Local rep rules out joining race for Toronto mayor

[attach]1435[/attach]Denzil Minnan-Wong has decided not to run for mayor and is seeking to keep his old job as the city councillor for Don Valley East Ward 34 instead.

He was seriously considering running for the city’s top political job but in the end, Minnan-Wong decided his heart was in the ward where he grew and has lived here for 30 years.

“It was a personal decision for me to run for council again,” he said. “There’s still a lot to do.

“I have been fairly active to get more infrastructure money into my community. There’s significant (investment of) $2 million for the O’Connor Community Centre,” he said.

The funding was a partnerships between the city, Toronto Community Housing and the province to renovate the community centre’s gym, improve the room for pre-schoolers, add a youth-friendly space and meeting rooms.

Minnan-Wong also helped secure $2.1 million in federal funding for the O’Connor House and an Irish heritage group is looking to lure additional dollars to renovate the property and turn it into an Irish heritage centre.

He’s also focused on city issues including the municipal government’s finances and tackling the backlog in state of good repair for infrastructure.

“I want to focus on having a better managed city,” he said. “We have to make the city more affordable.”

While Mayor David Miller has often said you can’t have a great city for free, Minnan-Wong said Torontonians are paying plenty and not getting enough back in the way of services.

“(Residents) know that city services aren’t free. They pay thousands for services, but they want their money spent wisely and well,” he said. “I’ve been an outspoken critic on council for us to set (spending) priorities. I will continue to speak up.

“If you have 100 priorities on council, then you don’t have one priority,” he said as city hall ends up spreading finances too thinly.

A priority for him is tackling the city’s huge backlog to fix roads, parks and recreation infrastructure.

The city backlog for road repair is $320 million now and in parks, recreation and forestry the backlog’s heading towards $500 million by 2015, he said.

While the federal government gave the city $32 million for infrastructure projects, the local government missed the boat, he said.

The city did move projects forward thanks to the federal dollars but Minnan-Wong said this didn’t put a dent in the growing backlog.

The city could have been more aggressive by adding more of its own cash to the capital budget to tackle the backlog in needed repairs.

“The city didn’t put one more penny into the (existing) five-year capital plan,” said Minnan-Wong.

So far, Peter Youngren is the only other registered candidate running in Ward 34.