Talking Toronto

Michael Kilpatrick Talks Toronto

With less than a month until this city's municipal elections, it's not hard to miss the deluge of campaign signs that are littering neighbourhood lawns. With 275 people running across Toronto for the position of City Councillor, finding out about each and every single candidate (even out of the few running in your own ward) can get daunting.

In an effort to learn more about the people trying to run the future of this city, I sent out dozens of emails to candidates trying to learn about their motivations and aspirations. A few responded, many didn't. Over the next few days, I'm going to take a look at the few that did.

Today's candidate: Michael Kilpatrick, Ward 35.

Why did you decide to run for city council?
While there are many reasons, here's the catalyst...

After two decades of serving our community as public servant and community volunteer, it was a near drowning incident that catalyzed my need to change the way City Hall treats its citizens.

One morning seven children entered the deep-end of W.A. Porter pool to learn to tread water for the first time. Within seconds the swimming lesson turned into a parent's worst nightmare.

It took a parent's call for help to get the instructor to notice a young girl gasping for air. Moments later, another parent and I pulled two other struggling children from the water. One of them was my son.

When I asked the instructor why there weren't more staff to supervise the children, she said she had asked for more, but was told there weren't any available.

As a parent if we want to ensure a safe environment for our children, we must not only watch over our children, but apparently we must also watch over the politicians who allocate resources to our communities.

What are the significant issues that people in your ward are facing, and what do you plan to do to address those issues?
Suburban communities of Toronto are at a significant disadvantage when it comes to the communities services such as children's services, day care, schools and even health care. Some of these concerns have been documented in reports that can be obtained on a website:

As for how to address these issues, again there is not easy fix. However, the first step is always recognition of the problem. The second step is searching for comprehensive solutions to the complex problems facing urban residents.
Briefly, we must begin the process of revitalizing our urban habitat (economically, socially, culturally).

What are some of the city-wide issues that you feel most engaged with and why?
As for City-wide issues far too much attention has been place on Toronto's issues, such as the waterfront and Toronto island - to the exclusion of the issues facing communities outside of the downtown core.

If there is one pervasive City-wide issue, it is Toronto's treatment of its suburban neighbours. A city as culturally, socially, economically diverse as Toronto, cannot be governed from an isocentric perspective that marginalizes some communities while favouring others.

What is your larger vision for Toronto in the next few years?
If Toronto is to become the "world class" Canadian city it aspires to, it must come to terms with its larger amalgamated domain. Fundamental to rebuilding our city is embracing the unique character of Toronto's diverse communities. This is the principle behind the concept of "community-first", where each community decides for itself what it wants or needs, and where the government is there to satisfy those needs. While there are practicial circumstances where a top-down approach may be warranted, it is not to be the dominate mode of governance.

blogTO does not necessarily endorse any of the candidates profiled. Candidates were selected based on the ease of finding their contact information on the web, their willingness to reply to my first email, and a bit of random serendipity.

The Toronto municipal elections take place on November 13, 2006. To find out more on how to vote or how to get involved, visit the city elections website.

(Image: Payam Rajabi)

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