptions of the queer community and culture, I want BETTER support from our new mayor for the queer community.
During the first debate of the election campaign there was a question asked to the candidates regarding how at risk queer trans, and gender non conforming youth should be supported within youth facilities. Robb Johannes was the only candidate that responded with a coherent answer and plan as to how these youth specifically should be supported. This is when I began identifying with the Robbnotford campaign. Queer people from all over the GTA’s, as well as Toronto’s, lives are greatly impacted by the resources available in Toronto. There is potential to make a difference within the lives of queer trans and gender non-conforming youth within the Toronto space. If the city is not united in supporting marginalized communities, this will gravely impact the daily lives of the entire community. This is why the queer trans and gender non-conforming need and deserve a BETTER Toronto and a BETTER mayor.
Similarly, there needs to be more advocate resources within the wider span of Toronto. Scarborough queers specifically are often subjected to travel to downtown on what can be often unreliable TTC in order to get to basic queer resources. This can be an issue of making the transit system in Toronto BETTER as we’ll as expanding the queer community to outside of Church street and downtown. There are queer people within every community and this should be reflected within the wider Toronto region.
Follow @femqueery on Twitter.
Katherine Cummings is a Digital Strategist with a background in Event Management and Film Studies. She just moved back into the city to a small two-bedroom apartment in St. Clair West (Ward 21 – St. Paul’s).
Her love for people and passion for the arts stems from years of fighting for artists’ opportunities. Eight months into her first business, Social Enthusiast, she hopes to one day revolutionize the world of the start-up by introducing a cyclical funding system.
As someone who has been underemployed (“precariat”) all her life, Katherine recognizes (mostly through personal experience) that in today’s economy, people do not have the ability to choose their own hours and would like to see a BETTER transit system for all individuals working the night shift.
Katherine was drawn to Robb’s platform identifying as a sex positive individual who loves BETTER arts and culture, BETTER nightlife, and wants to see BETTER opportunities and equal rights for friends and family both in the arts and the LGBTTIQQ2SA community.
Follow @kat1202 on Twitter.
Meet Kevin James Hunt. He’s a software consultant, working downtown, living in the far west end near High Park (Ward 14 – Parkdale/High Park). Kevin chooses to live where he does because the rent is too high downtown, especially for a young working professional just out of school with student loans. Upon graduation, Kevin made an impressive $50,000 annually, but still could not cover his basic living expenses and student debts comfortably anywhere close to where he worked.
During his most recent round of looking for work contracts, Kevin’s final decision was made based on TTC accessibility. He took a job for less money because the higher-paying offer would have had a 45-60 minute commute (one-way). The unpredictability of commute times from where he lives to Yonge and Eglinton, for example, could range between 20-90 minutes, entirely dependent upon traffic on King Street with the 504 streetcar. Citizens like Kevin are one reason I advocate BETTER transit and exploring removing street traffic from King and Queen Streets.
Kevin is more well-off now, but has chosen to stay near High Park because it’s become an artistic hub, with solid nightlife, restaurants, and a sense of community. It wasn’t always that way, he says, but as bohemians and artists began to move westward, the sense of safety increased, mostly because of more affordable bars. The area has become unique, thanks to BETTER nightlife.
Follow @kevinjameshunt on Twitter.