Sunday, February 21, 2010

Lots of Local Issues Coming Up

I've spent several days just walking around the ward, talking to my neighbours, snapping cellphone pictures and generally just getting an up to date feel for what's happening in my local area. Nothing beats just walking around to find out what is really going on.

I've also been following the news about the city budget, the mayoral race and the ever present big city TTC issues.

What strikes me most is how our mainstream news producers like to beat stories to death and seem to set the agenda for what should be most talked about in the city. While this sometimes helps and is noble in intent to involve citizens, it more often than not deflects attention away from neighbourhood issues and perhaps even turns people off participating in the political process. (Witness the Adam Giambrone never-ending soap opera - is anyone tired of it yet?)

Here just a few of the really local things ward 18 voters need to be aware of:

  • CATS, CATS, CATS - Have you noticed how many stray and abandoned cats we have in our back alleys, back yards and industrial areas? There is an excellent documentary film called CAT CITY by Justine Pimlott that really tells the story well. (You can see a short trailer here: or check out the Facebook page about it ). There are TENS OF THOUSANDS of cats roaming our city, due primarily to irresponsible owners who do not spay or neuter pets then abandon or lose them. It is a crisis our city council is ignoring. We must have a city response: bylaw to require spay-neuter of all pets, the only exception being certified bona fide breeders. We need more low cost spay neuter clinics, in downtrown Toronto.

Stay tuned for more blog posts. I intend to develop a real platform of issues that voters can debate and decide upon. Issues, not spin is my promise and intent. Let's take local democracy to heart and decide our own future, together. No more self-centered or complacent leaders who tell us what to do.


Friday, February 12, 2010

Number One Issue: Citizen Empowerment

After many days of thinking hard about how to communicate my biggest reason for registering on February 1, 2010 to run as a candidate for City Councillor in ward 18 (Davenport), I concluded it is these two words: CITIZEN EMPOWERMENT

As someone who initially supported what appeared to be hopeful change in a too long ignored neighbourhood in the 2003 municipal election, I bet on a young Adam Giambrone. What followed was a disappointing period of inattention to ward issues, lack of consultation with or respect for constituents and a general 'If it's not about the TTC, I'm not interested' attitude from Mr. Giambrone. The ward seemed to go from being ignored by complacent city councillors to being ignored by a councillor who had a narrow focus and overarching personal ambition.

In the 2006 election, when I asked Adam why I should vote for him, he replied, "Because Mayor Miller will make me Chair of the TTC". What does that do for his constituents? (Need I say I did NOT vote for him in that election?) Mr. Giambrone's recent disasterous mayoral campaign has only reinforced my belief that he is not the person able to effect the kind of positive change I want to see in my neighbourhood.

I do not know the other candidates who have come forward to challenge for city councillor nor do I know who else will join the race. I am not a member of any particular political party or lobby group. I have no obligations to any power brokers or lobby groups (I am a free agent). I am just an ordinary citizen who wonders what it will take for other ordinary citizens in my ward to have meaningful input and impact on decisions made in their name.

CITIZEN EMPOWERMENT is what the main issue is for me.

How can we ordinary citizens become more aware of changes that affect us? How do we reach all our constituents in a ward that is effectively fractured into many different languages and have different ways of communicating (some of us have technological access, many do not). How can we participate better? How can we make government more responsive and effective? How can we each make a positive contribution?

No longer should we just put up with mediocre or self-centered representatives.

Davenport Deserves Better!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

What's This About?

This is my first Blog and it is about me, my neighbourhood and why on February 1, 2010 I forked over $100 to run for City Councillor for Ward 18 (Davenport) in the west end of Toronto, Ontario, Canada which has a portion of the "ethnic enclave" known as Little Portugal.

Me? Ken Wood. A sixty year old man who has lived in the area for over 10 years and a resident of Toronto since 1973. A person with a disability (although it is a rather 'invisible' one). I am a recipient of ODSP (Ontario Disability Support Program), one form of social assistance. I live on low-income (about $12,500/yr) and although I do not have to work, I want to. More about me later.

My disability? I have been repeatedly diagnosed as having major clinical depression, along with generalized anxiety disorder and a sleep disorder. Lots of jargon words and labels that are only truly understood by those that either share my affliction or are professionals in the mental health field. I hope I only have to say this once: I am not crazy, a loonie, or a threat to others. I have a chemical imbalance that causes my disability which is manageable with medication. Depression is something many people suffer from (at least 1 in 7 people). For more information on this see In Canada, according to the Center for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) , 1 in 5 of us will experience a mental illness in their lifetime.

More about Ken Wood:

  • Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and psychology

  • Work career includes about 30 years in computers (operations, hardware, management) plus 5 years in human resources (personnel). Worked in both union and non union workplaces, from small to large.

  • Many additional educational courses in social work, counselling, etc

  • Activist and advocate for issues such as affordable housing, food banks, environment, animal welfare, democracy

  • Former board member (Director) The Daily Bread Food Bank

  • Former board member (Director) Mainstay Housing