Councillor Josh Matlow

Toronto Sun: Nine councillors explore ‘middle’ ground

April 26. 2012


The one thing they agreed on is they’re going to meet again.


Nine city councillors — mostly cut from council’s political middle — met in a Bay St. boardroom Thursday to talk about what they want to see happen next at City Hall.


The group met inside the Bay St. office of the Greater Toronto Marketing Alliance, just steps from City Hall, and included Councillors Josh Colle, Karen Stintz, Josh Matlow, Ana Bailao, Mary-Margaret McMahon, Chin Lee, Gloria Lindsay Luby, John Parker and James Pasternak.


Matlow left the meeting early but the rest met behind closed doors for around two hours.


“It was just a good conversation and really introductory in nature,” Colle told reporters after the meeting. “I think we agreed on a lot of things that we’d like to start seeing some work being done on.


“We agreed there is work to be done, beyond that I think there was some broad consensus that the city’s certainly got to be open for business, it has got to be run well.”


Some major issues weren’t discussed at all. The group “parked” talk about transit and road tolls because they didn’t feel they could give it a fair conversation Thursday, Colle said. The idea of a Toronto casino also didn’t come up.


Colle said the group didn’t generate a list of ideas they would all agree to support at council.


“We had a two-hour meeting, we’re not all of a sudden going to have a platform document,” he said. “The most interesting thing in my mind is that we agreed we’re going to meet again.”


Thursday’s meeting was the first time the group of nine councillors met privately as a group. Over the last year and a half, councillors in the group have been the key votes in Mayor Rob Ford’s victories and defeats on the council floor.


Ford was at City Hall Thursday meeting separately with councillors in his inner circle asking them what ideas they would like his administration to embrace in the next two years. Councillors Mike Del Grande, Michelle Berardinetti, David Shiner and Denzil Minnan-Wong all met with Ford.


Berardinetti said she talked with Ford about starting a clean technology task force to help attract green jobs to the city. She said Ford’s staff agreed to look at her proposal.


Minnan-Wong said Ford’s administration still has work to do.


“There are still a lot of problems at City Hall,” Minnan-Wong said. “Customer service needs to be improved, we need to look at improving services, we’re going to start through a new budget cycle and we still need to do a lot of things.”


Minnan-Wong, the chairman of public works, says he wants to see his committee push to invest more in roads and a debate will be coming on what the city will be doing to meet its 70% waste diversion target.


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