Talking Toronto

Sunny Eren 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: Sunny Eren, Ward 40.

Why did you decide to run for city council?
Why did I decide to run, well I felt over the course of the last few years that violence in the streets of Toronto have been increasing. I also felt that taxes have been going up and yet the city services have been going down. Clearly something was wrong and basically I felt I needed to speak up and try to change things. I felt I could no longer just sit back and watch or just complain that maybe I can do something to make our lives better, so with that I entered the race.

What are the significant issues that people in your ward are facing, and what do you plan to do to address those issues?
I feel violence on our street is a significant issue, so is the TTC and taxes amoung other pressing needs. I like to see people in Ward 40 start to come together as a community, to start to pull together and work to help one another. Of course more police would be nice, but they are only a single solution, people and the community must work in conjunction with law enforcement to stop the people dying on our streets. Also market assessment of land value and thus our taxes is very much a close door system. We need transparency, we need the government to work with the people and show how our tax dollars are spent and a full breakdown of every penny. The TTC needs serious investment and yet there seems to be no political will to spent and fight to get as much money as possible. Finally another issue i like to raise is the access to park and open spaces in the city. I think the youth today is being lost, the community needs to start looking to youths as an investment to the future.

What are some of the city-wide issues that you feel most engaged with and why?
City wide I am a major proponent of the TTC. It needs money and a lot of it. If you look at the issues we're facing such as pollution, smog, traffic congestion, access etc... a lot of the issues lead to one conclusion. We need to invest in public transit In fact the only serious method in solving all these things is to invest into the TTC infrastructure. Garbage is an issue in that the only way in the future long term solution is to recycle. I think this need will only grow in the next few decades, it won't go away.

What is your larger vision for Toronto in the next few years?
Realistically, I feel that the city is at a crossroads. We need to make some hard choices, but if we do these choices now, then things might improve in the future. We have to stop thinking short term, and invest in the future. Clearly the financial aspect of the city is a problem. But if you realise that the laws that governed the city was made back in the 19th century, you can understand that our founding fathers never imagined a city as vast and as complex as we have today. Clearly the province and the federal government have a responsibility to the people of Toronto and of the GTA. The GTA relies on the city of Toronto as much as Toronto relies on them. We are all interconnected, and thus is makes no sense that funding and support in the GTA is split as it is. The province and the federal government needs to re-evaluate those old laws and bring them into the 21st century, because the alternative will be either higher taxes or crumbling city. The status quo isn't good enough and slowly the city will fall apart. Also we need to start thinking as communities helping ourselves. The city is racked with so much they need to do, I think if the community works hand in hand with the city things might get done better at the grassroots level than currently.

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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