Meet Your Candidates: Ward 29, Toronto-Danforth
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Meet Your Candidates: Ward 29, Toronto-Danforth

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.

Mary Fragedakis and Jane Pitfield. All images courtesy of the respective candidates.

Ward 29 includes Greektown, Pape Village, Playter Estates, and part of the old borough of East York. The neighbourhoods in the ward reflect heavy residential development in the years immediately following the Second World War. Land is at a premium when it comes to parking and green spaces. Case Ootes has served as councillor since amalgamation, but decided not to seek re-election in 2010. Here, we profile the two most prominent contenders to replace him: Mary Fragedakis and Jane Pitfield.

Do you live in Ward 29? See our Ward 29 page for an interactive ward map, photos, and more.


Mary Fragedakis

About the candidate:
Mary Fragedakis is a lifelong resident of the Danforth/East York area. She is a small business owner who organizes conferences for marketing, advertising, and media groups, and believes she can bring a mix of private sector knowledge and community organizing to the council seat. Fragedakis speaks about her decision to run in the context of familiarity and love of her community, without any mention of the outgoing councillor and his decisions.
Fragedakis holds a masters degree in political science from U of T. She received a small business award from the City in 2008. She is a member of the Toronto Board of Trade and the co-founder of the Broadview Community Youth Group, a registered charity that provides programming for children in the Danforth and Broadview area.
Fragedakis spoke with us by telephone from her campaign office.
On the mayoral race and endorsements:
Fragedakis has neither endorsed nor been endorsed by a candidate for mayor. She says she is “very focused on Ward 29,” adding that “the mayor is only one vote, and council will decide the direction of the city.” When we ask if she believes she can work with any of the front-running mayoralty hopefuls, she replies, “of course—you don’t have to love all your co-workers, you just have to get the job done. It’s not a big kumbaya.”
Fragedakis has secured endorsements from councillor Janet Davis (Ward 31, Beaches East-York), NDP MPPs Michael Prue and Peter Tabuns, as well as federal NDP leader Jack Layton.
On controversy over the development of secondary exits at Greenwood and Donlands TTC Stations:
Fragedakis says she followed this issue from the beginning, and cites “a breakdown of communication” between the TTC and local residents whose homes and streets would be affected by the proposal. She says she “made recommendations all the way through the process,” and takes credit for the commission’s decision to hold separate consultations for the respective subway stations. Fragedakis also tells us she “suggested that [the] City bring in an urban planner/designer to show residents what exits will look like.” Overall, she believes residents are increasingly pleased with the second exit process.
On land use in Ward 29:
Fragedakis, who is running alongside Toronto District School Board trustee Cathy Dandy, says they are both working “to stop school closures and put programming for seniors and families in these locations.” She expresses frustration that community groups must rent spaces at a cost when City-owned facilities are available. Fragedakis also states her desire that “newly renovated homes [be] consistent with the post-war scale and design of neighborhoods.”
Fragedakis highlights the lack of green space in the ward, saying she’d look at revitalizing Dieppe Park: “People don’t want to play here because they don’t want their kids to sustain injuries,” she notes about the space’s rough terrain.
On sustainability:
Fragedakis says she has been a long-time advocate of “expanding organics into apartments so that [the] ward can increase its diversion rate.” She points out that over 20,000 of the ward’s residents live in buildings with no access to the green bin program. Speaking about trees in her ward, Fragedakis remarks that “tree planting programs are available, but people don’t realize it. The tree canopy is suffering from age and severe weather, and needs to be replenished.”
Fragedakis also wants to look at encouraging her residents to purchase more solar panels, emphasizing a “priority to include them in the revitalization of high rise buildings.” She tells us many young people, including a seven-year-old, have been asking her about her environmental credentials as she knocks on doors. She muses, “when kids talk to me about carbon footprints, I think to myself that we’ve come a long way.”
On a ranked ballot:
Fragedakis is fully onside with a ranked ballot for municipal elections.
On taxation and city finances:
Fragedakis has little love for the land transfer and vehicle registration levies introduced under David Miller: “Taxes can really squeeze a lot of people. I agree with people who are calling for an end to these taxes.” She promises to phase out vehicle registration tax first, saying “careful budgeting will help us. We have to find savings by re-purposing excess [city owned] spaces instead of paying rents in private buildings.”
Fragedakis also proposed “continued lobbying for operating costs to be taken up by the province,” saying that the entire region benefits from services based in Toronto. “If you want to encourage people to take transit, our partners at the province need to pay their fair share…At some point, some of this stuff has to be uploaded.” She also mentions Toronto needs a larger share of the federal gas tax As for road tolls, Fragedakis insists they “won’t really fly with my constituents.”
On Transit City:
Fragedakis calls herself a “strong supporter” of the plan, in part because it is “a lot cheaper than subways, more reliable, innovative, and it’s been going on in Europe forever.” She tells us she has been “campaigning for Transit City since the spring,” when the province delayed the project’s funding. “We can’t say we’re a world class city with the kind of transit system we currently have.” Fragedakis also says that problems with the St. Clair right-of -way project can be avoided when building the new LRT lines: “Contractors [for hydro and gas] weren’t coordinated on St. Clair. The private sector has to work with the City before construction happens, and it must engage in cost sharing if it wants to take advantage of construction opportunities.”

Donlands Station, in summer 2006. Photo by David Topping/Torontoist.


Jane Pitfield

About the candidate:
With twelve years of local government experience, as a school trustee and councillor in Don Valley West from 1994 to 2006, Jane Pitfield is attempting a comeback to municipal politics after finishing second to incumbent mayor David Miller in 2006. Pitfield’s passion for local issues is evident, and she describes her candidacy in 2010 as a response to “a calling” to continue her public service.
Pitfield served on the budget, public works audit, and aboriginal affairs committees during her tenure at City Hall. She was a strong advocate of increasing water rates to encourage conservation and energy savings. In 2008, she was elected president of the Caledon Heritage Foundation. Pitfield is also the author of Leaside, a historical profile of the Toronto neighbourhood.
We spoke with Jane Pitfield at Le Gourmand coffee house on Spadina Avenue as she took a break between a public event and her return to Ward 29 to canvass voters.
On the mayoral race and endorsements:
Pitfield isn’t publicly supporting any candidate for mayor, and has not sought any mayoral candidate’s endorsement. However, she tells us, “if you ask George [Smitherman] and Rob [Ford] who they prefer in Ward 29, they’ll both say ‘Jane Pitfield.'” Pitfield adds, “Ward 29 is in disrepair, and fixing it is going to require budget dollars. I don’t want to compromise the best possible relationship I can have with the next mayor.”
Pitfield has been endorsed by Don Valley West MP Rob Oliphant, Toronto Sun columnist Sue-Ann Levy, and outgoing councillor Michael Walker (Ward 22, St. Paul’s).
On controversy over the development of secondary exits at Greenwood and Donlands TTC Stations:
On how the TTC handled the proposed development, she remarks, “I think it’s a really good example of how the City operates in a vacuum, and how the local voice has been forgotten.” Pitfield says many residents concerned about the expropriation of homes to create secondary exits have endorsed her, and that she personally put forward plans to satisfy both planners and residents. Pitfield is confident a solution for Donlands Station, one that includes the creation of new low-rise housing, will be forthcoming in January.
On land use in Ward 29:
Pitfield emphasizes “a need for child care spaces and children’s programming in the community,” promising to get results for local families. On the issue of scarce space for programming, Pitfield tells us, “I have always advocated for what we now call community hubs—I simply call it a sharing of resources between schools and city.”
She argues that the city must work cooperatively with the school board, and she promises to find a way to re-open the pool at Danforth Collegiate and Technical Institute. Pitfield also wants to see improved snow and leaf clearing in her ward, adding the ward needs to better support “the very high percentage of [elderly] people still living in their homes.”
On sustainability:
Pitfield wants to use the Centre for Urban Sustainability, which is located in Ward 29, as the site of a new “office of best practices at the City of Toronto, which would be sustainable practices.” She sees the ability to conserve energy as a personal responsibility. She believes in wind power and solar energy, and sees water rates as “an incentive rather than a tax.”
Pitfield is concerned about the number of combined sewers in her ward, and wants to see them replaced with more modern infrastructure. She also tells us she “sought to double the tree canopy in Leaside, and hope to do the same thing in [Ward 29]. We have people taking trees down because, unfortunately, they think that leaves are litter.” Pitfield is also a strong supporter of bike lanes on arterial roads, including Danforth Avenue. She argues that “while parking is a huge issue, it is possible because of the location of our ward to leave the car at home, or to not own a car at all.”
On a ranked ballot:
Pitfield says she supports having a ranked ballot in municipal elections.
On taxation and city finances:
Jane opposes both the land transfer and vehicle registration taxes. As for finding ways to finance local needs, Pitfield says, “I really do believe the time has come for the province to provide the operating costs for the TTC, and I think there’s further uploading with social housing required, and that will help.” Pitfield is also confident that once the city engages in “an honest budget process,” other levels of government will be more prepared to open up their wallets. She adds, “They’re not going to give us more money if they think it’s going into a big black hole.”
Pitfield is worried that taxes have gone up too much, especially for seniors. She says “the way to find money in the budgets is to look at the largest items, which are the TTC and the police. I think there are substantial savings that can be found.” Pitfield wants to reduce the management at the TTC, and separate the parking authority from the police, saying of the latter that “we need a kinder, gentler way of enforcing ticketing.” She adds that “the base budget has never been questoned. We need to go back to providing the services that property taxes are supposed to pay for.”
On Transit City:
Pitfield is a strong supporter of the plan, and is confident the province will restore funding in time. She reminds us that she has always been an advocate of subways, and had plans to build new stations and routes over a twenty-five-year period. She goes on to say that while Transit City is necessary, “there’s a limited amount of space on our roads, and once you use up that space, the only alternative is to go underground or above ground. I believe in looking at all options.” She says she’s heard that a lot of people in her ward “don’t want an LRT coming down Pape or Donlands, and I think further discussion on the part of the new council needs to take place.” She worries some of the consultation around transit and other major issues has been “token consultation—we need to bring back the local voice.”
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