Over the last 4 years it has been a privilege and an honour to serve as your City Councillor. Our communities are among the most diverse and dynamic in the City, if not the country, and I couldn't be prouder to have represented you over the last 4 years.
We have it all in our downtown Ward – the central Waterfront, vertical neighbourhoods like CityPlace and King-Spadina, the bustling Entertainment District, vibrant Chinatown and Kensington Market, the University of Toronto and the historic Grange, as well as established neighbourhoods like Harbord Village and the Annex, and the unstoppable Alexandra Park. I love our downtown neighbourhoods.
I'm writing to you today because in this fall’s municipal election, Ward boundaries are changing, and I will no longer have the opportunity to represent all of our downtown neighbourhoods. Due to population growth - Ward 20 currently has 100,000 residents while other Wards have closer to 30,000 - Ward 20 will be split into three Wards: it will become Ward 24 (north of Queen), the new Ward 20 (South of Queen and West of John) and Ward 22 (South of Queen and East of John).
Over the last year, I have agonized over the decision of where to run, given these significant changes. After many discussions with family and friends, I have decided that I will be seeking re-election in Ward 24 (North of Queen). The North and the neighbourhoods within it are home. I was born and raised in the Annex. I spent my youth and early adult years amidst the hustle and bustle of Kensington Market. My grandmother lived out her last years with Alzheimer's at the exceptional Kensington Gardens in Harbord Village. And, prior to being elected, I worked at the Stephen Lewis Foundation in one of the old garment factory buildings on Spadina in the Grange. These neighbourhoods have been my home, and at the end of the day, I couldn't imagine leaving them.
Our work in the new Ward 24 is critical. The revitalizations in Alexandra Park and 250 Davenport are entering a critical phase as they move from planning to reality. We are finally, after years of waiting, on the cusp of revitalizing the Scadding Court Community Centre and the Sanderson Library at the corner of Dundas and Bathurst. Amidst the many changes and pressures facing Kensington Market, the next four years are crucial to ensure it remains an affordable place for independent businesses and residents alike. Ensuring that we are proactively managing change, protecting heritage, and building new green spaces in the Annex, the Grange, Harbord Village and Huron-Sussex requires all hands on deck. And, we need to do this all while continuing to invest in the affordable housing, cultural facilities, and social infrastructure that make our communities liveable and welcoming for all.
I also love our neighbourhoods in the South. Leaving them is painful. They are vibrant and exciting, and with the right leadership, will continue on the current path to becoming truly liveable vertical communities, full of rich diversity and artistic and cultural life.
It's not lost on me that many critical projects in the South are still in progress. Waterfront revitalization is underway and thriving, and the Bathurst Quay neighbourhood is finally poised for significant public investment in parks and social infrastructure. In CityPlace more than $100 million in public investments are currently building the long promised schools, childcare, park improvements, and Canoe Landing community centre. The Bentway is already transforming part of downtown, and Rail Deck Park is on the path to becoming a reality. In King-Spadina our work to build a liveable and vibrant mixed-use neighbourhood is ongoing with the City of Toronto YMCA and a new childcare under construction, the John Street Cultural Corridor scheduled to break ground this month, and the King Street Pilot finally putting people and transit first.
While I will be running in the election to represent the north, the continuity of the many significant city-building projects in the South must be a critical priority for us all. It is for that reason that I am endorsing two exceptional women to carry on that work. City Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam, a city-builder who needs no introduction, will be running in Ward 22 (south of Queen and east of John), and local city-builder and Council Candidate Ausma Malik, will be running in the new Ward 20 (south of Queen and west of John). Both Kristyn and Ausma are experienced, tenacious, courageous, and progressive. I am confident that they will serve our communities well, and continue the work to build our neighbourhoods, and a city for all. I will be supporting them to carry on our work in the South, and I hope you will as well.
Friends, downtown Toronto is at a critical point. As we continue to grow we must ensure that we are building liveable and equitable neighbourhoods. That work – whether it's building new green spaces or affordable housing – is nowhere close to finished. I look forward to continuing this work together.
My sincerest thanks,