Key Issues

From sidewalks to sports facilities, trash to transit, childcare to eldercare, parks to policing, energy to the environment, and heatwaves to housing, our municipal government makes decisions that deeply impact us and future generations.  These decisions should be based on sound evidence and on the needs of residents.  I will work with other Councillors, you, and City Staff to make decisions that focus on long-term solutions.  Please read more, below, about some of the issues, and contact me if you have any questions or if you want to share your thoughts.

First, you may want to check this article I wrote in 2014, shortly after the municipal election (In which I was a candidate).  Read the article here.  

Responsible Development & Complete Neighbourhoods:  housing, public spaces and services, and infrastructure

Development is necessary to the growth and success of a metropolitan city.  But not all development is great for all neighbourhoods and the city.  I want to make sure that we build not just condos, but community We need responsible development.  And we need to build complete neighbourhoods that provide housing and services for all.

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Responsible development means that we build complete neighbourhoods, not just buildings.  In other words, responsible development means that:

  • Developments contribute positively to the neighbourhood;
  • The height and density of developments align with the City’s Official Plan and Secondary Plans (which should themselves be sensible);
  • Adequate infrastructure is built to keep pace with population growth where new developments are proposed or planned—and developers, as well as the community and our government– contribute to improving and maintaining the infrastructure (parks, public spaces, transit, bike lanes, water and sewage);
  • The number of services the city provides (such as after school programs, libraries, seniors’ centres, affordable daycares, transit) keeps pace with the new developments. Developers act as community partners in providing these services;
  • We simultaneously add and build social infrastructure: parkland and community hubs where people gather, connect, and lead healthy lives;
  • New developments include a range of housing options, such as 2-3 bedroom units and affordable rentals, so that people of diverse income levels, young people, newcomers and seniors can find suitable, affordable homes close to work, family, and community

How Dyanoosh will make a difference:

As your Councillor, my priority is to improve our neighbourhoods.  My focus is on building and promoting inclusive, vibrant, and liveable communities.    My commitment is to you.

  • I do not take contributions from developers;
  • I will advocate for our community and city so that developments are reasonable in height and density, are environmentally sound, and responsibly address issues of sun light, green spaces, public spaces, public services, and infrastructure;
  • I will engage partners in higher education and the innovations industry to help us build greener, more sustainable neighbourhoods;
  • I will look for and do everything in my power to secure spaces that can be used for community benefit: parks, community hubs, community centres, and spaces for arts and culture;
  • I will work with the city and the province to ensure that we build a range of housing, so that we have safe, appropriate homes for young people entering the work force, seniors who are downsizing, and people on limited incomes, such as those working at minimum wage or precarious jobs.  I will also be a voice for more supportive housing for those with developmental and intellectual challenges, so that they and their families can have a greater sense of security.

As a resident of Ward 8 for the past 13 years, and through our residents’ association, I have been involved with the many development issues that we have faced in our neighbourhood.

My experience and engagement reach beyond our corner of the city.   As the Founder and Director of All IN, I have made submissions before all levels of government on housing issues.  As a Director of Parkdale Activity Recreation Centre I have worked with persons who’ve faced mental health, addictions, and poverty challenges and whose first need (like all of us) is to have safe shelter.  I have advocated on housing issues across the city and in the province, and am well-tuned into the connection between municipal, provincial, and federal policies and how they impact us and future generations.

 

Getting Around The City

A vibrant, healthy city is one where residents have all that they need in their own neighbourhoods, and where it is a joy to visit different neighbourhoods with relative ease. A world-class city integrates roads, a reliable transit system, and safe cycling and walking options. A city that is at the forefront of innovation, takes calculated risks, and is willing to look into the future will serve us and our children well, will bring in business, and provide increased security and a healthier lifestyle for its residents.

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How Dyanoosh will make a difference:

I believe that we need to expand our transit options, substantially improve the services that already exist, add continuous and safe bike lanes throughout the city, and improve sidewalks.   This, in turn, will make driving easier for drivers.  Building comprehensive transit, cycling and pedestrian options will have multiple benefits:

  • It will promote the physical and mental health. Not only will it encourage people to engage in more physical activity and time spent outdoors, but drivers will spend less time in traffic, increasing their quality of life;
  • It will help to combat climate change and global warming;
  • It will make for a more attractive city;
  • It has the potential to improve business and increase local shopping

I am committed to implementing Vision Zero.

How I will make a difference:

  • I commit to raising and securing revenue to build and improve transit and add bike lanes;
  • I will make building the Relief Line a priority, and will push to ensure that it gets built north of the Danforth;
  • I will work with TTC and residents to improve other transit options, such as dedicated bus lanes during rush hour to help facilitate the use of transit, and mini-busses during off-peak hours, so that seniors and those who work irregular hours can get around more easily.  It will take years to build the Relief Line and other forms of rapid transit.  We need to provide more alternatives to residents now;
  • I will make evidence-based decisions, and will not be afraid to challenge others on decisions that are mired in self-interest or mere political gain.  I will revisit the Scarborough subway, and depending on where we are in the plan and the money and resources already spent, will support reverting back to an LRT if that is the rational step to take (This should have always been a 7-stop LRT, and not a single stop, 6 km,$3.25Billion and rising subway);
  • I will look ahead: I will ask Council to examine how driverless cars will impact the use of our roads, and how they can be used to help our senior citizens and those persons who are unable to take transit on their own;
  • I will base my decisions regarding what to build, and where to build, on facts and evidence that support what form of transit is most suitable for each neighbourhood.  I will never make these decisions (or others) based on ideology or slogans;
  • I will work hard to get us unstuck. We have ignored our transit infrastructure for too long, and have been slow otherwise.  We need to stop stalling and remain committed to improving public transit and adding connected bicycle lanes throughout the city.

Safe Streets for Children, Seniors, Pedestrians & Cyclists

As our streets get busier, safety for pedestrians, children and adults alike, as well as cyclists, becomes an increasing concern.  I am committed to Vision Zero, and committed to ensuring safer streets in our neighbourhoods and throughout the city

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How Dyanoosh will make a difference:

We can change our street designs to improve safety and change driver behaviour.

I will work with residents and city experts to examine the various options available: painting lines, bump-outs at intersections, cameras, speed bumps, and officer presence.  Together, we will implement the most appropriate and reasonable options to ensure greater safety for all.

I will ensure that Council examines what is being done in other jurisdictions around the world, and will support sound pilot projects to examine the effectiveness of those project.    One example?  Dutch Junctions: these are worth a closer examination.

(Learn more here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FlApbxLz6pA).

I am committed to building a contiguous network of bike lanes throughout the city.

The streets are for all of us.  Together, we can make the city safer and more friendly for everyone.

Protecting Our Environment

City Council must act as a leader in promoting a cleaner environment for us all. We must take steps toward achieving a more environmentally friendly city, and to increasing public awareness on how we can all contribute to greener communities.

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We also have to be prepared for extreme weather and its repercussions.  Our current council voted against a motion to speed up the City’s plan to stop dumping sewage into our lakes.  This kind of decision is simply negligent and irresponsible.  We need to be pro-active in protecting ourselves and the future generation.

How Dyanoosh will make a difference:

In Council, I will work to:

  • Increase our tree canopy to help clean our air and reduce the negative impacts of environmental change;
  • Explore sensible ways to reduce our environmental footprint;
  • Build better and more connected bike lanes;
  • Improve public transit;
  • Monitor and take steps to decrease the toxins that enter our water and air;
  • Install more (functioning) water fountains throughout the city;
  • Decrease our use of plastics: paper bags or reuseable bags for groceries, dramatic reduction (and reach zero) of sales of plastic water on city property;
  • Find innovative solutions to reduce plastic (investing in or partnering with startups and inventors that make reuseable or organic products, such as soy-based cutlery for fast food);
  • Ensure that garbage collection in apartment buildings and condominiums on the west side of Yonge include organics pick-ups

I am committed to examining the long-term environmental impact of decisions that affect the water we drink and the air we breathe, and to taking all reasonable steps to protect our environment for future generations.

Reducing Violence and Gun Crimes

This year has been particularly awful, as far as gun crimes and violent killings on our streets are concerned.  The question is, what do we do about it?  More importantly, what haven’t we done about violence and crime that we should be doing? Many people are jumping to an answer that is easy to support, but not actually effective:  banning guns.  While I agree that no one (other than police officers) needs to carry guns in our city, I believe that a gun ban is not a panacea.  It is not a truly effective solution at all, and it is a cop out from implementing long-term solutions.

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A Ward 8 resident, Joey O, recently asked me about this topic.  Here is what I answered him:

The issue of violence, particularly that of violence among youth, has always been one that has been very important to me. It is an area where I feel strongly that we have the answers, but we need the political will to champion and implement the solutions.

A little background:  I am a criminal defence lawyer (though I have not practiced for some years) with a degree in Criminology.  I have volunteered with youth-in-custody, and have studied this issue extensively.
The real solution to gun violence is a long-term one.  While I feel that no one in Toronto needs to walk around with a gun, I don’t believe that banning guns will be an effective solution.  After all, we ban drugs and they still make their way into our communities.  The real solution, as supported by years of studies and reports, is to address the roots of violence.  Safe and reliable housing, engaging after-school programs in music, sports, arts, and culture, and meaningful opportunities for the future, are the most effective means of reducing violence among youth.  (See Roots of Youth Violence, by Justice Roy McMurty and Dr. Alvin Curling.)  We have known this to be true for decades, yet we allow inequality to grow in our city.  This is why the province’s cancellation of the mere $500,000 grant to Sistema Toronto, an after-school program that teaches musical instruments to children in vulnerable communities, is such a shameful decision.
This is not to say that there should be no responsibility or accountability.  However, the gap between what our children have access to when their parents have the means, versus how few opportunities children have when their parents have very limited income, is staggering.
I also believe that we need  better and more support for parents whose children are at risk of getting involved with gangs or those whose children may suffer from mental health disorders which, in rare cases, may lead to violence.
Finally, not all gun violence and certainly not all violence is tied to youth or to poverty.   We know very little, for example, about the two mass killings that took place in Toronto over the last 6 months (the van attack in North York and the shooting on the Danforth).  Different situations may need different responses.  And, in many cases, stricter gun laws, with tighter restrictions/ checks/ and prohibitions on the resale of guns, will reduce the number of guns owned illegally or the number of guns possessed by one person.  I believe that we must constantly re-examine these laws and how guns are imported into or sold within Canada in order to close gaps that allow for a flow of guns.

More Fair Elections

Our First Past the Post System often results in elections that do not reflect the choice of most residents.  There is simply no need to have a system that allows a candidate to win with only 20% of the vote.  As a City Councillor, I will support ranked ballots or another reasonable alternative that will allow us to have elections that are more fair, and City Councillors that better serve our needs.

Have Your Say!