Sit down with Ward 7 councillor Anthony Perruzza
EVV: Tell us some of your favourite accomplishments from the last year.
AP: We came through a difficult election, and during an election it’s impossible to focus on the lay of the land and neighbourhood-by-neighbourhood type issues. Now that the election is over, I’ve found that a good thing about Ward 7 is that it has several very active ratepayer associations, which in my mind are very good to work with to get neighbourhood development on track. They define the agenda, they set the priorities, they develop the plan, we’re the ones that move it through, and it’s straightforward. So, what we did this summer to get to know Ward 7 was we did some very extensive canvassing. As a result of that, we generated somewhere over 1,500 case files. So, we’re now just doing some clean up. Some of those case files were ongoing with the previous Councillor, but a great many of those are now new case files. In the process of cleaning up, the result was that the work generated a lot of information on a neighbourhood-to-neighbourhood basis and we quickly learned what residents feel are the real issues that need tackling.
EVV: So what's coming up?
AP: Cleanliness is percolating to the top of the responses we receive. People complaining about how things are maintained and so on. As a result of that, I’ve been having a series of meetings with all of the different departments from municipal licensing, snow maintenance, and others on developing protocols to find where we can be more efficient in dealing with those types of maintenance requests. It’s the little things we can do that helps everyone out in that regard.
EVV: And around the neighbourhood?
AP: On the other issues I believe that we’ve been very successful in generating harmony within some of the neighbourhoods and with some of the homeowners. We’ve taken the temperature down on these matters. We are integrating those groups into the decision making process. A good example is how we have worked towards bringing the controversy out of the whole LRT project. The reality is Metrolinx is building the LRT. It’s government financed and a government project. I think they were creating a situation where we weren’t able to work with Metrolinx to define construction schedules, to limit the construction disruption in terms of traffic and impacts to businesses in the neighbourhood. So, we arranged for Metrolinx to have conversations about how those impacts can be minimilized, how Metrolinx will deploy construction so when those impacts occur they will be as small as possible.
It’s taken many meetings but we are certainly making good headway.
EVV: What does the future look like?
AP: One of the other things I noticed about Ward 7 is that it doesn’t seem have a comprehensive capital plan. We are working on that. We have met with the different city and department staff. From a maintenance perspective, the city spends x number of dollars maintaining its infrastructure, but those maintenance issues need to get into the capital budget which in turn schedules projects over the long term. For example, you get the parks department to look at the playgrounds, which locations for health and safety and access reasons, need to be refurbished, relocated, whatever. So you do that, and that will span four, five, six years, whatever that is. And at least you know what you will be getting at some time in the future. Those numbers begin to form part of the capital picture long term. Then they get into the city budget and become a line item.
If you’re not in there pushing for dollars to be allocated, you’re just not going to be considered when the time comes to divvy up the money. It’s a big city, and all Councillors are fighting for their constituents. That’s my job.
So as an example, we met with the city basement flooding folks that also includes roads and infrastructure, and spoke about infrastructure renewal, but they did not have a lot on their docket as far as timing and rollout. There needed to be more preliminary work done in the past to push those issues forward. We now have a couple of areas where they are planning work. In the meantime, I get calls from residents saying that they have basement flooding. I have gone to the crews, and they say, we haven’t done any previous work here, and it’s not currently on a plan for the future. So we have been working to collect all of that information and developing a plan for parks and infrastructure renewal.
EVV: And how about development?
AP: We’ve pushed a plan to rehab the Gord and Irene Risk Community Centre. Everybody has said that they wanted to do some great things there in the future but nobody had defined any ideas to date. So, we held several meetings there and helped facilitate some ideas and identify them. That project should proceed sometime in the foreseeable future. And we need to figure out what we are going to do with Rowntree Mill Park. It’s a big meandering space, and I think we should have some more active recreation in there.
And what took up a lot of my time in the first three to four months on the job was gaining an understanding of all the development files — the Emery Village picture.
One application had been submitted to the city and been in the mix for about a year and a half. The municipal council had recommended a meeting, but the scheduling was held off because they had scheduling difficulties. It’s a very dense plan, four buildings. The proponents have brought down the density considerably and are maybe reworking their plan as I understand it.
We opened a bicycle lane that had been on the go, things like that. It’s been quite the year.
Now we’re going to get through the holiday season and give away a ton of toys to the kids.
EVV: Last word?
AP: Most of all, I’m looking forward to another busy year in 2020, serving the great residents of Ward 7, and wish everyone a safe and happy holiday season ahead.