By Lincoln DePradine
Jamaal Myers, a corporate lawyer, is giving up his position as a legal counsel with a major Canadian bank to run for a seat as a local councillor in Toronto because he says, “Toronto’s in trouble’’.
The “trouble’’ confronting the city, according to Myers, includes a lack of affordable housing and a huge budget deficit.
“We face an $815 million budget deficit and there’s no plan to fix it,’’ said Myers, who is campaigning for municipal elections scheduled for October.
Without fixing Toronto’s current budget deficit, “there will be cuts to affordable housing, city services, investments in youth, seniors and newcomers and the TTC’’, Myers charged. “Our current city council seems fine with this as they haven’t done anything to stop it. I’m not.’’
Municipal elections in Ontario – for city councillors and school board trustees – are on October 24.
Myers, a Canadian of Jamaican parents, is trying to replace Cynthia Lai as Ward 23 councillor.
“Our community really needs leadership. I think I just have the skills to bring that level of leadership, empathy and details to the issues that really need resolving,’’ Myers told The Caribbean Camera in an interview in which he announced that he was considering entering the political arena.
Myers, who grew up in Toronto Community Housing and attended the all-boys Neil McNeil Catholic High School, has been an active community volunteer with groups such as TAIBU Community Health Centre, Scarborough Business Association and Scarborough Transit Action.
In his current election campaign that began more than a month ago, Myers says he has spoken to “hundreds of residents from across our community about their hopes, ideas and dreams for building a better city’’.
Affordable housing and public transit issues are among the items Myers intends to give top priority if elected to Toronto City Council.
“We must reverse TTC cuts and strengthen public transit options to make life more affordable as I’ve advocated for years,’’ said Myers, who studied at post-secondary institutions in Canada, as well as at Britain’s London School of Economics and Political Science and at the New York University School of Law.
“Now, more than ever, we must elect City councillors who prioritize affordable homes for Toronto’s families, essential workers, young people, seniors, newcomers and people with disabilities,’’ Myers said.
“As a city councillor, I will work hard to achieve the City’s target to build 40,000 new affordable homes across Toronto by 2030. My opponent won’t,’’ he said, adding that “Ward 23 needs a city councillor that’s committed to delivering affordable housing for residents, not profits for foreign investors.’’
Scarborough and other city neighbourhoods and local businesses “need investments and not neglect,’’ said Myers, and “our youth, seniors and newcomers need our support, not more empty promises’’.
“I’m not going to lie. Toronto’s in trouble,’’ Myers insisted.
However, he also is confident that there are solutions to the challenges besieging Toronto, Canada’s largest city of near 3 million people.
“These are challenges for sure, but by working together, we can meet them head-on. We just need a councillor with the vision, passion and courage to take them on,’’ said Myers.
He’s appealing for public support for his election bid to build a City of Toronto “that works for all of us’’.
By working collaborative and “together, we can deliver results that matter’’, said Myers.