Bussin in the hot seat

[attach]1778[/attach]Beaches-East York Councillor Sandra Bussin has come under fire lately over a series of hot button issues in her Ward 32.

There’s the firestorm over 204 Beech Avenue, where the owners bought the property with the intention to tear it down and build an accessible home only to find out it is a candidate for heritage protection. Bussin got caught up in heated meeting on that issue. A clip depicting her as unsympathetic to the owners subsequently ended up on video streaming site YouTube, and made the rounds via Twitter.

And there’s the controversial 20-year, sole source contract that awards a lease extension to Tuggs owner George Foulidis for his Boardwalk Pub at Ashbridge’s Bay. Some feel Foulidis got too sweet a deal.

Though she removed herself from any city staff discussions surrounding the Boardwalk Pub in recent years, Bussin was a vocal supporter of the sole-source contract for Foulidis back in 2006.

And this is an election year.

“I am a strong person. I represent this community with integrity,” she told the Town Crier June 9.

But several Ward 32 council candidates and local activists are nipping at her heels.

Bruce Baker, a candidate running against Bussin, has been critical of her on both these issues.

[attach]1777[/attach]“I get the impression (Baker) is out there canvassing in a derogatory way,” she said. “If he wants to conduct himself in that way, I think it won’t be effective.”

According to Bussin, Baker showed up to a meeting on matters about other ward issues and, along with others from Scarborough, Mississauga and downtown Toronto, “hijacked” the local meeting to talk about the 204 Beech issue. She says she shut down the meeting after 90 minutes of answering questions.

While she’s faced media criticism of how she responded to residents’ questions — the video is a clip from this meeting —, Bussin said others have come to her defense.

“One person ran out of the meeting and apologized for even participating,” she said.

At city hall days after the meeting, Baker said constituents should be critical of Bussin’s ward decisions.

“Sandra Bussin is going to have to stand on her record,” he said. “And over the last year she has displayed her record as not very good.”

Beach activist and former Bussin opponent Chris Yaccato has been a vocal critic on these issues and of Bussin’s involvement in them.

Yaccato expressed disappointment after city council decided not to re-open the Tuggs issue.

“The public was quite upset (about Tuggs),” said Yaccato. “A lot of people commented to me we were on the right track trying to get this re-opened and getting a fair bid down there.”

Bussin did not reply to calls regarding the Tuggs deal and potential political fallout.

Yaccato said the Tuggs issue has divided Ward 32 constituents.

“(Bussin) split the public quite rapidly and I am sure there is a lot of animosity. I don’t know what will happen (with her re-election),” he said.

Bussin has a different take.

“My support is not affected by the antics of these individuals,” she said referring to Yaccato and Baker.