City councillor Josh Matlow had been a thorn in the side of former mayor John Tory for a long time. Now, the midtown Toronto politician is vying to take the big chair and replace Tory at city hall come June 26.
Matlow was first elected to office as a school board trustee in 2003 before making the jump to city council in 2010.
The 47-year-old politician has made a name for himself at city hall by pressing decision-makers to make choices based on facts and not politics whether it was the Sheppard subway extension, the decision on whether or not to tear down the eastern portion of the Gardiner Expressway, or to allow for the consumption of alcohol in city parks.
Up until now, political forces greater than any one city councillor on a city council and province that tilts very conservative put Matlow in the minority. This could change if he is elected mayor.
Here is what Josh Matlow has to say
What was your first job?
My first job as a kid was delivering newspapers for the Toronto Star.
What’s the worst piece of career advice you’ve ever received?
Early in my career a political veteran advised me to “keep my head down, never speak up on controversial issues and stay out of trouble.” I clearly ignored that advice.
What do you love most about Toronto?
What do you dislike the most?
For far too long, when it comes to housing, architecture, infrastructure, public space and even basic services, our city has reached for the height of mediocrity. I know we can do so much better.
Where is the first place you send visitors?
There’s no one place. There are many, including Kensington Market, the Islands, the Bluffs, Rouge Park, Colonel Sam Smith Park and more!
Where is the best view in the city?
From the Toronto Islands.
What is your favourite special occasion restaurant?
Tao Northern Chinese Cuisine.
What is the last show you saw in Toronto?
When is the last time Josh Matlow took public transit in Toronto?
Have you ever commuted by bicycle in the city?
Where is your favourite place to get away from it all?
Gardiner Expressway – continue with hybrid option, yes or no?
We’re the only city in the world thinking of rebuilding an elevated expressway along our waterfront. Because it’s already crumbling, we should take this opportunity to rebuild the eastern part of the Gardiner at ground level, instead of putting it back up high. This will save millions of dollars and free up new land for housing.
Do you support the Ontario Place Thermé Spa project?
I stand with Torontonians and oppose selling off our public waterfront in exchange for a private spa.
What is your definition of affordable housing?
More housing options so that it’s possible for everyone to find a safe, healthy home in their budget.
What more can the city do to help those experiencing homelessness in Toronto?
As mayor, I will publicly declare homelessness an emergency and advocate to senior levels of government to increase funding for shelter and rent-geared-to-income housing. Plus, I’ll get the city back in the business of building its own affordable housing with Public Build Toronto, a new agency that will deliver affordable housing on city-owned lands at cost.
Does the city have a public safety problem? If so, what’s your solution?
People are feeling unsafe in the city these days. For instance, they feel like they need to stay alert when they’re out in public, and choose not to fall asleep on the TTC in the mornings like they used to. We can’t arrest our way out of violence. We have to invest in community programs, services and supports to address disadvantages like poverty, racism, mental health and addiction issues to provide opportunity and help prevent violence in the first place.
Are Toronto residents going to have to pay more in taxes to improve quality of life in the city? If not, what’s the answer?
Believe it or not, Toronto has the lowest tax rate of any municipality in the province. Our taxes have been held really low and our services are suffering for it. I think everyone in Toronto realizes we have to make some real choices about what kind of city we want to live in, and that we have to make small, smart investments through modest property tax increases to fund those priorities.
Is Doug Ford’s interference in the city causing a problem, yes or no?
When Premier Ford tries to sell off our public waterfront or move a public asset like the Science Centre even though Torontonians don’t agree with him, this is a problem. As mayor, I will stand up to Premier Ford and fight for Torontonians’ priorities.
What would you say is Toronto’s most iconic food?
Toronto doesn’t have a single iconic food and that’s one of the things I love about our city. We can experience every type of cuisine from around the world, right here. That all being said, I do appreciate the fact that, unlike in the States, our hot dog vendors barbecue, rather than boil, their hot dogs.
If you were to support a car-free zone in the city where would it be?
Everywhere road hockey is being played.
Is the city doing enough to battle the climate crisis? If not, what would you do differently?
We have a great, fact-based strategy called TransformTO which spells out how we get to zero emissions by 2040, but it doesn’t have dedicated funding. I want to put in a new corporate parking lot levy to raise money to fund our ambitious climate-action goals.
What should be done regarding public transit, the cuts and the low ridership?
Excellent transit is good for people, public health and the planet. We have to reverse the TTC cuts to make sure everyone who relies on this service can get to where they need to go in a safe, reliable and affordable way. The best way to boost ridership is to improve service.
What is your best quality?
I approach things with compassion and empathy.
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