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Scarborough councillors set goals for 2015

Stopping McNicoll bus garage plan key priority for newly elected councillor Jim Karygiannis

Scarborough Mirror By Mike Adler December 31, 2015

For Scarborough’s city councillors, 2015 looks like a year to keep doing stuff they did before and, just maybe, something they only dreamed of doing.

Not so for Jim Karygiannis, the only new city councillor for the area. Topping his to-do list are two things his constituents may want, but which his most of his colleagues would say are impossible.

Job One: Stop and then move the proposed McNicoll Avenue bus garage, which Toronto’s transit commission says is desperately needed, not to mention a done deal.

Job Two: Start building the Sheppard Subway extension into Scarborough, or at least “start a serious conversation” about that with the public.

“That’s where my head’s at right now,” said the former Scarborough-Agincourt MP, elected a councillor in October and determined to stick to what voters told him to do.

On Sheppard Avenue, where a light-rail project is approved for construction in 2017 but somewhat unpopular in his ward, Karygiannis may have allies.

Fellow Agincourt councillor Norm Kelly signalled during the election campaign he’d try to get the subway extension on track, and Raymond Cho supports building it to as far east as Meadowvale Avenue – at some future point. “I’m still hoping,” Cho said earlier this month.

Chin Lee, another North Scarborough councillor, has said he’s willing to delay funding for the Sheppard East LRT line if that will help build SmartTrack, a surface rail plan he supports.

Karygiannis’s argument is that North Scarborough deserves its share of subway tunnels, and such an extension will cost more to build 20 years from now.

On the bus garage, planned near a concentration of seniors on Kennedy Road, Karygiannis may find himself alone, but he insisted consultations “are still going on,” and the TTC is looking at other sites.

Scarborough Centre Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker, named a deputy mayor for Scarborough by Mayor John Tory, has the dual task of helping recruit companies to patch Toronto’s denuded tree canopy and of being council “champion” for the so-called Scarborough Subway extension.

He quickly announced a campaign to push for approval of an extra station along that extension – replacing the old Scarborough Rapid Transit line from Kennedy Station – at Danforth and Eglinton avenues, a proposal that provokes debate but which De Baeremaeker calls “common sense.”

The extension route and its station locations must be approved during 2015 if the project is to have a hope of finishing a decade from now.

Other councillors from the area sound happy enough to get behind Tory’s efforts to build SmartTrack and reduce traffic congestion.

Many will return to small local projects – adding sidewalks and dog parks, sprucing up playgrounds and parks, road repairs – most residents will welcome.

Some projects will be large ones. Cho will meet ward residents to see what they want in a community centre in Joyce Trimmer Park. Michelle Berardinetti will do the same on an expansion of the West Scarborough Neighbourhood Community Centre and a new design for Kennedy Station.

Berardinetti, who has four Neighbourhood Improvement Areas in her ward – the city used to call them Priority Neighbourhoods – wants the city to give developers incentives to build in them.

It’s tough for these areas to get the development making other parts of Toronto prosperous, she said.

“Development begets development. But when you don’t have any, you just don’t have any.”

You also don’t have what’s called Section 37 money, which developers hand to councillors when they’re allowed to significantly increase density with a project.

Certain councillors, then, have a lot more money to spend on local improvements than Berardinetti, who wants Section 37 fundds shared across the city. Otherwise, she said, “you’re continuing to develop have and have-not neighbourhoods.”