Zimmer focuses locally

[attach]5142[/attach]Whether he’s the next legislative speaker or not, David Zimmer says he’s got a lot of business to get down to in his home riding of Willowdale.

Two weeks after winning his third term as Liberal MPP of the North York riding, Zimmer announced he was seeking the speaker’s chair.

But also on his mind are persistent concerns of gridlock, congestion and intensification in his home riding.

“I have a sense that constituents up here in Willowdale want those issues tackled, they want some relief from the congestion and the transportation gridlock,” he said. “It’s particularly bad here in Willowdale.”

Last term, the Liberals were in support of former mayor David Miller’s Transit City plan to build seven aboveground light rail lines.

However, after last year’s municipal election, Mayor Rob Ford all but quashed the plan in favour of building more underground rapid transit.

But the Liberals worked hard to reach a funding agreement for the Transit City plan, and he wants to see it back on the table.

“We’ve got to somehow get our relationship with the city back on track and get over this idea that the war on the car is dead because the car and all the people, they are the two components of the gridlock up here.”

The Liberals were prepared to work with the city in fine-tuning the Transit City plan, he added.

Zimmer said another commitment is seeing to it that the city sorts out its Official Plan, which sets out guidelines for building and land-use planning in Toronto.

“It’s a bit of a patchwork, parts of it cover Willowdale and parts of it don’t, so it’s very easy to manipulate the system,” Zimmer says.

He says though his government has introduced legislation to put the Ontario Municipal Board on a narrower leash, he adds the quasi-judicial board has already changed for the better.

“Gradually the make-up of the decision makers at the OMB is changing, and when you follow some of their decisions closely, really around the whole GTA you see in fact the decisions are becoming more and more responsive.”

The former lawyer said he chose to run for the speaker position because of his experience prior to entering politics. He’s worked as a prosecutor, defence lawyer and in civil litigation.

“I think I’ve got a contribution to make to the orderly running of the legislature,” he said.