Discover more from The Etobicoke Voice
City Hall Vs. Unheard Residents
April 20, 2023
What a week, its gone by so fast that I had to remind myself 3 times today that it was Thursday! Besides meetings, school events, and more meetings, I have been writing rough article outlines for posts. But as news comes super fast in this province, I did find myself looking at new reports and announcements more than writing and my plans for this week kept changing!
I have a bad habit, I am interested in all aspects of politics and all aspects of making life better for others which leads to a desire to report on everything all at once. But of course that only leads to getting nothing done at all! I tried to commit my thoughts to paper but it ended up that all I had to say was instead going up on Twitter. So tonight I will write that story and tomorrow I will return to community updates.
For many people Twitter is only a place of trolls and extreme politics and I don’t blame people for wanting to stay far away from it, as well as other social media platforms. That said, I have been using that app for good things for the last couple of years and have met many great people who also are concerned about Toronto and the people who call it home. The people I have met are advocates and local political figures, some are just citizens who love being in the know in local politics, while others are those who following City Hall is a full-time job! I have shared my thoughts, learned to stand up for my opinions, and have found a voice I was once scared to use in public. Without the people I have met, the friends I have made, there would be no Etobicoke Voice today. It would still be an idea in one of my many notebooks with circles around it and notes saying to try it out, one day! Confidence is something that has taken a long time but now I know that the city can be better and there are so many people working to make it livable for everyone. Being quiet is not an option because I want my kids to have a better city, one that is a good place for everyone!
I have discovered that the way things are done in Etobicoke are not always the same as the city core and while I once felt that we were different and that was why, overtime I have come to understand that is so far from the actual truth. The reality is the problems here are just better hidden and when you suggest otherwise some elected officials and many community members will tell you that you are wrong to think such a thing. I am not trying to upset anyone who reads this and I do truly love Etobicoke and all I want is to make our community better for all who live here. Whether you have been here all your life or just arrived recently, we all should feel our opinions matter and our concerns are respected! I have heard a local councillor say many times that what the downtown think is different from “his” part of Etobicoke but that is in reality only speaking for a very small group who do believe in sticking to the status quo.
However, families in Etobicoke who are dealing with food insecurity will not agree. Families struggling to pay rent will tell you they are feeling the crunch of those dealing with rent costs in other parts of the city too. Homelessness is an issue but it is more hidden, you may not see it but we do have ravines, stairwells, parking lots, and couch surfing that happens nightly. What we do not have as much are the services to help those in need as close as in the core as some of our local councillors fight to keep services like shelters out of the west-end. Life for many around the city is hard; in future posts I will go into more detail but tonight I just want to talk about these in more general as there is always a root to systematic problems. In Etobicoke we have a root problem that has broken a community connection we had many years ago. We could have a closer more caring community one where advocacy is a regular thing and one where people are excited to get involved. A community where residents are comfortable to make suggestions and more organizations work together for a common cause!
The root of the issue is representation at city hall and the fact that up until the election last fall those who represented Etobicoke at City Council treated those representing downtown as the enemy. They made decisions based on very few in their wards who were able to argue the loudest and didn’t want any change just like the councillors.
This has been going on for years but over the last decade it become worse each and every year. Of course things do not stay the same forever and demographics change, this is best seen by the outcome in Ward 3 - Etobicoke Lakeshore!
The arrival of Amber Morley running in 2018 brought a new way of thinking about local politics in south Etobicoke. She brought new ideas and listened to her community and she started to make residents believe that things could become better. While she didn’t win the first time, in 2022 she not only beat the incumbent Mark Grimes, she was the only candidate in the city to unseat an existing council member! Six months later Councillor Morley is working with other new councillors at city hall to bring a more thoughtful view on issues to help direct the city on ways to become more liveable while at the same time working hard in the ward on issues like complete streets and affordable housing. She has opened up communication with residents and is hosting open meetings and town halls. This is something that residents in other wards expect from their councillors but here in Etobicoke it is new and exciting! (FYI she has a Town Hall next week on April 25 which will be hybrid with in-person at the Civic Centre and also online - I will provide more details tomorrow).
Many people around the city ask me why there is no change in Etobicoke Centre and the reason is simple; no new blood and no one local taking the steps to run a serious challenge against the incumbent, Stephen Holyday. While the parties are organized at both the provincial and federal levels, locally you are on your own! It takes a long time to build up name recognition and most people are working full time, some have families to care for, and all have bills to pay. These issues lead many good possible candidates to believe a campaign for council is an impossible dream. Plus there is also the reality of life in our area, many who don’t think exactly like their neighbours keep quiet. Residents do not want to be seen as an outcast in the community. It sometimes takes a lot of time to find out that there are others in the area that think like you but it doesn’t happen overnight and takes a lot of courage as no one wants to be at odds with their neighbours. Those of us who are in more open areas who feel okay to talk politics find that most have given up or are to busy with daily life to do anything about making change. They just want someone trustworthy representing them well at council, someone who will listen and find solutions to problems in the area. They are starting to wonder if that person is even real or just an idea that no longer exists.
But we shouldn’t feel like we need to just accept status quo and move on until one day when maybe some one comes to shake up a local election. We have a right to call out when things are said at city council that we do not agree with and this is really needed actions when we hear a phrase like “that is said is what residents in our neighbourhoods think”, no one should be placing words into our mouths when we are not able to speak out in the room for ourselves! If we were all consulted from time to time then at least there would be more knowledgeable answers made on the behalf of those in Etobicoke.
I have an idea.
We may not have formal meetings and town halls but I do suggest that anyone who wants these types of community meetings to reach out to me. I will be happy to organize one to at least at first be held virtually, to allow us all to vent of course but also to find common ground and work towards planning to advocate for what we really see as needs in the community. While I talk a lot about Ward 2, if you are in 1 or 3 and want to join then you are also more than welcome! The more areas of Etobicoke we come from, the better view of our part of the city we will have! We need representation, we have a diverse community and everyone has concerns and worries about things that are important to each individual and so lets chat and get to know each other!
Please email TheEtobicokeVoice@gmail.com if interested and once we have a workable number of participants I will send out a poll to find a date and time that works for everyone!
Tomorrow I will send a more typical post that will include some upcoming events and links to reports that were in the news this week. I’ll go through some local issues that have been brought to my attention and will include a guest post about a program at a local high school. We will also take a look at an updated list of candidates for mayor and see who is saying what in the media. I will also provide more details about the Civics 101 program that will be included in the new paid subscription level. All posts like this will always remain free. Paid members will get some new extras which will be courses that will be aimed at those of you who want to learn more about City Hall and municipal politics, how it operates both at staff and council levels, voter reform, and how to make change. The classes will go into more detail then anyone ever learned at school!
Thank you for subscribing and showing me that so many others really do care about Etobicoke and want to make this great area even better for everyone who lives here!