Over 35 people addressed City Council with passion and conviction which was great to see. I thought it important for people to have access to my speech. I hope you like it.
"Mayor Tory, members of council, it is an honour to appear before you as an applicant for the interim councillor position for ward 28
I have been a resident and community volunteer in ward 28 for most of my life. I was born and raised in Regent Park with my 12 siblings and I live in Cabbagetown. This ward has always been my home.
I currently serve as the Executive Director of Cabbagetown Youth Centre, and should you select me to serve the remainder of Councillor McConnell’s term, I would return to that role following the election of a new Councillor next year.
I’ve been fortunate and privileged to serve ward 28 for much of my 30 year career with the City of Toronto, Parks, Forestry and Recreation Division. As the Manager of Operations and Manager of Community Engagement, I participated in the resolution of many challenging community issues.
I developed strong relationships with ward 28 community partners, agencies, police liaison boards, boards of directors, Business Improvement Associations, and School Boards. I understand, as best as anyone can, how City Hall works and how to serve the needs of my community.
During my time with the City of Toronto, I worked closely with Councillor Pam McConnell on many issues, capital projects and public meetings. We worked together on creating opportunities to assist children, youth, newcomers and their families in Regent Park and St. Jamestown. I supported Pam’s efforts to secure capital funds for the much needed Wellesley Community Centre. We lobbied to ensure this centre had a Daycare and Library, a first of its kind at the time. – the centre provides access to programs and city services for St. James Town Community and the surrounding neighbourhoods.
At City Hall I chaired our Division’s efforts to address the needs of the homeless and people living in poverty policies. We created initiatives like the award winning parks ambassador program which continues today.
Pam McConnell was a wonderful mentor and leader who helped me better understand how to handle complex community issues. Our discussions used to continue long after our public meetings were over.
Last April, I met Councillor McConnell as the Executive Director of the Cabbagetown Youth Centre. In spite of her poor health, we had a 2 hour discussion to develop new ways of ensuring newcomers had access to educational, recreational and health care opportunities. In the spirit of that discussion, we made a number of changes that carry with them Pam’s compassion for those in need.
Our ward faces many challenges and opportunities. The exciting Redevelopment of Regent Park matched by concerns about Flooding on Toronto Island, Safety in the streets, Housing and Health Care issues.
I have experience working with key community leaders and agencies. I sit on the Board of Directors of the Regent Park Community Health Centre, Chair the Regent Park Pathways to Education Trust, and my current work as the Executive Director has kept me engaged with the needs of our young people and their families.
I consider my 30 years of city service and senior volunteer roles as an asset in serving the needs of Ward 28 for this interim period. I can hit the ground running and proudly continue the legacy of the late councillor Pam McConnell."