In the lead up to the 2022 Toronto municipal election, CJRU is reaching out to all candidates in the downtown wards.
For more than 35 years, Nicki Ward has been an advocate for 2SLGBTQ+ rights, disability rights, accessibility and climate action in Toronto Centre.
“I’m deeply concerned about the issues facing Toronto Centre and Ward 13, and there’s a fair amount of overlap between the provincial legislation and the city of Toronto.”
Ward previously ran as a Green Party candidate in the Ontario election this past June, and said she brings to this election a “balance between strong social sensibility and responsibility, but also a deep experience in education and in the business community.”
As a longtime resident of Toronto Centre, Ward said it needs “a qualified candidate across party lines” with a demonstrated history of serving the community.
Ward, who was the first trans woman on the 519 board, was also instrumental in helping usher in Toronto’s first trans march on Yonge Street in 2009.
If elected, Ward said Toronto Centre requires a city councillor who has the expertise and “higher-level management skills” to serve what she calls an “area the size of a small city.”
For affordable housing, she said “co-op housing is sustainable housing that actually works.”
“The largest landlord in Toronto is Toronto,” said Ward. “Part of our platform is to, where ever possible, transfer those properties out of the control or mismanagement of Toronto community housing, and into the control of people either through by virtue of co-op or land trusts.”
Further, Ward said as councillor she will ensure Toronto Community Housing uses its full vacancy for those requiring shelter.
To help the ward’s vulnerable populations, she said she will help introduce more specialized housing for those facing mental health crises and addiction, as well as supportive housing for the elderly and residents with disabilities.
For those living with disabilities, Ward said Toronto Centre is “uncoordinated and difficult to get around, especially for those with disabilities.”
She hopes to alleviate the gridlock of the downtown core and plans to institute a citizen-led watchdog group. This group would help those with disabilities call out dangerous methods in several development sites and areas. This plan would hold the city and construction companies to account, Ward said.
For climate action, Ward said Toronto Centre has ” an opportunity to present to the rest of world what urban environmentalism looks like.”
She mentions that theres an “enormous amount” of land on the top of buildings that can be used for green roofs.
Also, Ward said there needs to be an re-invention of Toronto Centre’s recycling program.
She said urban areas can help lead the fight against climate change and affect national efforts.
“Think globally, act locally,” said Ward. She believes Toronto Centre can be carbon neutral before Canada’s deadline of 2050.
As the ward prepares for the upcoming October election, Ward is encouraging residents to vote.
“Vote – you can make a difference,” said Ward. “If nothing changes, nothing changes. Low voter turnout supports business as usual.”
Toronto’s election is scheduled for Oct. 24.
More information of Nicki Ward’s platform can be found here.
Listen to Nicki Ward’s full interview: