Election Recap: What Does Malvern Want?
By Athena Narsingh
After a strongly contested municipal election there are some Torontonians who are concerned that policies will never change. Many residents of Malvern feel the same way and are cautious of a new direction at City Hall, along with unchanged leadership within their own Ward 42. What is worrying for some Malvern residents is whether the important issues they care about will actually be resolved…or at least one would think so.
Less than two months ago a City Council candidate debate occurred at the Malvern Community Centre where it was evident that change was the primary issue on the minds of residents. Problems were voiced by residents and the most prominent concerns including: public transportation, programs and services, the image of Malvern throughout the rest of the city, local business expansion, and employment. Yet when it came time for Malvern to speak at the polls a vast majority seemed content with the present situation, or their concerns were put to rest at the debate.
Throughout the Debate on Oct 15, the seven candidates commenced by introducing themselves and their platforms, outlining the transformations they envisioned for Ward 42. Current city councillor, Mr. Raymond Cho vouched for community safety, more efficient public transportation and more programs for young people, children and adults. He stressed continuing to work on the things he has done to help build the community for the last 19 years in public service. Mr. Cho was definitively re-elected with almost 53% of the vote.
Candidate Namu Ponnambalam wanted to see the residents of Malvern grow. He said this involves addressing issues like priority neighbourhoods, lack of employment opportunities, and similar to Mr. Cho, community safety and youth activities. He received 2% of the vote.
Mr. Shamoon Poonawala, a self-proclaimed Malvern businessman, wanted to see community safety dealt with by proper mediums to discourage crime. Mr. Poonawala also wanted to work with the School Boards to find solutions for children that commute from far away. He proclaimed that this was his home and wanted to make it better. His home gave him 3% of the vote.
Another candidate, Mr. Leon Saul first applauded the work Mr. Raymond Cho had done in the past, but stated it was time for a change. He wanted to create more opportunities for youth, while dealing with the negative stereotypes of Malvern youth in the media. Mr. Saul received 1.5% of the vote.
Ms. Ruth Tecle wanted changes to the “Official Plan” in the form of a 3-lens approach: enhancing existing features, creating improved systems, and preserving what works. She stressed that the physical landscape needs to be changed to address issues of transportation, employment and recreational space. Her 3-lens approach netted her 2% of the vote.
Mr. George Singh wanted to bridge the gap between the government and the people. For public transportation, he wanted to see a 24 hour system and routes that provide convenience. He envisioned programs for youth to be more constructive with an increased focus on music, sports and healthy living. The crowd cheered at the debate for this action plan, but ultimately 1.7% of the community voted for him.
Finally the candidate who was labeled by the Toronto Star as a possible dark horse in this riding, Mr. Neethan Shanmugarajah, presented his knowledgeable background in Immigration, child care and youth and seemed to leverage these as ways to relate to Malvern’s diverse community. He wanted to stimulate employment by creating career-based employment opportunities and training programs for youth, and establish Business Investment Areas (BIAs) to support small businesses. Despite generating the most buzz at the debate and enacting stirring rallies, it would seem that Mr. Shan received a message from the Malvern community that change was not what’s needed with only 34% of the vote.
Almost every resident at the debate was there to ask for, and in some cases demand, change. Yet it was clear from the election results that the majority of Malvern residents feel that what has been done, and what is presently being done in the community is enough for a sufficient way of life for the next four years. Some might call this phenomenon a double view, or perhaps the explanation is that the most vocal advocates for change do not represent the general opinion of the community.
Whatever the reasoning is, questions and concerns are still at the front of Malvern’s mind regarding issues like public transportation and an LRT system, more affordable housing, stimulating the local economy and changing the image of Malvern in the eyes of Torontonians. Only the next four years will tell whether these questions can, or will be answered.