Councillor’s Message: Summer 2014 Newsletter

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Dear Neighbour:

By the time you receive this newsletter, there will still be half the summer left and I hope that you will take the time to explore and get to know our City.

At the graduation ceremony of the students from Sir Alexander MacKenzie Senior Public School, I challenged the graduating students to get to know the City better and to become more civically-connected, including the upcoming Municipal Election this Fall. I also told them that the future is theirs. Their input is very important in the decisions we make at City Hall to ensure that the future and present are brighter for them, and everyone else.

At the recent graduation ceremony for a “Train the Trainer Project: Empower! Learning and Teaching Workers’ Rights” class, funded by Toronto, I saw the importance of teaching newcomers about the laws of Canada and Ontario. This helps to prevent the exploitation of newcomers. They learned about the benefits of CPP, EI, workers rights, etc. However, it is also important to teach them about the revenue sources that are needed to enact and uphold our laws, including employment laws, and how these benefits are being paid for. I also hear from employers that many times, potential employees want to be paid in cash so they don’t have to pay taxes. Well, you cannot collect the benefits if we don’t have a source of revenue to pay for them. There are always 2 sides of the coin.

I hear about increasing gridlock. Gridlock cannot be solved overnight. Re-timing of the traffic signals will have to be preceded by replacing our 2 very old traffic light control systems, one of which has a computer program that dates from the 1960’s. Previous governments did not invest in replacing these systems in the name of austerity.

Improvements to our public transit network can reduce gridlock. However, building this network is expensive. It takes a long time to raise the funds and to plan and build it. If we do not do it right, it becomes a boondoggle and a waste of tax money. Simple messages of “subway is the only solution” will not cut it. There is not enough public money to go around when we include the other needs of our residents, so we need to prioritize our spending. We need an interconnected network of reasonable and affordable public transit lines, roads, and bike trails.

I have always advocated for improved service on the GTA’s rail corridors (e.g., two-way, all-day GO train service), integrating regional and local transit fare systems (Presto is coming) and creating viable alternatives for the public. If commuters from Vaughan, Mississauga, Pickering, York Region, Scarborough, Etobicoke, North York, etc. had a viable, rapid and affordable alternative, they may get out of their cars and use public transit if the network connects them to where they are going. They may stop driving through our city streets. Currently, they do not have a good alternative. Furthermore, the people working in the inner and outer suburbs but living elsewhere in the GTA also do not have a good public transit alternative, so they drive too. For my morning drive into the city, northbound traffic on the 404, from the 401, is worse than southbound traffic on the DVP. Gridlock on the DVP is equally bad in both directions. A good number of people do commute to their jobs in the inner and outer suburbs from downtown, so these commuters also need an interconnected transit network.

I have always believed in your “right-to-know” information that can impact you, your family and the communities around us, even if the final decision does not rest with City Council. That information can be controversial, but you have the right to know, so you can take any actions or make any decisions to mitigate the hazard. Many residents learned of the oil pipeline running along the Hydro Corridor from my newsletter, and I continue to inform residents of any cell-phone tower applications, although these decisions do not rest with the city.

As always, if you have any comments, questions or concerns, please feel free to contact my office at (416) 392-1375 or




Chin Lee
Ward 41 – Scarborough Rouge River