He fell to Giorgio Mammoliti in 2010, but Di Nizio is determined to unseat the incumbent this time.
Nick Di Nizio first ran for city council in the 2010 election, coming closer than anybody has in a long time to unseating Giorgio Mammoliti (Ward 7, York West)—and although Mammo still won comfortably, he did so by a lower margin than usual. Now Di Nizio is back for another round. We met with him at the International Bakery on Finch Avenue West, where he spoke at length about his policy beliefs and preferences.
On taxes, Di Nizio’s position is straightforward: he supports tax increases but opposes reinstating the vehicle registration tax. “Most of the people in this ward, they’re on fixed incomes, and we don’t have amenities or transit so they need a car to get around. The vehicle registration tax, it’s basically taxing them for living here. Yesterday I was talking to a woman who has trouble paying her house insurance—the $60 is a big deal for her.” He is willing to consider raising the land transfer tax and property taxes, but prefers the idea of an Ontario-wide sales tax whose revenues will be dedicated to all municipalities—not just Toronto (he concedes this will be politically difficult).
Di Nizio supports cutting the police budget. “We’ve got redundancies. Do we need officers making $90,000 per year handling reception duties at stations? When we get these inspections at accidents, you get three officers taking statements—but they’re just handing out questionnaires. Do we need three officers doing that?” Di Nizio also supports increasing the Toronto EMS budget, noting that wait times for EMS service in Ward 7 are unacceptable.
On transit, Di Nizio supports the Finch LRT. “I’m pro-LRT here because I think it’s the best option here. But I’m not pro-LRT everywhere; it depends on the area. Jane Street is difficult because I don’t think you can widen the street in certain parts for the LRT, like south of Eglinton. I’d like to see more buses in the short term. I’m not saying I’m averse to LRT on Jane, but I’d like to see more reports on it.” He is wary of the cost of a downtown relief line, but if the money can be found, he strongly supports it and believes it is necessary.
Di Nizio is of two minds when it comes to TAVIS: “I like that they’ve gotten friendlier; I think they have. We haven’t had TAVIS operating out of Division 31 in, I think, two years now? But you hear stories about them busting down doors and kids are screaming, and I’m opposed to that, they’ve got to find new methods.” Di Nizio is also concerned about carding. “They’re saying it’s going down, but should it be eliminated? Yeah. Realistically, you’re criminalizing someone based on race. I’m not too keen on that.”
He wants to make TCHC re-funding a priority: “It’s something that councillors keep kicking down the road and now it’s a huge problem. You ask how we’re going to fund it—that’s a tough question to answer. Speaking to the people who are there right now, they all say they’re not getting timely or adequate responses to their requests. We need someone to address those problems ASAP. I mean, visually, it’s depressing; you want to make people feel good about their homes.” For new units, Di Nizio supports a mixed approach—some new dedicated units, some agreements with condo developers for affordable units in new developments.
Delivery of social services is a topic that really gets Di Nizio talking; he’s excited by numerous ideas. “In this area here, we have a lot of Latin Americans—people from Central and South America—and we need to cater to that community,” he says. “In the northern part, around Sheppard, we have a big Vietnamese community. We’ve got Punjabis along Finch. We’ve got Italians. We need to make sure the City notices, and documents and support get translated into their languages. I want my office, when I’m councillor, I want to make sure that anybody can come in with a piece of paper and they can get help. And our current councillor, frankly, he doesn’t do a lot to work with these communities.” Di Nizio wants the City to step up and further assist community centres in Ward 7; he cites Carmine Stefano Community Centre as one that is currently underfunded and as a result underused. He also wants to set up mentorship programs for youth. “We’re one of the most industrialized wards in the city—and we’ve got one of the highest poverty rates,” he says. “We have to do better.”
Ultimately, Di Nizio sees unseating Giorgio Mammoliti as an important task: “He’s like a crazy old man and we’re his kids saying ‘you’re crazy, dad.’ And he’s become an absentee councillor. He’s more concerned about his own ideas than anything else. Closing basketball courts, saying ‘we don’t want these kinds of people,’ and he complains that 80 per cent of the people on Jane and Finch don’t pay for their TTC fares. He’s calling the people in his own ward thieves!” Di Nizio is determined that Ward 7 needs different leadership.