07/06/10 – By JORDAN MAXWELL
Complete streets, development and gentrification, art space, waste, and renewable energy: these are just a handful of things that Frank De Jong says would be subject to change if he was elected councillor of Ward 18 on election day – October 25.
The former Ontario Green Party leader and 12-year resident of Bloordale has begun his campaign for improvement and says he’s ready to bring a change to the Davenport area.
“I care for this part of town,” said De Jong. “I live here by choice and I have a lot of ideas to improve the neighbourhood.”
What are these ideas? Well, De Jong said that it begins with having complete streets.
“Far too many people use the ward as a freeway to get into the city,” he said. “We need to redesign Toronto roads to provide safer spaces for pedestrians, bikes, transit and cars.
De Jong also admitted that 46 per cent of people living in Ward 18 do not drive. That means that there are more cars coming from other areas of the city, using the ward as a convenient shortcut to get to where they have to go.
A step such as this would ultimately cut down cars lanes to add bike lanes on roads, De Jong said, but it would make the streets safer and more liveable for the members of Ward 18.
Apart from the traffic moving through the streets, De Jong wants to improve the traffic on the streets as well.
“We need to have more neighbourhood businesses providing local services to members of the community so they don’t have to leave the Ward,” he said. “The idea is to bring goods to people not people to goods.”
Nevertheless, there are some businesses that can’t be improved. One in particular: The House of Lancaster, which is located near Bloor Street West and Lansdowne Avenue
De Jong said that if elected, he would work to close down the strip club, which he added was a hub for crime, drugs, and guns and, furthermore, degrading to women.
If successful, Bloordale would have just another plot of vacant land to be developed, however De Jong also has a plan for that too and it’s beyond commercial and residential development.
“We need to allow artists and musicians access to underused and vacant buildings for studio, gallery and performance spaces.’”
De Jong added that artists don’t have much to spend so it’s better than letting these spots go to waste.
It seems that the only thing he wants to go to waste is garbage and recycling. De Jong said that up to 40 per cent of total garbage is not being recycled, which is something he wants to change.
Unfortunately, many of these initiatives cost money but De Jong mentioned a few ideas to alleviate some of their financial burdens. One idea: the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program.
This program works by having the city front the cost of renewable electricity system and liquidating it on a person’s municipal tax bill. The city would set up a financial district which issues low interest bonds, Property owners would in-turn buy these bonds and pay back the loan through a 20-year payment plan.
De Jong says this will take the pressure off of cities and makes life a lot easier and healthier for residents.
De Jong’s final area surrounds taxing land instead of buildings.
“Instead of taxing the building or house, you should tax the whole land because it discourages businesses or homeowners from renovating their houses because it also raises their property taxes in the process. That’s perverse taxation and that’s dumb.”
Frank De Jong’s campaign website can be found at www.votefrankdejong.ca