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Giving Voice to the Lakeside Communities of South Scarborough and Toronto East

(The Bluffs)

What Is The Voice?

The Voice (formerly known as The Bluffs Voice), published by Bluffs Community News, is  the Only Local Paper  covering the entire length of Toronto's Kingston Road!

First publishyed in December 2017 asSouth Scarborough’s newest community newspaper,  founded on the principles of solutions journalism and community engagement for positive impact. Published 12 times a year, distributed for free by volunteers  and  paid for by our advertisers.

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Toronto's Kingston Road - End to EndToronto's Kingston Road - End to End

Municipal Council size Notwithstanding these Candidates for Council are committed to representing You

Posted 10/5/2018

by Teresa Wright
    The Voice has promised to be a sounding board for our communities - including Our Politics. The upcoming election for the city of Toronto, meant that we have been planning a piece for this September issue to help you get to know your candidates. To say that the past week or so has brought many unseen challenges in executing this goal, is an understatement. At the beginning of September I reached out to all registered City Council candidates in the then four (of 25) Municipal Wards: 19, 20, 24 and 25. After the     September 10th Superior Court of Justice ruling by Justice Edward Belobaba, we re-issued our call to share with you, The Voice readers, despite the uncertainty.
While I wished to offer more time, a print publication does have a hard and firm deadline. In fairness to the registered candidates who did not respond in time to be included in this piece - this City Election Campaign has become, to be blunt, a sh**-show!
    That being said, please let me introduce you to some of your candidates … as you are certainly already aware, the final decision as to how many wards the City of Toronto will be voting to elect councilors to is likely to be up in the air for the next few weeks. Nonetheless, the following candidates have thrown their hats in the ring to represent You, no matter the Ward number, no matter the boundary, no matter the size of the constituency. Some of Your candidates have placed a campaign advertisement with us in this issue – please be understanding and forgiving if the Ward they’ve chosen to identify themselves with does not match the final outcome of the provincial-municipal-judicial-constitutional challenge. At the end of the day, these are the people who have stood up and said, I will represent my community, no matter how the provincial government or the city of Toronto, or the court of appeal, defines it.
    I extended an invitation to answer four questions. I believe the answers will offer a fair insight into the character and values of these individuals who are offering to represent your interests.
The three questions, below, are followed by the responses we received.
1. How do you define poverty? Given that, how would you define affordable living?
2. What percentage of your Ward’s population do you believe either lives in poverty or struggles to live within their means?
3. What solution(s) do you believe will most significantly impact affordability (housing, food, health, transportation) for constituents in your ward?
4. What place will nature, in particular the preservation of natural habitats, have in your representation if you are elected?

**Neethan Shan, Candidate for Toronto City Councillor Ward 25, responded to our questions after we had already sent the paper to the press. Here are his responses, followed by those that were published in the September issue of THE VOICE. No other candidate came forward with responses, or reached out for more time to communicate to you, our readers**

  • Living in Poverty means not being able to provide for the very basic needs of food, shelter and clothes and being not able to afford to live a decent quality of life. Affordable Housing is a broad term as affordability is measured based on income of the individual/family. When more than 30% of their income is spend on housing, it becomes unaffordable. 
  • 2. 25% to 35% 
  • In order to make life more affordable for constituents in my Ward, we need to increase affordable housing options, especially for seniors. It is also important to strengthen existing income security programs offered by all levels of government. Increasing opportunities for affordable healthy food and free recreational programs can also improve quality of lives. It is important to continue creation of sustainable employment opportunities with decent pay and safe working conditions. Access to Transportation is definitely a key social determinant of health, so having affordable rapid transit system in Scarborough is critical. I have been an advocate for all these systemic solutions to poverty for two decades and I will continue to advocate in the upcoming term as well. 
  • The preservation of nature and the protection of environment are important issues to me. I believe that we need to defend our parks and protect Green Spaces such as Rouge National Park. I plan to continue working with organizations such as the Toronto Environmental Alliance and Toronto Regional Conservational Authority to ensure that we cherish and protect the environment for our children. I have also served on the Zoo’s Board of Directors for the last year and a half and made it a priority to ensure the conservation, welfare and compassionate care of animals. 





Ward 20 or 38
Curtis Smith: I am one of the only Ward 20 candidates to have signed the Pledge on Poverty Reduction ( that includes increases in affordable & supportive housing units; increased shelter spaces; reduced TTC fares for low-income adults; new & subsidized child care spaces; and new recreation program spaces.
I believe that implementing these initiatives will have positive effects throughout our community. These effects won’t just be direct ones, either; there will be indirect positive impacts on economic/business development and public safety as well.
I am a huge supporter of our natural environment and would be looking to put appropriate measures in place to safeguard the Bluffs, among other locations.

Gerard Arbour: Hello to The Voice. With respect to the questions asked, I will be as succinct as possible with the uncertainty of Ward 20 or 38 in which I am running. Thought you should know I signed the Candidate Pledge on Poverty Reduction. Please note the 3 leading mayoral candidates signed as well. In it I pledged, if elected to Toronto Council, "to work with community, business and faith leaders to reduce poverty and inequality in Toronto and to support the full funding and implementation of Toronto's Poverty Reduction Strategy...including the following approved actions: 1. 7200 new supportive housing units, at least 8000 new deeply affordable rental housing units, and 1000 new shelter spaces. 2. Reduced TTC fares for an additional 157,000 lower income adults. 3. 11,500 new child care spaces, including 5,000 subsidized spaces. 4. 40,000 new recreation program spaces.
Regular Community meetings and engagement, and identifying Community Leaders, will help me keep in touch with areas in Scarborough Southwest that need support. Such initiatives as food and clothing collections will be promoted to help those in need as I have done in the past.
With respect to natural habitat habitation preservation, we need to look no further than the Scarborrough Waterfront Project to keep attention of the scope and magnitude of this trail plan. As minimum as possible ecological footprint will be supervised, and habitat preservation will be paramount. One of my campaign platforms will be to be on the board of the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority to monitor, have a say and update residents on the project. I should also note that one of my pet projects is Toronto Wildlife Centre and the rehabilitation of displaced/injured wildlife to a safe return to natural environs.
Another important preservation of natural habitat will be to protect and maintain the tree canopy in Scarborough Southwest as it relates to natural replacement and maintenance with development of residential and other properties. The name is Arbour after all, will be looking out for the trees. Regular shoreline and park Community cleanups will be part of my mandate as well.

Robert McDermott:
1. Poverty is a state of insufficiency, a lack of money, the inability to support ones self sufficiently, poor, a lack of goods or services. Affordable housing is housing within a person's financial ability to pay. Normally, one-third of a person's household income is considered to be affordable.
2. This is a tough question. The research I have done in the ward indicates roughly 40% lives at the poverty level or struggles to get by in their day-to-day lives.
3. We need to build more af fordable housing in Scarborough. There has not been any rental apartment buildings built in 40 years. The current Toronto city council is more concerned about catering to the whims of high-end condo developers and ignoring lower and middle income families who need rental accommodation. There needs to be much more collaboration between the public and private sector on housing issues.
4. I have strong environmental values and would take a firm and bold position on preserving our green space and water. Part of my election campaign platform is to enhance the City of Toronto's recycling program and to reduce the amount of waste at landfill sites, which would be beneficial to us all and contribute to a safer and cleaner environment.

Michelle Holland-Berardinetti:
1. Many people and groups define poverty in different ways but individuals and families who struggle economically to meet even their most basic needs reflects how poverty affects people’s lives. It is unacceptable in our country and City that up to 1 in 7 people live within this definition of poverty. Affordable living can also be defined differently but those having to pay more than 30% of their income on shelter places unacceptable pressure on them to meet other basic needs as well as expenditures that may fall out of the definition of a “need.” All people deserve an income that allows them to care for themselves and their families.
2. Recent census data indicates that although the numbers vary widely across the ward, using the definition of 30% or more being spent on shelter, 40% or more residents and families would find it challenging economically. Rather than determining percentages our main focus must be on working to reduce poverty or economically challenging living conditions for people in our ward and across the City.
3. The City has developed an extensive anti-poverty strategy that I have supported from the beginning along with our Neighbourhood Improvement Area program for example that seeks to ensure that all residents have access to City services regardless of economic status. Affordable, efficient and accessible transit is also very important and I have always made this a priority. The City cannot meet this challenge alone so I will continue to fight for a comprehensive approach to challenging poverty that must include all levels of government. Working collaboratively, there is simply no reason why all three levels of government cannot meet these challenges.
4. I have always been a strong supporter of preserving our natural habitats. As Chair of the Parks and Environment Committee I worked extensively on the City’s ravine strategy, I lead the initiative that had Toronto designated by Bee City Canada as the first “Bee City” (pollinator friendly) city and my efforts to enhance our parks and green space have been part of my priorities since I was first elected.

Ward 24
Priyanth Nallaratnam:
1. In Scarborough, there’s two types of poverty that’s prevalent: situational and urban. Situational poverty happens when people are either temporarily stuck in a situation where they cannot pay of the bills due to spike in rent or other unfortunate events. Urban poverty on the other hand is much more common as we see many in Scarborough suffer from the lack of services due to population density. The spike in gun crimes and influx of drugs could also be attributed to urban poverty. Absolute poverty does exist in Scarborough but rare (will increase if not checked). Affordable living therefore should efficiently (and equitably) take into account the costs of vital services and essential needs for an individual and/or a family.
2. At least 40-55% of the ward suffers from urban, situational and absolute poverty. This number will increase if our city fails to prioritize worsening conditions in Scarborough.

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Plot This Answer: August 2018 issue:

Posted 10/5/2018

Situated near St. Clair and Victoria Park Avenues, in 1863 it was established as a Post Office to serve this rural area, at the time commonly known as Strangford. The William Devemish House was built in 1857. Born in London, England, William Devenish came to Canada in 1794, married Jane Webster at Niagara in 1800, and settled here on an 80 hectare farm lot in the forest in 1803. A carpenter, he built the first frame barn in Scarborough in 1807. He served for twenty-seven years as assessor, tax collector and commissioner for the township prior to its incorporation, and also as a Justice of the Peace until his death in 1856.

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No Matter how You Slice it,It's a Big City

Posted 8/21/2018

Toronto's Scrapped 47 WardsToronto's Scrapped 47 Wardsby Matthew Medland
    A last-minute-replacement-piece about the upcoming City of Toronto Municipal election. Like so many Torontonians, we were slowly ramping up, a fall election on the horizon simply meant it was time to start taking notes. The Voice’s readership, as we’d understood it, was to be spread across seven city wards. On your behalf, it was time for us to start to get to know the players, the new wards, the incumbents, the newcomers and learn who was moving from one ward to another.
    Sometimes this digital-smart-world is wonderful. No need to ‘keep the line free’ or wait around for a return call – just let the emails, tweets and texts fly. Voice mail happily ping-pongs between our smart-devices, while we’re occupied with the sprinklings of text and instant messages. We were busy making our introductions, proposing our questions, reserving advertising space, and creating the connections that we would be relying on to serve you on City Council. The October 22nd Municipal election is only two issue dates away!
    Always expect the unexpected? Indeed! Nonetheless, Premier Doug Ford delivered us all quite a surprise. It was July 26th when he and his Progressive Conservative team, introduced legislation to reduce the number of electoral wards in The City of Toronto. Not only a reduction from the proposed new council of 47, but from the existing 44 to a slight 25.

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Creative Writing Prompts: A Purple Dragonfly ...

Posted 8/21/2018

by Genevieve Clovis
Giselle could hardly sit still all through breakfast even though pancakes were her favourite food. She scoffed them down as quick as she could barely tasting them at all. As soon as she finished she jumped up, did her dishes, and urged her parents to hurry.
Her mother laughed her beautiful tinkling laugh. “There’s no rush my love,” she tried to assure Giselle but Giselle wouldn’t listen. She was too excited.
Today was her twelfth birthday and for a fairy it was one of the most important days. Giselle had talked of nothing else all week and now that the day was finally here, she felt she would die if she had to wait even one moment longer.
“Come on, come on, come on!” Giselle pleaded pushing her parents down the old dirt road that lead to the great river. Red and yellow flowers lined the road providing
a welcome shade from the warm summer sun. Finally, at the edge of the river, the hatchery came into view.
Giselle let out a yelp of excitement and raced ahead. She pranced outside the door waiting for her parents to arrive, then they all went in together. It was warm and dark and loud with the fluttery buzz of hundreds of wings and the shouted instructions of the trainers.
Giselle approached the desk to the right with a rather stern looking woman sitting behind it. When the woman looked up Giselle said, “My name is Giselle Starflower.
Today is my twelfth birthday. I’m going to pick a purple dragonfly as my companion and we’re going to fly all the way across the great river and maybe even around the whole world.”
The woman looked over her glasses at Giselle and exhaled a short huff of air through her nose. Slowly she pushed her glasses back into place and looked down at the appointment book in front of her. “Giselle Starflower,” she muttered as her finger ran down the page finally stopping near the bottom. “You won’t be flying anywhere today
Honey,” the woman said her lip twitching in what might have been a poorly contained smile. “You’re appointment to choose a companion isn’t until this afternoon, and your first flying lesson won’t be until
Giselle’s shoulders slumped slightly as she took the news in, but just as quickly
they straightened up again and her smile returned. “That’s only a very small hiccup. It won’t stop me from following my dreams.”
Giselle started to turn back to her parents but a commotion from further in the hatchery stopped her. The fluttery buzz became even more chaotic and was joined by frantic
shouts and the pounding of feet. Four trainers in green and brown uniforms were sprinting down the hallway chasing after a loose dragonfly. The creature zipped its way down the corridor easily outpacing the trainers and deftly avoiding any attempts to catch him.
A huge grin split Giselle’s face as the young purple dragonfly came to an abrupt halt and landed right in front of her. She reached out a hand for the dragonfly to smell and it pushed its head into her palm for scratches. Giselle laughed, and bit her lip to stop herself from sticking her tongue out at the grumpy old receptionist.

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Your New(s)Paper

by Teresa Wright
    We are thrilled to present the inaugural issue of The Bluffs Voice, published by Bluffs Community News. Your new monthly community newspaper serves lakefront communities from Main Street to the Rouge. We hope you find it a delight to read.
    The Bluffs Voice will be both a sounding board and a report card, as much a chronicle as a herald. We want you to engage with us, to question us, keep us on our toes, hold us to our commitment, and collaborate with us on building this, the voice of our community.
    To illustrate our intentions, I planned to write an expose on Solutions Journalism. I researched genres of journalism and how they’ve evolved through history, and why this new style is taking hold. It was shaping up to be a pretty boring piece! Make no mistake - I love to talk about the solutions angle, which I believe is the future of news, at least the news that makes a difference.
    Then, I realized that you’d have no interest in dry edification. So, why not just follow my passion and simply write news in this solutions-driven style? I can let it become self-explanatory. I don’t need to spoon feed you the proof, I just need to deliver it! In the meantime, allow me to paint a picture of where we hope to go.
    Imagine that we stopped writing the stories meant only to hook readers. Rather than taking advantage of anyone’s gawk-and-stare reflex, we’d focus on enriching the growth within our communities. 
    Picture a vehicle, a voice. that refuses to carry on ‘business as usual’. What if, instead, that voice bridled the status quo and asked original questions, looked at things from various angles, and discussed possible solutions? Expect us to inform you, without saddling you with stress. Envision reading about tough issues without feeling overwhelmed. We could forge relationships throughout our community and invest in cooperative conversations with friends and neighbours.
    Flourishing small business is an indicator of a strong community. We can elect to fill our ad spaces with local businesses. We know you want and need their products and services, so we could make it easier for you to find and support them.
    The Bluffs Voice is both a vehicle and a venue. It is a mode by which to connect with unique talent, to map out the positive across our communities. It’s also a place to stand up and be counted, to be constituent, to have your voice valued, respected, welcomed and encouraged. I believe you deserve that.