Toronto Through the Eyes of Adam Giambrone
A quick Google search of Adam Giambrone turns up hundreds of hits about his political career: he was elected to council when he was just 26; he's a former president of the federal New Democratic Party; he's the chair of the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC); he speaks several languages; and he's toured the world as an archaeologist. All that and the guy's in his early thirties.
With a municipal election on the horizon and some city residents tweeting about Giambrone as their dream mayoral candidate, we decided to take a few moments to catch up with the busy city councillor to talk about growing up in Toronto, why he loves the TTC and whether he's really considering a run for David Miller's chair.
What was it like growing up in Toronto?
I was a city kid. I grew up in the Dufferin and Bloor neighbourhood and attended Dewson and Lord Lansdowne Public Schools before attending Harbord. I was lucky to grow up across the street from a large group of kids with local parks nearby where we could play hockey, baseball or cricket.
At school I enjoyed being in classes where letters were sent home to parents in 15 to 20 languages. I remember travelling with my friends on the subway and then the old Spadina 77 bus to attend Lord Lansdowne which was an excellent school.
Later, as a teen and university student, I spent the summers working in the education department of the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM).
After studying anthropology and working around the world as an archaeologist, you transitioned into local politics. Why?
I've lived in Montreal for school and worked in North Africa and the Middle East as an archaeologist with the ROM, University of Manitoba and the Canterbury Archaeological Trust. While I have lived and worked in many places, Toronto has always been my home and my neighbourhood has always been very important to me.
I've always been interested in participating in my community and municipal politics is a good way to do that. Many of the services we rely on every day are delivered by the city and so it seemed like a good way to accomplish things that were important to me and the residents of my community.
If you could tell City Hall to do one thing right now, what would it be?
In a word, "focus". We still have a year left in this term of council and it's crucial that we focus on the good work we agree must be done, particularly in the context of budgetary challenges we know we'll be facing. Of course, as Chair of the TTC, I would have to point out that we have to continue our progress on Transit City and the ridership growth initiatives that have already been so successful. The upcoming municipal election campaign will be where we renew and broaden our collective vision, but for now, we must work together to really deliver.
Is there any truth to the twitter rumour that you're considering a run for mayor?
Yes, I've been giving it some thought. I've been talking to my supporters and I've been encouraged by what I've heard from many of them. Running for Mayor, if you're serious, is not something you enter into lightly and not something you can do without lots of help and support from the community and its leaders.
Being the Chair of the TTC, is it safe to assume you take transit to get around the city?
The TTC was always my main way of getting around and still is. I'm on the TTC several times a day. Sometimes, I may need to rent a car for trips out of town or use a taxi to get groceries home, but those are the exceptions. I'll often take a long walk to get some exercise and clear my mind. I also cycle, although maybe not as much as I used to; it can be a challenge to get from downtown to Scarborough to Etobicoke, sometimes all in the same day. But I still enjoy it and bike when it's practical.
Describe an ideal afternoon in the city.
I enjoy exploring neighbourhoods across the city and spending time with friends and family. The best way to answer this is probably to recount a Sunday afternoon I spent just over a month ago. We (my partner and I) started by taking the Queen streetcar to Mimico, had lunch and explored Mimico and the historic former Lakeshore Lunatic Asylum (which is being converted by Humber College into a new campus). It is a beautiful series of brick buildings built in the late 19th century. We ended the day with dinner in Bloor West Village. That was a great day.
Do you have any favourite places to eat or hangout in the city?
You'll find me out all over the city, but I love my neighbourhood because I have so many neighbours and friends there, many of whom I grew up with.
If someone's new to the city, what's the one place you'd suggest they check out?
I'd probably tell them to check out the ROM, but perhaps I'm a little biased.
When you think of Toronto, what three words come to mind?
Collaborative. Confident. Connected.
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