Q&A With Your Ward 1 Candidates – Part 2 of 4

Good evening,

According to the Markham Votes website, the role of a Ward Councillor is to represent residents from a specific ward.  Ward Councillors also have a responsibility to represent the public, as well as consider the well-being and interests of the municipality.

In Part 2 of our series, tonight’s question allows candidates to outline their main priorities if elected. All responses received are posted below and were limited to 250 words.

Question 2:
Please name your top 3 priorities.

Caryn Bergmann:
1) Listening to residents.

My top priority is to represent the needs and concerns of my community, and find solutions.

Furthermore, I endeavour not just to listen to your concerns, but actively seek comprehensive input from residents when it comes to major decisions. Promoting engagement opportunities is essential in this, as residents MUST be aware these events exist so that they can contribute.

2) Protecting our environment.

This is not just a priority of my candidacy, but a core value in my life. I feel very strongly about the importance of protecting our environment to sustain a liveable future for our children.

Climate change is real. We’ve seen it begin to already have drastic effects on our weather – intense storms have increased in severity and frequency. We must do everything we can to mitigate these effects before it’s too late, and ensure we are adequately prepared for the challenges that are to come.

3) Balanced growth.

Thornhill is facing challenging times. The multiple developments being proposed will ultimately double the population of our community. These developments need to be thoroughly scrutinized and evaluated, and fully reflect our needs before approval.

Is there adequate infrastructure to support this growth, including roads, water systems, community centres, parks, and schools?

Is there sufficient consideration being given for our aging population who have raised families here to remain a part of our community as their living requirements evolve?

We need to anticipate, not react, and ensure we are properly planning for the future.

Keith Irish:
I actually have five.  They are:  addressing gridlock, ensuring the city provides reliable services that residents both need and want, making necessary investments in public infrastructure, advocating for the extension of the Yonge Street Subway and ensuring our tax dollars are well spent.

Although I am an optimist by nature, I know these won’t all be addressed overnight.  There are no quick and easy solutions.

That is why my platform includes items that I believe are achievable in the short term.  Each relates to the five overarching issues. 

They are: 

  • A reduction in the transit fare Ward 1 residents pay to board a bus that connects to the TTC route network.
  • A re-examination of the effectiveness of HOV lanes on Yonge Street in light of new development that has occurred since they were put in place.
  • Genuine property tax relief for those family members and friends providing in-home care for seniors and those with disabilities.
  • Independent traffic and infrastructure studies for land development proposals or a legal defense fund for ratepayer groups to legitimately challenge a development application.
  • A rapid response team of city-hired summer students to quickly respond to complaints by cutting the grass of unkempt and empty homes with the cost added to the homeowner’s property tax bill.

Ricardo Mashregi:
I have more than three priorities and here they are in no particular order.

First, Markham has to do more to control traffic through residential neighbourhoods. The policy of York Region is basically to allow traffic to go anywhere and everywhere. In my part of Thornhill we have fought this policy at the City level to protect our community and our school kids from the danger and disruption of non-stop traffic during rush hours. Part of protecting the quality of life for the people of Thornhill, in particular because of our geographic location, is to keep traffic off of local roads. In the larger scheme of things I will continue with my work, to ensure that the Yonge subway extension is fully funded.

Second, we need to continue to press the City for improved flood protection for those areas of Thornhill that are still at risk. In my area we advocated before Council for many years after the major flood of 2005 and now have the same level of flood protection as newly built subdivisions. However, there are still sections of Thornhill that are subject to flooding and require a strong advocate on Council. 

Third, Markham needs to do better in providing affordable recreation and cultural activities to all segments of our community. We have parks that are under-utilized and offer very little to our residents. We are a highly diversified community, with many cultures and demographics represented, and we need to do a better job of meeting their needs.

Barry Nelson:
There are 7 complex priorities for Ward 1:

Developments – that must stick to city policies and the official plan

Traffic Flow – using safer and efficient transportation and control systems

Infrastructure – using emerging technologies to avoid flooding, allow better transportation and manage snow

Smart City Communication – new ways to connect residents with the information and services they need, including regular face-to-face meeting opportunities at our community centre that leads to

Community – cultural celebration of diversity, recreation programs and the arts,

Environmental Green Space and Heritage – conservation and preservation

Value – efficient use of City resources and tax dollars

Hilary Neubauer:

  1.  Continuation. I want to step in to this role, and protect the legacy of our current Councillor. Her work has set Thornhill on a good path, making this a place we can all be proud of. I intend to follow in her example.

2.  Careful Planning. New and infill development is going to continue. It needs very close attention. Planning, financial and scientific analysis, and consideration for our existing residents must be priorities before any work begins. I am not anti-development, I seek to protect what makes Thornhill valuable, not sell it off.

3.  The Environment. Climate change and exceptional weather events are going to continue to have an impact on us. Markham does a good job in waste diversion, infrastructure upgrades, and protection of green spaces, I will support and commit to environmental protections, and the expansion of current practices.

Howard Shore:
1.         Traffic and transit.

Extension of the Yonge-Finch subway station to at least Highway 7 is a critical priority.  We take pride in living here and expect clean air, safe streets, access to opportunity and ease of movement.   We need to treat transit as an essential investment in our future.  How we move people and things affect all aspects of our lives – environmentally, socially and economically.

2.         Infrastructure, including protecting Thornhill homes from flooding.

Flooding has a devastating effect on families and their homes. Thornhill’s pipes are old and small.  The size of most storm sewers in Thornhill are designed to withstand the worst storm we may see on an average of once every 2 to 5 years – far less than in newer areas of Markham.

Thornhill has some of the oldest power utility grids with more overhead power lines and backyard connections than elsewhere in Markham.  This needs to be addressed.

The age and quality of facilities here in Thornhill, including the amenities in our local parks is a serious concern.  Thornhill can quite easily become the ‘have not’ part of Markham.

3.         Slowing the tide of development.

Some developers would have us believe that high density development will create the ‘tipping point’ for new infrastructure – roads, sewers, transit, etc.  That hasn’t proven to be true.  Approving more development without having infrastructure in place first and at locations which common sense tells you will create additional traffic headaches is simply unfair to and shows disregard for existing neighbourhoods and the residents who live there.  That attitude has to change.

Peter Wong:
1)    Economic prosperity

2)    Road Safety

3)    Affordability and livability for aging population

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post where we will present our candidates’ responses to our third question.

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