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article imageMeet the Toronto city council candidates: Mohamed Dhanani Special

By Andrew Moran     Oct 21, 2010 in Politics
Toronto - Toronto city council candidate Mohamed Dhanani is running in Ward 26 Don Valley West on a platform to build the city of Toronto as a "compassionate city" and to make it bold to be the best metropolis in the world.
On Thursday, Digital Journal had the opportunity to speak with Mohamed Dhanani who identified the key issues facing Leaside and the rest of the Greater Toronto Area, outlined his specific platforms and provided an analysis on the good and bad of Mayor David Miller’s tenure.
Who is Mohamed Dhanani?
A Yale university graduate. A National Vice-Chair of the Aga Khan Youth and Sports Board for Canada. Toronto youth leader on the Core Committee of the World Partnership Walk. A former high-level employee at Ontario’s Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure.
Mohamed Dhanani wants to be the city councillor for ward 26 Don Valley West because the ward needs advocacy and activism, city hall needs councillors who are broadminded and focus on the city as a whole and the city of Toronto needs to be a compassionate metropolis.
“I just see the ward and the councillor as an extension of the public service I’ve already been doing; for both people in ward 26 and the city of Toronto. I see being an elected official will allow me to serve in a different capacity as I can actually be involved in the policy that affects the everyday lives of the people of Toronto.”
“What I have been campaigning on since March, I think there are issues that resonate in the ward but also the city. First, the whole issue on transit. The congestion and traffic have significantly increased in the ward and what a result of that is safety issues; the number of car accidents in parts of the ward has escalated.”
Dhanani noted that on Eglinton Avenue East between Bayview Avenue and Laird Drive, there are, on average, 3 accidents per week and 20 percent of those involve physical injuries to the people. In the last couple of days alone, says Dhanani, there have been a few accidents.
The “real mess” stems from drivers who come from the outside area and cut through Leaside to get onto the Mt. Pleasant extension of Bayview to get to the downtown core: “The traffic has really escalated over the last several years.”
How do we fight this? Dhanani, who is facing tough competition from incumbent John Parker and life-long Leaside resident, Jon Burnside, says we have to invest more in public transit, which is absolutely “critical.” However, he noted that the city has not invested in public transit in more than two decades.
“I am a big advocate for the Eglinton LRT and it really worries me that John Parker is supporting is Rob Ford. Rob Ford is looking at killing the Eglinton LRT. John Parker voted with Mike Harris in the mid-90s to kill the Eglinton subway; otherwise we would have a subway on Eglinton right now.”
Dhanani added that he is also an advocate for the Don Mills LRT – this is already part of Mayor Miller’s Transit City plan – because it’s one of the priority lines that needs funding.
One of the other important issues, and has become a part of his platform, is economic development and job creation. Dhanani explained that ward 26 doubles the rest of the city’s unemployment rate and examining underemployment “makes the situation even worse.”
Over the past 15 years, states Dhanani, employment has continued to decline in the city of Toronto and the municipal government is “eroding” commercial taxation and putting more money onto property taxes: “You can't fund a 21st century metropolis on property taxes alone.”
Ward 26 Don Valley West city council candidate  Mohamed Dhanani.
Ward 26 Don Valley West city council candidate, Mohamed Dhanani.
Mohamed Dhanani campaign
In the end, he would support legislation that would help transit development and community development, attract and retain jobs in the Toronto and policies that would control the city’s finances.
City Hall
This municipal election has been all about change and “shaking things up.” Most of the challenging candidates say they can bring change to city hall, so what kind of change can Dhanani bring?
“Ward 26 is particular in my work in the city. The people in the ward needs someone who is going to advocate for the community and be an activist for the community. I’ve been asked to run provincially and federally by several parties because I don’t belong to any particular party. But I’ve declined because I don’t have to worry about sitting in opposition. At city hall, I have one vote, the mayor has one vote, and that yields a lot of power to get things done in the ward.”
Dhanani pointed out what so many municipal candidates and Torontonians are saying and that is the city’s budget is out of control. He says that the budget is growing double the rate of inflation and that is completely “unsustainable.”
The city of Toronto needs councillors who understand city finances, who focus not just on their wards but on the rest of the city and who can look at the alternative strategies to taxation and public transit funding, which, Dhanani says, has been lacking in discussion during the mayoral race.
“Congestion taxes. Vancouver did an extra gas tax, because we are going to have to figure out a way of expanding transit at a faster pace than what is being envisioned right now. If we look at the 407, everyone complains about toll roads, but last year, the revenue on the 407 were over $500 million. When people have the option to get places quicker, they’re willing to pay for it.”
He added that the city needs councillors who can think about bigger issues and understand policy and the “implications that policies can have on a wider basis.”
Mayor David Miller, the current race for mayor
Dhanani approves of the mayor putting the environment “front and centre” during his tenure. He believes the green economy was at the top of his priority list but fell through on it: “The green economy needs to be better executed.”
Another good initiative put forth by the mayor, says Dhanani, is his 13 priority neighbourhoods plan, which has also been endorsed by his opponent, Jon Burnside.
Dhanani said that he hasn’t endorsed any mayor since the election campaign begain, nor has he been endorsed by anybody, but he feels that George Smitherman, who is in a statistical tie with Rob Ford, would be a better mayor than Ford.
Nevertheless, despite who becomes mayor, Dhanani will work with anyone who becomes mayor because he finds it preposterous and unproductive that some councillors, right now, refuse to work with Miller, and some have already publicly said they won’t work with Ford if he becomes mayor.
“I will work with whoever becomes mayor of Toronto,” vigorously stated Dhanani. “I will work with Rob Ford, I will work with whoever is elected mayor.”
Toronto voters head to the polls on Monday. To find the closest polling station near you, click here.
More about Mohamed dhanani, Toronto election, Council, Don valley west
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