‘The city could move forward much quicker’: two Ward 20 candidates talk housing, transportation

10 November 2023 / by Met Radio

The Ward 20 byelection continues as signs go up and mail-in deadlines approach.

With election day coming in three weeks, there are 23 candidates on the ballot. The last day for mail in votes is today Nov. 10 at 4:30 p.m. For anyone who missed the mail in window, voting cards for eligible voters will be delivered starting on Nov. 14.

Despite the candidates being announced in October, signs were only allowed to be put on Nov. 5. Signs are now placed all over Ward 20 from Kingston to Mason Road from all of the candidates.

Two of those candidates have long political, community and advocacy careers in the city. Kevin Rupasinghe, one of the 23 candidates, ran in the last general election placing third with 3,208 votes to previous Ward 20 Councillor Gary Crawfords 8,216.

With safety being a platform of Rupasinghe, he has a history with and helped found one advocacy group in the city around safety on transportation and in the city. He has participated with Progress Toronto, Cycle Toronto and TTC Riders. He also helped found the group Danforth Kingston 4 All, a group that wants the area “to be safer, more inviting, and more accessible for all regardless of their method of travel.”

“I’ve seen how political leadership in other parts of the city has moved forward on this issue and actually helped neighbours and friends and family members of people in our community that are being killed,” says Rupasingh. “The city could move forward much quicker. It would help give people the confidence that they could walk, bike, take transit or leave the car at home for some of their local trips, whether it’s getting the kids to school or going to the pharmacy.”

Safety in the city is not the only platform Ruspasingh is running on. Affordable housing and transit are two parts of his platform he has a focus on. He says that “issues around housing and transit” are “complex and intertwined.” He says that the infrastructure and cost is an important factor for people to choose where they live.

“Housing and transit, they affect people here in many different ways. These are obviously very complex and intertwined issues. People choose where they live based on the infrastructure they have available to them,” says Rupasingh. “Some people have shaped their lives around having the Scarborough line three available for them, because that’s how they get to work and how their kids get to university. Now that that line is derailed, we’re going to be on shuttle buses for 10 years, because our previous council did not make a plan for what’s going to happen when this line shuts down.”

Rupasingh is not alone in this election when it comes to the issues around safety, housing and transit. Corey David is a candidate in this byelection who also ran in the last general election. David says to fix the housing crisis his focus is on “revitalising public and social housing.” He says that the other major issue is with whom profits from the crisis.

“We are in a housing crisis. And people are paying $2,000 rents for a two bedroom apartment; that’s just insane,” says David. “[We need to] confront the people that are making a lot of money off of people’s need for a place to live. It amounts to me [as] extortion. I think we need to address what’s going on with the system and the way it works. And who has the means to benefit from the needs of others. As a government we are responsible, we should be responsible for the people we represent. And we should be trying to protect them from predators.”

In the 2022 general election, David finished in 6th place with 615 votes. Before running for political office, David was involved with Community Living and the Toronto District School Board working with and supporting people with intellectual disabilities. David first got involved in politics seven years ago where he says he “organized with them [by] running educational meditation, demonstrations, strike support, intervening in political bodies.”

David’s other major platform after housing is transportation. He says that the “congestion is insane” and that it will take “major intervention” to get it fixed. David says that his suggestion for transit is to invest in alternative ways around the city.

“What we can do in the meantime is to try and facilitate better movement through the city and try to create more hubs around the city especially in Scarborough,” says David. “There should be more focus on that. As well as getting alternative ways to get around the city like biking. Setting up more trails in Scarborough and getting more bike paths. There is no bike path on Kingston Road past Warden and Victoria Park, and I don’t know why that is. The same thing with the further east in the ward as well.”

At time of writing, CJMT contacted all the candidates but only heard back from two. The station will be following the byelection to allow other candidates further chances to speak. For more information on their platforms and policies for both Rupasingh and David can be found on their respective websites.

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