Last week I sat down with Karen Sun, another candidate for Ward 19, replacing the departing Joe Pantalone. We talked about Ossington and last year’s restaurant and foodservice moratorium and the restrictions on entrepreneurial ventures which were passed to follow, as well as the surrounding parks, and residential areas, and the great mix of communities within the Ossington area.
Karen comes from a ‘green’ background, having a Bachelors degree in environmental science, and then a Masters in urban planning – both quite useful skills in a city councillor. She worked, earlier in her career, for the City of Toronto’s forestry department and then moved on to working on other issues.
It was hard to find some part of municipal life she hadn’t worked in as she mentioned topic after topic that she’s had some interest or been a part of including Heritage Toronto, Good Jobs for All Coalition, the Toronto Open Budget Initiative and many others. Most recently she’s been the Executive Director of the Toronto branch of a non-profit human rights organization, Chinese Canadian National Council which helps build links between the Chinese community and others within the City of Toronto.
Her interest definitely was in parks as the topic came up numerous times, including discussions about Trinity Bellwoods, and some ideas on revitalizing the stretch of Bloor Street around Christie Pits. Outside of this particular Ward, she discussed working on a city-wide parks plan.
We talked quite a bit about last year’s restaurant moratorium, pushed through without debate by our current councilman and Mayoral candidate, Joe Pantalone. In her walks through the community and door-knocking, she says the topic comes up regularly, and many didn’t know what had happened, but knew that something had. She expressed to me that there were many ways to have solved the problem, and the outright ban, without community consultation, wasn’t the right approach. It also didn’t address the specific issue – which was the noise being created on the side streets to Ossington by people leaving bars at closing time and she presented some excellent ideas, some more challenging to implement than others, to address this. It was clear she had been talking to the residents in the neighbourhood, and had a pretty good grasp of this particular challenge.
I also learned a good deal about how the local election process works, and the party politics which are inevitably involved in these type of races.
As the campaign progresses I’m certain Karen will keep us updated on her positions on local issues, and we’ll pass along key information as it comes. If you want to follow what she’s doing, keep an eye on her FaceBook page and her Twitter account, or if you’re old school just sign up for her email newsletter.
It’s exciting that Ward 19 has some young and energetic candidates looking to change the community. Keep an eye here for more candidate profiles to come.