Canada's St. Paul’s West (Ward 21) city council candidates speak
Friday, November 3, 2006
On November 13, Torontonians will be heading to the polls to vote for their ward's councillor and for mayor. Among Toronto's ridings is St. Paul's West (Ward 21). One candidate responded to Wikinews' requests for an interview. This ward's candidates include John Adams, Tony Corpuz, Joe Mihevc (incumbent), and John Sewell.
For more information on the election, read Toronto municipal election, 2006.
Joe Mihevc (incumbent) 
54-year-old Joe Mihevc is the incumbent for Ward 21, St. Paul's West, Toronto, Canada.
Q: Describe the three most important issues in your campaign.
- A: The three most important issues are the environment, transportation and the local economy. As Toronto plans for its future, we need to increase our waste diversion and recycling programs. We need to maintain and protect our green spaces. We need to enhance sustainable energy options. We need to reduce gridlock and smog in order to improve our air quality. And, we need an efficient, affordable, reliable transit system to keep the City and local economy moving.
- In addressing each of these issues, I am convinced that we cannot make decisions for today only; we need to have vision and hope for a brighter future. As Councillor, I have worked, and will continue to work, on each of these issues in many separate and specific projects throughout the Ward and City. For a full record of the positive results of my work on these issues, go to www.joemihevc.ca
- All three of the issues come together in one local project – the rejeuvenation of St. Clair Ave W, which I address in the next question.
Q: What one election issue do you feel is most relevant to your ward in this election?
- A: The majority of residents have indicated to me that they want St. Clair, the Avenue at the centre of our community life in the south of Ward 21, to provide them with reliable public transit, an efficient flow of traffic, and sidewalks that draw neighbours out for a stroll or to shop locally. This is the vision towards which we are working! With streetscape and transit improvements, St. Clair West will continue to be pedestrian-friendly, and I will continue to encourage the growing patio culture for restaurants and cafes. To improve public transit, I support a dedicated lane that will allow streetcars to pass unobstructed along the street. In terms of reliability, we are getting the equivalent of an above ground subway service – the dream of so many neighbourhoods across the city! How can I not support that as the local Councillor, responsible for enhancing the Ward which I represent? Current levels of transit service are already insufficient here and will become more so as St. Clair increases in density and popularity. Improved public transit is vital to preserving the neighbourhood character of St. Clair, while moving us into the future.
Q: Why have you chosen to involve yourself in the political process?
- A: Great communities, like great cities, are built from shared dreams that address shared needs. I have been a Councillor for the last 15 years, and I am proud to have helped guide the growth and improvement of our community. In the last few years, we have seen the neighbourhoods in St. Paul's West increase in recognition, reputation and property value. This has not occurred by chance. I have worked hard to build successful, creative and vibrant relationships amongst local, corporate and government stakeholders in order to stimulate local renewal and make it happen! We are on the cusp of a renaissance on St. Clair that will reap tremendous rewards for small business and residents. Millions of dollars of City investment in street and transit improvements; support for local Business Improvement Areas; the Wychwood Barns Park; the upgrading of our play parks, the Cedarvale Ravine and the Kay Gardner Beltline Park; all this work is making Ward 21 a wonderful place to live and raise families. I have a vision of community and City growth - one that is sustainable, civil and inclusive. I enjoy working with people who have a passion for this community and City. This is why I am involved in the political process.
Q: Why do you want to represent this particular ward on council?
- A: The creativity, passion and positive community spirit of residents and businesses in Ward 21, St. Paul's West, continues to inspire me. It has made my work as city Councillor, a real pleasure. Together, we are transforming our neighbourhood and our City into one that works - because we are addressing our shared needs, hopes and aspirations, in a fair and equitable manner.
Q: How are you currently involved in the community?
- A: My recent involvements include:
- Salsa on St. Clair, a street festival to showcase both Hillcrest Village businesses & Latin culture;
- Melitaville Festival to support community engagement in Davenport-Shaw neighbourhood
- St. Clair Art Walk to showcase local artists with Wychwood Heights businesses
- transformation of the TTC Wychwood Car Barns into a Park to provide valuable green space, recreation, live/work :* space for artists, and community space
- protected banks of Cedarvale Ravine which led to a City-wide ravine protection by-law
- annual Spring Clean-up Days in Cedarvale and Nordheimer Ravines, and Kay Gardner Beltline Park
- support for the West Toronto Initiative for Solar Energy (WISE) to purchase solar systems for the roofs of interested community members, reduce household-produced emissions and contribute to sustainable energy.
- a home for the heritage Tollkeepers Cottage at Bathurst and Davenport; and, restoration of the historic Connaught Gates
- fought the demolition of rental units at 310/320 Tweedsmuir Ave, which led to new City zoning laws restricting condo conversions of rental housing stock
- stopped the McDonald's drive-thru on St. Clair which led to City by-law prohibiting drive-thrus near residentially-zoned areas
- improved playground equipment in Graham Park, Marian Engel Park, Humewood Park, Cawthra Park, and park infrastructure in the Kay Gardner Beltline and Cedarvale Park;
- Wall murals by local artists to improve neglected lands
- the merger of Upper Village (Toronto) and Upper Village (York) BIAs
- Forest Hill Village BIA's "Village Vision" began to renew the face of the retail village
- the Hillcrest Yard employee parking lot in order to reduce on-street parking problems on Davenport and in the Hillcrest and Wychwood Park neighbourhoods
- new signalized intersections at Burton/Kilbarry and at Ossington/Acores to make crossing safer for students, seniors and all pedestrians
- extension of the Allen Rd. noise wall, south from Fairleigh Ave. to Eglinton Ave. West
- renewed streetscape along MacPherson and Bridgman Avenues
- time-based TTC transfers and 4 additional off-street parking lots on St. Clair, to boost shop local campaign
- a new accessible elevator at Eglinton West TTC station
- the Commercial Façade Improvement Program
Q: What does Toronto mean to you?
- A: The diversity within Toronto makes it not only a unique place in the world, but a unique place in history. Never has there been, nor is there elsewhere, the meeting, merging and living together of so many cultures that IS Toronto. Diversity truly is our strength. And, in as much as we are able to honour that diversity, Toronto will be a great city.
- Toronto is also a City where the vulnerable and marginalized have a voice and the commitment is strong to making sure their needs are met. This is our greatest security: each citizen knowing that they have a role, a place, and positive contribution to make to community life.
Q: Which council decision (since the 2003 election) do you feel the city/your ward should be most proud of, and which was least desirable?
- A: Ward 21 was well served by city Council. No adverse decisions were made.
- Ward 21 was especially well served by Council's decision to invest so much in our area: in so many of our parks and the Cedarvale Ravine; on street and transit improvements.