Although the municipal election has taken a back seat for more than a month due to the provincial election, some candidates for Toronto’s city council are still bringing forward important issues for voters to consider. David Sparrow is one of them.
Toronto’s Ward 26 is considered one of the most unique ridings in the city. From Thorncliffe Park to Leaside, from its industrial landscape to its vast real estate market, Don Valley West is becoming one of the most popular areas of the city to migrate to.
This is why David Sparrow is running to represent this ward in this year’s election. Sparrow, an entrepreneur, president of the Alliance of Canadian Cinema and very familiar face on film and television, is dedicated to Ward 26 because he wants to be a representative that will stand with the community “to achieve good things.”
Sparrow, who supported Mohamed Dhanani in the last municipal election, has spent more than two decades in and around Flemingdon Park and Leaside with his wife and children. He and his family have been witnesses to the ever changing neighborhoods of Ward 26, but he did concede that some have been good and others not so much, which is what he wants to address at 100 Queen Street West.
“I believe that the character of our communities matters, that healthy, happy, safe and livable neighbourhoods enhance our quality of life, and that those goals are best defined by the people who actually live in the community,” stated Sparrow. “Local voices and local businesses matter. The communities of Ward 26 are quickly being redefined as BIG-box retail shopping destinations. Now more than ever, we need a representative that will stand with the community and defend our collective voice.”
When it boils down to the issues, Sparrow has many important concerns that he wants to bring forward and discuss with his fellow colleagues on city council and the mayor, whether it’s incumbent chief magistrate Rob Ford or any of the other four major candidates (Olivia Chow, John Tory, David Soknacki, Karen Stintz).
Some of the biggest problems facing Don Valley West are its aging infrastructure, traffic infiltration, landlord-tenant relations, parking challenges, accessible green space, inappropriate development and even crime, though Toronto Police describe crime in Leaside as being in “pretty good shape.”
Constituents living in Leaside will face an uphill battle now with the construction of the Crosstown Eglinton LRT, which will inevitably incite horrific traffic conditions – a part of the construction process will commence this month and last until the end of summer.
In regards to the city as a whole, Sparrow, who appeared in such films as “16 Blocks,” “Serendipity” and “Four Brothers,” believes now is the perfect time to begin producing an “attractive environment for high-quality employment” as well establishing well thought out infrastructure and transit initiatives for future generations.
“We deserve a higher standard of professionalism at City Hall and need to ensure we have strong fiscal accountability,” explained Sparrow. “We live in a vibrant city at an exciting time when we can still make solid, long-term urban planning decisions that will see Toronto continue as a one of the top places to live on the planet.”
Sparrow refused to launch any attacks against two-term City Councillor John Parker because he will allow him to “defend his record.” However, Sparrow did note that the community needs and deserves a councillor that will be proactive, community-based, consultative, an advocate and champion rather than an educator or caretaker.
One example where Leaside, Flemingdon Park and Thorncliffe Park need an empathetic advocate is in the matter of urban planning and development. Sparrow articulated the fact that he feels the “committee of adjustments, the community council and, more specifically, the Ontario Municipal Board have put developers into the driver’s seat when it comes to appropriate planning.” This is where Ward 26 needs a “stronger more decisive voice in these discussions.”
If one were to survey community residents regarding issues of importance to them, a significant number would likely point to big-box stores, which has become a crucial topic for community leaders, who say they are hurting local businesses and the quality of the areas – anyone who reads Leaside Life will certainly understand.
There are numerous big-box stores already established, such as Pet Smart, Best Buy and Winners, and many more are coming, including Wal-Mart, Whole Foods and Costco. On top of this, there are more condominiums being considered.
Sparrow noted that he will always welcome and celebrate local small businesses. However, he realizes that big-box stores are here to stay “at least until their accountants tell them they would be more profitable somewhere else.”
“But BIG-box stores are only the simplest/easiest answer for our employment lands. They do not lead to healthier, happier more livable communities. They attract tens of thousands of cars to already congested streets and they do not support friendly pedestrian access,” said Sparrow.
“Finally, Leaside does not ‘need’ more large retail shopping opportunities and it doesn’t need more grocery shopping opportunities either. The catchment areas for these large stores are huge. Sure, people from Leaside shop close to home – that makes sense – but the stores draw one-stop vehicle traffic from far and wide and that affects our quality of life. It’s time to think outside the big-box!”
With the LRT set to arrive in the next several years, Sparrow warns that Leaside and other Ward 26 communities need to carefully consider what kind of development it wants moving ahead. In this case, businesses and residents need to “stand up to the developers and OMB” in order to defend the community’s present and future.
“We must demand of our politicians the representation we elected them to give us. The next eight or more years will bring many opportunities for positive change,” espoused Sparrow. “We can’t leave the power in the hands of those who operate largely on a maximum-profit-at-any-cost motive. We need to ensure we have responsible development that leads to healthier, happier, more livable communities.”
Who will Sparrow vote for in the mayoral race this year? Well, he said that it’s up in the air, but did note that there are plenty of candidates to choose from: a former business leader, a former chair of the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), a former Toronto Budget Chief and a candidate with experience in the federal and provincial level. Sparrow added that he understood what a Ford mayoralty would look like after observing him for 10 years on city council, which is why he did not cast a ballot for the Ford Nation leader.
With that being said, Sparrow believes Toronto should “watch the race unfold, listen carefully, weigh the issues, consider the short and long term future and then vote wisely…very wisely.”