Taking down the fences around a beautiful urban forest

by Tom Rakocevic

We have all driven or taken a TTC bus past the forested William Baker neighbourhood along Sheppard Ave. W., near Keele St., but few of us have ever entered it.

Councillor Anthony Perruzza wants that to change and has worked on an agreement with the Canada Lands Company to open this forested neighbourhood to the community as early as Autumn 2014.

The William Baker Neighbourhood was established in the 1950’s to house military personnel serving at the Canadian Forces Base Downsview.

The base was decommissioned and closed in 1996, and the neighbourhood was eventually emptied leaving unused homes in a secluded small urban forest.

Currently, the William Baker neighbourhood is a part of the greater Downsview Park lands and owned by the Canada Lands Company with a long-term plan for development. Councillor Perruzza has been fighting to see this neighbourhood preserved for its heritage aspects and natural beauty.

“The military base closed twenty years ago. It’s time that the community has access to this beautiful space.” says Councillor Perruzza.

Canada Lands has received permission to demolish the vacant houses but thanks to the work of Councillor Perruzza, they have also agreed to take down the fencing and make this area into park space open to the public.

Their landscape plan for the area shows a number of enhancements to this park space including new pathways for pedestrians and cyclists, new benches and garbage bins to reduce litter, as well as new trees.

The creation of a new park is welcome news to the community. This fall, make sure to take a stroll through the William Baker neighbourhood and enjoy the wonderful colours of a lovely urban forest right in our neighbourhood.

How’s your Rogers service?

By Howard Moscoe

I am a long time customer of Rogers Cable. I’ve been using their service for TV and now, for internet since I moved to Downsview some 50 years ago.

The service has never been great, but lately, it seems to be getting worse and worse. I regularly lose my cable service at least once or twice a week.

My internet is as slow as the hand drier in the Bay Street bus terminal washroom; at least when it is working at all.

Is it just me or are you having the same problems with your service?

The city of Toronto re-builds a road every 45 years. By ‘rebuild’ I don’t mean simply lay a new coat of asphalt, but actually re-construct the road including the concrete road bed and curbs from the ground up. My street was done seven years ago.

Right now in the Keele and Finch area, the water mains and some of the sewers are being replaced. How often does Rogers cable replace its infrastructure?

Is the Rogers infrastructure (cable hardware) just simply too old to do the job? When is Rogers going to replace our local cables? Has the company invested its entire capital budget into finding new ways to dip into your wallet while ignoring the necessary upgrades needed to keep the basic system running?

The company has recently given every one of its customers up to three free boxes so we can continue to receive the same basic service as they switch to digital. Why? Is it so they can start to sell you individual programs and new services that you don’t yet know you need or want? Isn’t that the equivalent of putting a new coat of paint on a rotten board?

Let me know if your service is as painful as mine.

Please send me an email at info@downsviewadvocate.ca, and tell me what you think of the service you get. I will publish comments from readers and ask Rogers for its response.

Perhaps, together, we can get Rogers to pay some attention to Downsview, this forgotten corner of Toronto.

Change the Electoral System and More People Will Vote

The dust has settled after a feisty spring election where a minority of Ontarians (39 per cent) elected a majority provincial government to represent them at Queen’s Park. Although 61 per cent of Ontario voters desired political change during the election, Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals now hold 54 per cent of the seats in provincial parliament.

 

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Canadians witnessed a similar occurrence in the 2011 federal election where Stephen Harper’s Conservatives won a majority government with little under 40 per cent of the popular vote. Like Harper in Ottawa, Wynne has much liberty when it comes to routing the course of Ontario over the next four years.

The will of many voters is effectively omitted because of our current electoral system, called “first-past-the-post”. If one’s candidate of choice did not win in their community, then their vote is considered to be lost. It is no wonder that voters feel so disenfranchised about elections and will commonly say “What’s the point in voting? My vote doesn’t matter anyway.” This was certainly the case in our community where our MPP won with only 11,867 votes while 33,561 chose not to vote at all.

This system encourages what is called “strategic voting” which entails voting for a candidate, not one’s first choice but the one more likely to win and block the least preferred candidate. In Ontario, many who were unhappy with the provincial government plugged their nose and voted for Wynne in order to stop the Hudak agenda.

Strategic voting is commonly abused by politicians who encourage it in places where it makes little sense. Here in York West and in downtown Toronto, the Conservatives generally rank a distant third with 10 per cent of the vote, yet many people are still encouraged to block Conservatives with their vote.

How can a system that ignores Ontario’s voters still be deemed democratic?

In 2005, the Election Amendment Act was passed and Elections Ontario convened the Citizen’s Assembly on Electoral Reform to report back on whether electoral reform was in fact needed. The Assembly recommended a system of “proportional representation” where all votes count and the seats in provincial parliament would reflect the overall election results. This system was proposed to Ontarians as a referendum question during the 2007 provincial election where voters were presented with a second ballot which asked:

“Which electoral system should Ontario use to elect members to the provincial legislature?

• The existing electoral system (First-Past-the-Post)

• The alternative electoral system proposed by the Citizens’ Assembly (Mixed Member Proportional)”

Leading up to the 2007 election/referendum, a poll taken by Strategic Counsel showed 88% of respondents either knew “nothing” or only “a little” about the new system. Ontarians should have been provided with an expanded version of the ballot question with corresponding definitions and examples in order for there to have been a definite distinction between the two systems. Needless to say, the referendum failed, although 1.6 million Ontarians (37 per cent) were in support of changing the electoral system. Ironically, Wynne required 1.9 million votes to win a majority government.

Every Ontarian’s voice is valid, therefore every vote should count in an election. These past provincial and federal elections highlight the need for a vital change in our electoral system so that people can vote with a clear conscience and choose the person and party that they truly want the most – whether it is Liberal, NDP, Conservative, Green or other.

In a time where fewer and fewer people vote, every necessary step needs to be taken in order to empower voters. Perhaps, if Ontarians felt that their vote could count, they would take the time to vote.

 

By Jessica Pointon