Ward 27 candidate Megan McIver chooses her words carefully.
Thrown questions about transit, infrastructure and the LGBT community, she pauses before answering. But she does have firm ideas.
McIver, a former Ontario Liberal Party adviser who worked for two ministers of labour and a minister of finance, is jumping into the Ward 27 race because she wants in on the ground floor of one of Toronto’s fastest growing communities.
“A lot of development happens in this ward,” McIver says, noting that she also lives right across the street from Ward 27. “So for me, it’s about the city’s future.”
She believes that too much city planning happens on an ad hoc basis, with little thought to the increase in population that Toronto is expecting in the next several years. When asked if there was any planning specifically in Ward 27 that she thought was ad hoc, however, McIver says that she believes it’s not just here, but all over Toronto.
A major concern for McIver is what she describes as weak guidelines around Section 37 of the Planning Act, which allows developers and city councillors to negotiate for improvements to the city or additional funding to be provided for city matters as part of a building development deal.
“We should be directing those funds to make sure that our already stretched and aged infrastructure is in place, to make sure that we can take on the increasing population,” she says. “Those dollars are often not spent in that way.” City council did adopt guidelines around implementing and negotiating Section 37 in 2007, according to a report released in 2014, but the authors of the report acknowledge there have been problems related to “clarity, consistency and transparency.”
One thing that McIver doesn’t have to think about long is which transit plan she supports — that of mayoral candidate John Tory, which she believes could be put in place the fastest. However, Xtra spoke to McIver before some of the practical problems of the Smart Track plan were revealed, including that one area of the proposed new line has only a single track.
McIver counts herself as an LGBT ally and understands concerns that the “gaybourhood” might be losing its identity. “It’s not only a concern here,” she adds, noting that she is hearing the same concerns throughout the ward.
She thinks that we need to start developing our neighbourhoods by looking at what we have. “My vision is that we would, as a city, look at infrastructure first, what’s in place, [and] not only here in Ward 27.”