Councillor Bailao Answers Bloor News Questions


Councillor Ana Bailaio Ward 18’s City Councillor speaks with Bloor News about the current issues in the city along with What’s happening in Ward 18


Q: Ward 18 has 20 TCHC properties that TCHC wants to sell in the next 3-5 years. What’s your take on this plan and what have the tenants of those buildings ?

1. When I first saw the list of TCHC properties for sale, I immediately recognized a couple of addresses of different community organizations. Two organizations doing great work in my area are Sistershare and St. Vincent de Paul’s, and are organizations running out of TCHC buildings that were on the list. These organizations are providing a valuable community service, and their clients are familiar with that location. I felt strongly that to move these people put the programs at risk and I requested that any building providing community service programming be taken off the list.

Fortunately, we were successful, and TCHC removed all the properties from the sale list that had community organizations working within them. The most important thing to keep in mind, though, is that the houses in Ward 18 are just like the houses across the City, and the only way to get the best result for Torontonians is to develop a comprehensive plan for how to maintain affordable housing levels in good repair. This is why I moved to have the sale of these properties delayed until a Special Working group could consider opportunities for non-profit, private and public sectors to come together and address and improve Toronto’s housing situation.

Q: If TCHC does go through with this sale do you believe in a portable subsidy so Toronto can better diversify neighbourhoods or do you believe in diversification through projects like Regent Park or Lawrence Heights?

2. I think the conversation about what’s the best strategy for Toronto Housing falls apart when you put portable subsidies against City-managed housing – you need a mix. These are complex issues and no one approach helps everyone. Just as the tenants of TCHC housing are diverse, so must the solutions be to assist them. The approaches that are most effective consider the many contributing causes that would result in the need for housing assistance, and take these into account. Toronto must not expand housing in only one way, but provide a more comprehensive multi-approach plan to assisting our residents.

Q: When you see the map showing the 675 units dispersed throughout the city what comes to mind?

3. What is apparent in the location of TCHC units proposed for sale is that we are dealing with a diverse area. What the map doesn’t represent, however, is we are dealing with a very specific type of housing with the TCHC proposed sale. These properties emphasize mixed-income, and family units, which are in the highest demand. Significantly reducing this stock puts a significant stress on Toronto’s current affordable housing units, and an even greater stress on the families that need them.

Q: Mushy or Mighty?

4. Without question, we are dealing with a mighty middle, but it’s not about a new group at Council. These Councillors are very engaged, follow the issues closely and take seriously the thoughts and concerns of their constituents. They have similar ideas, but most importantly are ready and willing to work with anyone interested in building a better City. This is and has always been about collaboration rather than competition, and keeping residents and information central to these conversations is critical. As for our effectiveness on the recent Budget, Transit and Housing votes, I leave that to Torontonians to decide.

Q: Do you feel stubbornness and or partisanship at city hall has tainted possible deals in the past and why is the middle succeeding now?

5. After every election there is always a “cooling-off” period where you learn what people care about and on what they are knowledgeable. It can take some time for these to get out there, but now the skills of different Councillors are coming together. The big change has been the increase in dialogue. People are more comfortable approaching each other, and that has smudged the lines between different camps for the better. The middle Councillors have always been seeking a balance, it was important to get Toronto into a better financial situation and to do so without hurting the social services that make Toronto special. I think we are very close to that now which has free us up to get into the projects we care most about. The advantage of making your own decisions and considering the facts, is that you always know where you stand.

Q: What are your goals for Ward 18 over the next couple years and how will that play out in the current budget? e.g transit, housing, taxation, services, garbage etc…

6. It’s the bigger issues – like Transit and the City’s Budget that get the attention, and for good reason – but there are a lot of very exiting projects happening locally as well. I plan on keeping up the street festivals and community events that make Ward 18 such a great place to live, and continue working on new ways of getting residents engaged in our neighbourhoods. We are managing a lot of exciting new development for the area, planning a new park on Queen Street, and focussing on a project that would expand the Perth/Dupont library. Something that is coming up soon is our first Ward 18 Parks Summit, where we will be able to bring people together to improve the activities and green spaces in our area.