Councillor Josh Matlow

InsideToronto: ‘First day of school’ for several first-time councillors

By DAVID NICKLE, InsideToronto

Published on Tuesday November 9, 2010

It was the “first day of school” Tuesday for some of the 14 newly-elected city councillors getting ready to take office in December.

Toronto City Hall opened its doors to the new councillors, who will soon join 30 incumbent councillors and Mayor Rob Ford in governing the City of Toronto for the next four years.

While returning councillors come back with a pretty good idea about how things work at City Hall, for the newly-elected councillors everything is new.

“It really does feel like the first day of school,” said Josh Matlow, who will be taking Ward 22 Councillor Michael Walker’s seat on council in December. “We’re all meeting each other, and hoping for our own success as new councillors but also being successful for our city. So everyone’s working on building positive relationships.”

Like other new councillors, Matlow is looking ahead at an agenda that will be dominated by Mayor Rob Ford’s election platform – everything from contracting out services like garbage collection to repealing the vehicle registration and land transfer tax.

Matlow maintained that he would be aiming to take matters on an issue-by-issue basis. There might be a “conversation” about eliminating the vehicle registration tax and contracting out garbage.

“But we can’t just talk about spending or cuts – we’ve got to talk about how much money we’re going to have in our coffers,” he said.

Matlow said he’s so far had fairly little cooperation from outgoing councillor Walker, in managing the transition.

That’s not the case with Mike Layton, son of federal NDP leader Jack Layton, who was Joe Pantalone’s chosen successor in Ward 19 (Trinity-Spadina).

Layton said he’s been getting good advice and help from Pantalone.

“He’s got a lot of knowledge as to what’s happening at City Hall and on the ground,” said Layton. “I’ll continue to seek his advice on the issues.”

In the meantime, Layton said he’s hoping he can find some common ground with the city’s new fiscally-conservative mayor – despite their obvious political differences.

“I saw a really early indication of flexibility with the streetcars – I think (backing off the promise to remove streetcars and replace them with buses on downtown streets) was a really good decision on the mayor-elect’s part,” he said. “He said, ‘we talked about it in the campaign, it was one of the things that got kicked around but it probably wouldn’t work in practice. I represent a ward that has four major streetcar routes through it and those are major arteries for people getting to work. He reflected on what he said and has determined maybe that’s not the path to go.”

As to what promises of Ford’s he might work to help implement, Layton was stumped.

“Off the top of my head, I’m not exactly sure,” he said, before saying he generally supported subways, which Ford has promised to construct in Scarborough.

“Well that’s the kind of thinking I’d like to see,” he said. “I think we have some of it with Transit City, though, so I’d like to push that plan.”



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