News for July

Helen Calls for Action as Voters face removal from Election Rolls

July 30, 2006

Between 250,000 and 500,000 voters may be removed from election rolls, city clerk says Toronto, July 30, 2006 - Up to half a million voters may be tossed off the city's election rolls, because voters have not been verified by the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC), a provincial agency, according to a letter sent to municipal candidates by the city clerk's office, says Helen Kennedy candidate for City Councillor in Ward 20.

"Nothing is more central to a democracy than the right to vote, and it is the responsibility of public agencies to facilitate that right, not prevent people from participating." Kennedy is calling for an inquiry and an immediate decision to return to the election rolls of 2003.

"This is a very serious situation, as 16-30% of the 625,258 people who voted in 2003, and who would expect to vote as a matter of course in November's election, would now have to go to civic offices to register themselves," says Kennedy.

MPAC has been the centre of controversy on its handling of municipal property assessments, and its performance on checking out the voter's lists is now causing concerns at the clerk's office.

On Friday, Helen sent an open letter to the elections office and city clerk.

Facts and Sources:

  • Total number of registered voters in Toronto's 2003 election: 1,650,067. (Source)
  • Votes cast/counted in 2003 Toronto council elections: 625,258 (Source); 692,085 voted for a mayor. (Source)
  • Total number of registered voters in Ward 20's 2003 election: 42,374 (Source)
  • Votes cast/counted in 2003 Ward 20 council elections: 17,492 (Source)
  • The Municipal Property Assessment Corporation cannot confirm the eligibility of 16% of people on Toronto's list. That's 264,011 people in Toronto.
  • If the same percentage holds true in Ward 20 (16% cut) then Ward 20's list will be cut by 6,780 people.
  • Those Wards with large numbers of new immigrants may have up to 30% cut: that would be 12,712 people in Ward 20.

Read Helen's Open Letter to City Clerk and Director of Elections:

  1. Helen's Letter to City Clerk and Director of Elections

Helen Calls for Open Airport Consultation

July 18, 2006

"I am very concerned that you have made no announcement of public meetings as part of your review of the Toronto Port Authority. I would like to rectify this oversight by inviting you to meet publicly with Toronto waterfront residents and other Toronto citizens and stakeholders concerned about the use of the Island Airport and the conduct of the TPA."

Read Helen's Open Letter to Roger Tassé

  1. Helen's Letter to Roger Tassé

Helen Calls for a Change in Policy for the Declaration of Heat Alerts

Sunday, July 16, 2006

With the humidex pushing into the 40s and temperatures in the high 30s for the third successive day, Ward 20 Trinity-Spadina City Council candidate Helen Kennedy is calling on the City of Toronto to relax its definition of a heat alert so that the city's elderly, disabled, rooming house residents and the homeless can shelter at civic cooling centres.

"We need a more compassionate, flexible approach to heat alerts. We should not have to wait until there are casualties. We already know it's hot and people are suffering. If the cities of Sudbury and Kingston can declare heat alerts, so should we," said Kennedy. Kingston declares a level 1 heat alert when there are two or more successive days with the humidex breaking 36 degrees.

Toronto has adopted a technical definition for triggering a heat alert that takes into consideration mortality plus weather statistics. The Red Cross only kicks into action once the city declares an alert. While the past three days have seen temperatures in the 30s and humidex readings in the high 30s, only today did the city issue a heat warning. Metro Hall and East York, Etobicoke and North York Civic Centres were not open for cooling. The Red Cross was not distributing water.

"This weather is very tough if you are homeless and without resources," says Kennedy. "Human beings need shelter from the sun and heat, and water to drink. How expensive can it be to provide our fellow citizens with a cool place to sit and something to drink on days like this? We can't risk the health and safety of our most vulnerable Torontonians. We must act now."

Kennedy is also supporting the call for a Coroner's Inquest into the 2005 death of Richard Howell, one year after several rooming house deaths during last year's heat wave.

Ward 20 Should be Pilot Project for Greening of Toronto says Helen Kennedy

July 10, 2006

City Council needs to accelerate the greening of Toronto - and Ward 20 in the downtown core is the perfect place to start, says Helen Kennedy, candidate for City Council and community activist.

Speaking at a Joint Meeting of the Roundtable on the Environment and the Roundtable on a Beautiful City at Toronto City Hall tonight, Kennedy paid tribute to local activists such as Tim Grant who, supported unanimously by the Harbord Village Resident's Association board, is acting as a go-between to facilitate the introduction of solar power to the streets of Harbord Village, the Annex, and Seaton Village. She noted that while citizens' commitment to responsible environmental practices is already there in our communities, conservationists are working without sufficient municipal support.

"What we need is to harness the power and energy of the City to help them out. We need to use levers such as the tax base, deferred payment on loans, building permit requirements, and also plain, simple help for people to do the right thing," Kennedy said, adding that the City could hold free clinics to help citizens green their roofs, install solar panels, and inform them as other technologies become available.

"We need the City itself to green up", Kennedy concluded. "You've spoken of pilot projects. Consider Ward 20 as the site of your pilot project, because folks in this ward care about the world we leave for our children. And, it is intensely urban, containing everything from single family to high-rise towers, from commercial to institutional buildings."

Helen Kennedy Calls for Boycott of Toronto Island Airport

July 6, 2006

Today's Air Canada Jazz announcement of plans to resume flights and services to Ottawa and other cities from the airport at Toronto Island is outrageous and must be stopped, says Helen Kennedy, community activist, and candidate for City Councillor in Ward 20, where the Island Airport is located. She said the Jazz announcement, on top of Porter Airlines recent announcement of flights beginning this fall, demonstrate clearly that the Toronto Port Authority is out of control and underline the urgency of freezing the Island Airport operations immediately.

"It is time for the Minister of Transport to take action in shutting down the Port Authority, and for all of us who live in Toronto to take matters into our own hands - boycott Island Airport services to ensure that both Jazz and Porter stay grounded," says Kennedy, who has also called for a direct public transit link from the city centre to Pearson Airport.

"I believe the federal government, the provincial government and the City of Toronto should be putting whatever resources are required to create a direct link from downtown to Pearson Airport," she says. "It's a no-brainer."

Speaking out at an Air Canada Jazz press conference in downtown Toronto today, Kennedy noted the litany of problems associated with the Toronto Port Authority and the Island Airport operations, while stressing the widespread opposition of waterfront residents and businesses to resumption of commercial flights from the downtown core.

"Excessive noise, pollution, environmental impact, safety and security, waterfront revitalization – these remain major issues and concerns," she says. "There is a simple solution – the Minister of Transport should shut the Island Airport down, dismantle the Port Authority, and let the people of Toronto convert the Island Airport into a magnificent park – the Jane Jacobs Park – for all to enjoy."

Read online media coverage:

  1. CTV News - Air Canada Jazz will fly from Toronto Island (article and video)
  2. CBC News - Air Canada Jazz to resume Toronto Island service in face of boycott calls
  3. The Globe and Mail - Aerial dogfight in store for Toronto - Air Canada Jazz, Porter Air both aim for City Centre
  4. Toronto Star - Air Canada to resume Island service

  1. Sign a petition to close the Island Airport