Meet Your Candidates: Ward 27, Toronto Centre-Rosedale
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Meet Your Candidates: Ward 27, Toronto Centre-Rosedale

During this year’s municipal election, far more is at stake than just the mayoralty. Toronto has forty-four wards, each with its own council seat up for grabs. To demystify the most contested of those races, Torontoist is presenting a series of profiles of the key candidates.

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Chris Tindal, Kristyn Wong-Tam, and Ken Chan. All images courtesy of the respective candidates.


Ward 27 comprises much of Toronto’s downtown, and includes the city’s financial district, Yorkville, Rosedale, and Moss Park. The departure of long-time councillor Kyle Rae has opened the door for new contenders. We’ve focused on three prominent candidates—Ken Chan, Kristyn Wong-Tam, and Chris Tindal.


Do you live in Ward 27? See our Ward 27 page for an interactive ward map, photos, and more.

CHRIS TINDAL


Chris Tindal

About the candidate:
While he was attending the United Nations climate change negotiations in Copenhagen, Chris Tindal learned of Ward 27 councillor Kyle Rae’s decision not to run again. The former Green Party of Canada candidate says he was struck by the trend of climate change advocates pushing for local solutions to global problems. He decided to stand for office and bring his experience in political organizing and business to the race.
Tindal, who has lived in the ward for over a decade, has a bachelor’s degree in Radio and Television Arts from Ryerson University; he produces websites and mobile applications for Canadian businesses. Tindal also sits on the national governing body of the United Church of Canada, and devotes much of his spare time to volunteering with youth groups and civic engagement causes.
We spoke with Chris Tindal in the food court of College Park at College and Yonge streets as he dined on noodles and tofu.
On the mayoral race and endorsements:
Chris Tindal tells us he voted for George Smitherman in advance polling, admitting, “it was a decision I really wrestled with… It was partly that I thought George’s vision was aligned with mine, and partly because of what a Rob Ford mayoralty would mean for the city.”
Tindal highlights endorsements he’s received from the likes of former local Progressive Conservative MP David MacDonald, retired senator Dr. Lois Miriam Wilson, and Liam McHugh-Russell, a former co-chair of the Ontario New Democratic Youth and MP candidate in Etobicoke-Lakeshore.
On taxation and new municipal revenue tools:
Citing the new taxes introduced during the David Miller era, Tindal notes that “the problem people have with taxation in the city of Toronto right now is that people don’t see a corresponding increase in services.” He talks about a desire to phase out the land transfer tax because it “discourages economic activity which is of benefit, which is home ownership.” He also favours road tolls on Toronto highways over the vehicle registration levy, which he argues “is not based on road usage.” Tindal would dedicate most of the revenue from road pricing to public transit, with the remainder going to road repairs.
Says Tindal: “There will be a backlash if we don’t improve accountability for the taxes we collect now.” He mostly wants to lay off new revenue tools in the short term, but cites an interest in investigating a fee on corporate parking spaces within a couple of years.
On development in Ward 27:
Chris complains of an ad hoc “condo: ‘yes’ or ‘no'” approach to planning in recent years. “We also need a better consultation process, because what we have now is just for optics.” He argues that involving residents earlier in the planning process will mean that proposals include more consideration for community spaces, affordable housing, and transit. Tindal is also very frustrated with the lack of environmental standards for new developments. His website declares, “we must stop constructing new buildings that don’t meet even the most modest definition of energy and water efficiency.”
On landlord licensing and neglected rental properties:
Here Tindal describes a “complete lack of resources dedicated to enforcement” of municipal licensing and standards by-laws. He met with city staff about tenant issues earlier this year, and remarks that inspections were stepped up in 2009, which meant greater identification of infractions. Tindal is “not sold on landlord licensing, because “I’m not convinced the costs won’t simply be passed on to tenants…there’s a set of rules that landlords are supposed to be following by law, and they’re not following them. That’s true whether they have a license or not.” He sees the issue more as a lack of enforcement and prioritization than a lack of government tools.
On keeping families downtown:
“Many families are living in very small apartments in the ward and across the city,” says Tindal. “We’re in danger of creating a massive exodus as demographics shift.” He advocates a focus on playgrounds, parks, schools, and safe streets as critical factors in keeping families in the core. “Most kids have a bike, but how many of their parents would let them ride downtown? That’s what drives people out of downtown.”
On Transit City:
Chris supports Transit City, saying, “we need to move forward, because if we don’t we won’t be building anything.” He adds, “one of the things I like about Transit City is that part of the agreement is an operating subsidy for those lines…Transit City is one of the only recent expansion projects in the city that has done that—factored in operating costs as well as capital costs.” Tindal does note that Transit City “doesn’t line up with new office developments. More than 90% of new office buildings are being built in areas without high order transit.” He advocates a longer-term vision, but applauds the effort to connect transit to priority neighbourhoods.
On sustainable neighbourhoods:
“On new developments you require efficient toilets. You go from 20L flush to 6L flush.” Tindal would look at expanding the funding strategy used in Mayor Miller’s Tower Renewal scheme, where property owners get a retrofit loan from the City, then pay it back through property taxes. He argues that “the City is guaranteed to be paid back, retrofit gets funded, and property owner sees efficiencies right away.”
On poverty:
In addition to fixing the impersonal eviction process for Toronto Community Housing (TCHC), Tindal says “we need to be building for affordable housing units. I don’t we need to wait for inclusionary zoning legislation form the province…we can work affordable housing into the City’s secondary plans.” He wants to work with developers to meet firm affordable housing targets.
Tindal claims that “the shelter system has failed. Too many remain there on a long-term basis. What people really need is housing.” He says the City’s Streets to Homes program is a good start, but that it needs more spaces, and that those who access it “need to have adequate supports to deal with mental health or substance abuse issues.” Tindal decries the city’s choice to “spend more on a shelter bed than getting someone into a home.”
On police/community relations after the G20:
“We first need to acknowledge that trust has been lost among many Torontonians, we have to recognize that it takes a lot longer to build trust than it does to lose it…we needed to hear expressions of concern about very serious allegations, but also about police actions that were not in dispute. We didn’t hear that, and it really exacerbated the trauma and extended the violation of trust.”
Tindal is concerned about unanswered questions regarding human rights violations, and reports that police were ordered not to interfere with destruction of Yonge street. “We won’t get all the answers we need from the inquiries underway, and only the province or federal government can call a public inquiry, but the City must do what it can to rebuild trust.”

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Construction at Church and Carlton, outside Maple Leaf Gardens. Photo by Loozrboy from the Torontoist Flickr Pool.

KRISTYN WONG-TAM


Kristyn Wong-Tam

About the candidate:
Kristyn Wong-Tam emphasizes a commitment to social and economic justice in her bid for council. Her parents immigrated to Canada when she was a child, and experienced harsh working conditions in the hotel and garment industries. Wong-Tam promises to be an advocate for marginalized voices in her ward and across the city.
Wong-Tam has made her living in real estate with Coldwell Banker, and as the manager of a coffee shop in Ward 27. She also established XEXE Gallery on Richmond Street West. In addition to being a founding member of the Church-Wellesley BIA, Wong-Tam has spent time volunteering at two different women’s shelters in Toronto.
We spoke with Kristyn at her campaign office on Yonge Street near Davenport Road.
On the mayoral race and endorsements:
Kristen Wong-Tam has not endorsed or been endorsed by any mayoral candidates. Although Wong-Tam admits “one candidate may be more challenging to work with than the others,” she applauds all those running for office. “Candidates have asked a lot of their families and supporters. Everyone who chooses to stand for office has my respect, especially now that I’ve gone through eight months of a grueling campaign.” Wong-Tam adds that “the dogma that has dominated the discourse of the mayoral campaign has not served us well as Torontonians.”
On taxation and new municipal revenue tools:
Wong-Tam does not support the land transfer tax, calling it regressive and cyclical: “Should the value of property go down, the tax revenue stream decreases. It also puts us at a competitive disadvantage with our regional neighbours.” By contrast, Wong-Tam, the owner of two vehicles, calls the vehicle registration fee “a fair tax, considering the amount of road infrastructure we have to maintain and expand. If we want to have a just society, those of us who are making more should be contributing more.”
Wong-Tam would exempt low-income seniors from the vehicle registration tax, and offer them a tax break by either freezing property taxes or holding them at the rate of inflation. She also wants the City to investigate the provision of financial services to its own residents, with the profits getting re-invested into City-owned infrastructure. She notes that the idea has already been raised at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities: “If you could do your banking with Loblaws, or bank with the City of Toronto and have the money go back into your own community, what would your choice be? The money would be invested into local infrastructure, daycare facilities, and other local needs.”
On development in Ward 27:
Wong-Tam criticizes what she calls the “daddy-knows-best model of planning” in Ward 27. She favours getting the community involved as soon as a letter of intent has been filed, arguing that the application stage is too late—the City and developers usually hold their planning discussions years prior to application filing. She offers “a model of communication, engagement, and participation” as the solution, citing her work to rally local residents and business owners to stop a proposed seventy-five-thousand-square-foot Home Depot development at Queen and Portland streets.
Wong-Tam cites a need to prevent development decisions from going to the notorious Ontario Municipal Board. She favours the creation of “city appeal bodies made up of architects, planners, and technical experts, and residents.” Wong-Tam also mentions her disappointment in the Jarvis beautification efforts, saying, “we focus on bikes, but not a single tree has been planted, not a single piece of street furniture has been installed, not a single stretch of sidewalk was resurfaced.” She wants to see more small scale retail along the street, and suggests that “Jarvis is being built piecemeal” because of poor leadership.
On landlord licensing and neglected rental properties:
Wong-Tam supports the idea of landlord licensing, arguing that multi-unit residential properties (five units or more) need stronger legislation: “Rooming houses have to apply for a new license every two years, so why not properties with forty or sixty units?” She says she’d investigate what powers exist under the City of Toronto Act to raise standards for landlords.
On keeping families downtown:
Wong-Tam states that “clusters of monolithic towers don’t necessarily make for livable communities.” She repeatedly links “family-friendly” neighbourhoods with “age- friendly” ones: “When we build age-friendly communities, we know that children and seniors are going to be populating the streets. When that happens, you’re going to have a much more livable neighbourhood.” Kristyn says the City must foster inter-generational living, and that “the City hasn’t even begun to plan” for its aging population, making reference to the grandmother who raised her as inspiration for taking care of seniors.
On Transit City:
Wong-Tam praises outgoing Mayor Miller for identifying that priority neighbourhoods were desperate for new infrastructure like Transit City, adding that these neighbourhoods “are primarily populated by racialized people” and new immigrants. She says the province should re-commit the funds it has held back for the project, calling it “something the city desperately needs. That’s not to say we don’t build subways, but we should never stop building, period.”
On sustainable neighbourhoods:
Referencing the city’s Live Green initiative, Wong-Tam laments that the City created “extraordinary programs” but that “we’re not always good at communicating those programs.” She calls for a focus on the “financial incentives” of sustainability, saying residents are more likely to pay attention as the cost of living increases. Wong-Tam proposes a charter calling for “all new projects to be livable, sustainable, and affordable, and that the lived experience will connect us to the land and to one another.”
She wants to look at more mid-range density in the form of five-to-eleven-storey developments.
On poverty:
“We know that economic justice is inherently tied in to racial equality; this is part of the Toronto story,” says Wong-Tom. “As someone who has actually worked in two different shelters with street-involved women suffering from mental illness or in many cases escaping abusive relationships, I know there are no easy fixes.” She mentions meeting seniors in the ward who are afraid to cook because of energy costs. She advocates for more affordable housing, more support for seniors who live alone, cheaper Metropasses for students, and more child care, which she calls “the biggest cost for young families.”
On police/community relations after the G20:
Wong-Tam calls the 33-0 vote praising police work at the G20 “a hasty decision—there was no need to rush.” She claims to be the first candidate or politician to have used Twitter to publicly voice her disapproval of the “kettling” tactic used by police at Queen and Spadina, and argues that Torontonians also need accountability from the province for laws passed without communication. “Hopefully the police will acknowledge that there were mistakes made…we could have done things differently.”

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Police at University and Elm during the G20. Photo by harry choi from the Torontoist Flickr Pool.

KEN CHAN


Ken Chan

About the candidate:
Ken Chan hails from Brunei, in Southeast Asia, and has big city experience in Vancouver; London, England; and Toronto. His professional experience includes policing in Toronto, as well as a variety of civil service roles at all levels of government in both Canada and the United Kingdom. Chan served as an advisor to then deputy premier George Smitherman, as well as London’s current Mayor Boris Johnson, and left the latter position to return to Toronto earlier this year.
Chan has served on the board of a local credit union, volunteered extensively with the United Way of Greater Toronto, and given his time to organizations that advocate for sexual health, mental health, and support for queer communities in Toronto and London.
We sat down with Ken Chan at a coffee shop at Yonge and College, and also chatted with him by telephone.
On the mayoral race and endorsements:
Ken Chan endorses and has been endorsed by mayoral hopeful George Smitherman, whom he advised at the province for three years. Says Chan of Smitherman, “I have his ear, he listens to me.” But Chan is also quick to point out that the mayor only has one vote: “I have been reaching out to all candidates, and whoever the next mayor is, I will work with them to preserve the interests of Ward 27.” Chan is also fond of saying that councillors are not elected to serve the mayor or the city at large, but rather their local constituencies.
On taxation and new municipal revenue tools:
Chan sees the land transfer and vehicle registration taxes as “regressive stop-gap measures” that council did not contemplate thoroughly. He references the potential bubble in the condo market that could burst at any time, warning that ” a downturn in the real estate market will affect revenues from the [land transfer] tax.” Chan favours phasing out this levy, as well as the vehicle registration fee. He advocates a property tax freeze for one year and a freeze on new hiring of city employees to “let the city review its spending practices.”
Chan remarks that now is not the time to give up on asking, “what are we going to get from the provincial and federal governments?” He also wants to know exactly where the Section 37 monies from new developments in his ward are going once the City collects them. Chan wants city council to “act more like a board of directors and manage things properly.” He highlights that during his tenure as an advisor to the mayor of London, the administration was able to cut its police budget by 16% “without compromising services.”
On development in Ward 27:
Chan describes the planning process in the ward as “ad hoc” and reactionary, saying that residents are involved far too late in the process. He advocates for “better relationships with resident groups and BIAs, a series of local town hall meetings, and a policy of open office hours so residents can approach the councillor on their own schedules.” Chan wants heritage staff at the city to work more closely with residents, and plans to get tougher on heritage property owners who allow their properties to fall into disrepair. He also sees an opportunity for what he describes as “heritage tourism” to take advantage of historic properties in Ward 27.
Chan has been consistent in his stance that the installation of bike lanes on Jarvis was a mistake, one he plans to reverse. He also says that he is “a huge cycling advocate,” and is eager to see the completion of the City’s bike plan. Chan wants to look at extending the Bloor/Danforth bike lane from Sherbourne to Church Street because “cyclists pretty much have nowhere to go once they arrive at Sherbourne.”
On landlord licensing and neglected rental properties:
Chan’s view of neglected properties includes a comprehensive approach to dealing with owners who neglect heritage properties, as well as with landlords who neglect their tenants. He tells us it’s “not so much about hiring more staff as getting more efficiencies from current staff.” Chan is skeptical about the idea of landlord licensing, likening the idea to licensing of bicycles: “The last thing we want is to end up with an expensive bureaucracy.” He promises to crack down on all local property owners who neglect their properties.
On keeping families downtown:
Here Chan articulates his belief that “downtown Toronto needs to have more destinations for young families.” He cites opportunities for more community gardens, and after-school programs for youth on evenings and weekends. Chan applauds efforts of not-for-profit groups such as Evergreen and Artscape to create innovative programs, adding that ” the City doesn’t have to do everything” where programming for young people and families is concerned. Chan asks, “other than the Eaton Centre, what do you do [in Ward 27] as a family?”
On Transit City:
Chan speaks to the merits of individual pieces of the Transit City plan, and of the Downtown Relief Line. His only qualm is that transit is “not about the branding,” but about improving service. Chan states that “by the time we start building for [the Pan Am Games in] 2015, we need to be talking about the next five years. The reason we’re struggling with financing is because we are trying to do it all at once.” Chan is also adamant that the TTC commission needs to be completely revamped to include a mix of private sector and not-for-profit members instead of councillors alone.
On sustainable neighbourhoods:
Here, Chan gives credit to the Miller administration, saying it “has done well when it comes to environmental issues.” Chan plans to “continue implementing the City’s sustainability plan,” adding: “let’s not reinvent the wheel, because every time we do, we lose time.”
On poverty:
Chan cites his credentials as a grant allocator for the United Way to illustrate his commitment to low-income individuals. He argues that “the City of Toronto needs a poverty reduction strategy,” a long-term plan developed in concert with the not-for profit sector and local communities. If elected, he plans to use his position as councillor to encourage the private sector to support disadvantaged individuals in developing life skills and getting into the job market.
On police/community relations after the G20:
Chan notes that, “as a former police officer, I have the ability to speak to this issue without being labeled ‘anti-cop.'” He disagrees with council’s decision to congratulate the police on their G20 work “before all the facts were in.” Chan assures us that he will work tirelessly to be “an authoritative voice” on police accountability, including the police budget, if he wins the Ward 27 race.
Get more municipal election coverage from Torontoist here.

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