As we indicated in our recent blog post, DECA posed the same questions to every Ward 19 City Councillor candidate with a published email address (on the city election website). We are publishing their replies in the order that we receive them.
Meet: Matthew Kellway
1. What makes you the best person to represent the Danforth East area?
My experience as a community advocate and elected representative for the new Ward 19 makes me the best person to represent the area. I have deep roots in the community, having lived and volunteered here for 20 years,and I have a profound understanding and appreciation for the people and issues present in all of our neighbourhoods in Ward 19.
As a community advocate, I founded and chaired organizations focused on protecting the natural environment and addressing climate change. I served as Chair and dedicated myself to Out of the Cold at St. Aidan’s Church because no soul should suffer without shelter. I co-chaired the Upper Beach Refugee Resettlement Committee because I believe our community should be a place where those who need a new home are welcome. From Peanut Lacrosse to Bantam hockey, I have coached, managed and supported kids’ recreation and fought for more recreation facilities in our ward.
As the Member of Parliament for Beaches – East York, I advocated for our community in the House of Commons when funding cuts threatened our environment and well-being. As Urban Affairs and Infrastructure critic, I engaged community leaders across our city to put forward an agenda for all cities. Our action plan called for public infrastructure to be built into our neighbourhoods – from transit to housing to childcare – to ensure that we have a resilient city and a prosperity more equally shared.
I have a strong understanding of urban issues and the challenges of our neighbourhoods and I am keen to foster collaboration – with neighbours, community leaders, other councillors, elected officials and the Mayor to ensure that our city and our ward are caring, prosperous, sustainable and inclusive.
2. What do you think is the most pressing issue for this area, and what is your plan to address it?
The most pressing issue in our area is keeping all our neighbourhoods affordable, accessible and sustainable for current and future generations. The lack of affordable housing, accessible and affordable child care and transit is eroding the diversity and liveability of our neighbourhoods and driving families, artists and entrepreneurs out.
Organizations such as DECA and our BIAs are doing important work connecting people, animating public spaces and investing in our local economy- making this a great place to live. But we have to find new ways to address the affordability crisis, both locally and city-wide, to keep our community a place where people of different incomes, ages and abilities, languages and cultural backgrounds can flourish.
I will work to:
- Advance the city’s affordable housing strategy, using city lands to build more new units and inclusionary zoning to require affordable units in new developments.
- Speed up the city’s child care growth plan, to build more spaces and lower parent fees in all neighbourhoods.
- Increase rent subsidies and advocate for meaningful rent controls.
- Keep recreation user fees and permits affordable.
- Improve the reliability and affordability of existing transit (end short-turning of streetcars and bunching of buses) and invest in new transit infrastructure with an immediate focus on the downtown Relief Line.
3. Who do you support for mayor, and why?
Speaking with residents about our ward over the past several months, I have heard the pride that residents have in Beaches East York. I’ve also heard their frustration with the lack of progress on important issues like transit, childcare and housing. Tackling these issues will be priorities for me, regardless of who is mayor.
I believe a Councillor’s primary duty is to serve the residents of their ward and the City, and to be accountable to those who elected them. Too often we see mayors use influence or inducements to secure the votes and loyalty of councillors. I do not want to be bound by, or benefit from an endorsement, and I will not be supporting a mayoral candidate in this election.
I am committed to work collaboratively and productively with our community, my council colleagues and whichever candidate wins the mayor’s seat. I’m determined to move this ward and city forward, and ensure it’s a city that’s responsive and welcoming of everyone – a place where everyone thrives. That is my commitment.
4. DECA took the position that changing the ward boundaries during the election was undemocratic. What do you think about that?
I wholeheartedly agree and appreciate DECA taking such a strong position. I think Doug Ford’s assault on our city has been deeply anti-democratic and many Ward 19 residents agree. I spent a number of weeks working with our MPP Rima Berns-McGown canvassing residents with a petition to Queen’s Park opposing Bill 5.
The 47 Ward structure was determined through an extensive consultation process and found to demonstrate “effective representation,” and was upheld by the Ontario Municipal Board and Divisional Court. It bothers me greatly that our representative model has now been compromised.
I firmly believe that the province should not determine our governance structure – the people of Toronto should.
Worse still, Ford’s Bill 5 compounds a pre-existing democratic deficit. I am concerned that fewer Councillors could result in less scrutiny of important issues, rushed decision-making and a loss of meaningful consultation with residents. And, worse, greater influence by developers and private interests.
I will work tirelessly to ensure that Ward 19 receives strong and collaborative representation. I will be present in all parts of this ward and I will be a leader on City Council to ensure that we implement innovative governance to bring council and city services closer to the community. I will work to ensure that in the interim 311 is fully staffed and that the East York Civic Centre provides a full suite of city services, so that people can get their municipal matters resolved here in the east end close to home.
5. We expect that our area will see a lot of development in the next four years. What do you think about that?
Our city is growing and changing and so will our community. New development is important and can revitalize neighbourhoods, create new employment and more affordable housing. Planning for this change must be collaborative with community at the centre of the process.
I support our official plan policies which focuses development on our avenues and along transit corridors. Redevelopment on Danforth and O’Connor Avenues will bring new investment in our public spaces and new housing opportunities. The Eglinton LRT expansion and new GO service along the rail corridor will bring more intense development. It is vital that we are engaged as a community to shape our future communities.
The pace of development has often outstripped the growth of public infrastructure and services and have not been integrated with development. Neighbourhoods have been left short of adequate transit, schools, parks, child care and recreation facilities. I will make sure that community service plans are part of development approvals and community service agreements offer opportunities for local employment during construction.
We must also make sure that new housing offers a range of affordability and types. Our city must adopt new “inclusionary zoning” that requires developers to include affordable rental and ownership units for both low and middle income families in all development projects. And it should be protected for the long-term.
New development can undermine the viability of our main streets. Assembly of land and increasing property values can drive up rents beyond the means of independent storefront businesses. I believe the city needs new policies to keep rents affordable for local businesses and protect second floor commercial office space. Our BIAs are doing a great job promoting and helping our local businesses, but they need more strategic support from the city’s Economic Development department to address larger economic forces and changing retail trends
Our residential areas are intended to remain stable and infill development should be compatible and preserve the character of the neighbourhood. I will also push to protect our local heritage assets through the planning process. The Danforth and other neighbourhoods, like Sunshine Valley, Dawes Road and Beach have important history that should be captured and preserved through thorough study and community engagement.
6. How will you contribute to a more diverse and representative Council?
While I am not a member of any equity-seeking group, I believe in ensuring that all voices are heard, all communities are seen, all perspectives considered and accounted for. People of all ages, genders, abilities, religions, races, countries of origin, sexual orientation should be well-served and represented by their councillor and in their city.
I believe in the importance of creating communities where everyone is welcome and I recognize the responsibility of elected representatives to be leaders in creating communities where this is the case. Recently, I served as the co-chair of the Upper Beach Refugee Resettlement Group where we helped welcome a Syrian refugee family to the area and help them build a life here, as so many of us have.
In my time in office as the Member of Parliament, I worked to support local leaders, build community engagement and create space for others. For example, for International Women’s Day, I worked with strong women leaders to create events –hosted by women and for creative women, young women, women of colour and indigenous women. I also created an award for a Beaches – East York youth of the month to recognize and celebrate the extraordinary things that young people are doing each and every day.
I also worked with the Bangladeshi community to organize events of great significance culturally and politically, including International Mother Language Day. Over time I integrated other cultural voices – eg. Afghan, Celtic etc. – into the IMLD celebrations to overcome the isolation of communities and allow for the sharing of culture, experience and heritage. I also put forward a unanimous consent motion in the House of Commons for federal recognition of International Mother Language Day as well as a Private Member’s Bill. I travelled to Bangladesh, as a Member of Parliament but self-funded, to commemorate the loss of over 1,100 lives in the Rana Plaza collapse and to show respect for the people and the homeland of this large, vibrant and important constituency in our ward.
Finally, I support equity criteria for city-appointed positions (boards, commissions etc) so that at least half of all appointments are women and ensure that our appointments are representative the full diversity of our city.