October 27 2014
It was a walk in Ward 22 St. Paul’s for Josh Matlow.
Minutes after the polls closed, the incumbent city councillor was, as his campaign manager crowed to a cheering crowd at a St. Clair Ave. sports bar, “sitting comfortably with 86 per cent of the vote.”
“Rob Ford may go down as the most divisive mayor Toronto has ever had but he brought council together to fill the vacuum,” Matlow told his supporters.
In an interview with the Star, he added, “Toronto has rejected the politics of division and dishonest rhetoric and has chosen a more thoughtful new day that will focus on the city’s priorities.”
Matlow had name recognition as an incumbent on his side, having been first elected in 2010 with more than 52 per cent of the vote.
But he built his reputation as a constant critic of Ford. He also allied himself with progressive Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam of neighbouring Ward 27, Toronto Centre-Rosedale, to fight the politically appointed Ontario Municipal Board’s quasi-judicial power to overrule city planners in favour of developers.
Transit, traffic and development, three of the most talked-about issues throughout this long election campaign, also dominated in St. Paul’s.
The ward, especially in the Yonge St. corridor running from Davisville Ave. to Eglinton Ave., is a thicket of highrises, and many more are proposed without the necessary city services that residents may require.
“How do you plan a city in a thoughtful way, and how do you ensure that there’s sufficient infrastructure like transit?” he said, adding that the Yonge subway line is over capacity, especially at peak times. “Schools are another issue. The TDSB will put up signs in front of new condos saying that your kids may not be able to go to local schools and may have to be bused, which is also not good for gridlock.”
Not all those highrises are condos. In fact, despite the presence of the tony single-family home areas of Forest Hill and Rathnelly, a surprising 66 per cent of the ward residents are tenants.
That’s why Matlow introduced measures at city hall to protect tenants from unfair charges by landlords.
Two of his rivals for the seat in council, Sarfraz Khan and Bob Murphy, also made gridlock a centrepiece of their campaigns.
Khan, who said this is his first and only run at political office, proposed tolls and taxes on non-resident commuters, including a core-area “congestion charge” similar to that in London, England.
“Every single street of Toronto in the daytime is taken up by the workforce — and the majority of the workforce comes from Mississauga and Scarborough,” claimed Khan, who is in the food service business.
He also proposed a police traffic squad that would be dedicated to improving road conditions for all, including cyclists.
A third candidate, James O’Shaughnessy, did not respond to any queries about his platform from the Star.
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