May 28, 2014
By Leah Wong
A number of new councillor candidates in Markham want to see an improved consultation process and increased transparency when it comes to new developments.
Concerns about the way council dealt with the proposed GTA Centre arena have led to several candidates questioning council’s negotiation process for developments.
“Integrity and transparency is always a big issue,” said Ward 6 candidate Cliff Redford. “It’s a little more at the forefront this election because of the arena concerns in the past, as well as the casino concerns in the past.”
Other candidates in the Ward 6 race also see the casino as being a major issue. Candidate Amanda Yeung Collucci questions how council has dealt with the casino. She said people are asking why, if Markham has voted down the casino twice, a survey has been sent out to residents. Regional councillor Jim Jones sent out a public survey on the casino in April.
Ward 8 candidate Joseph Remisiar said voters also want their councillors to be more accessible. “We need more public consultation to ensure proper infrastructure is in place to meet the [city’s] growing needs and demands,” he said.
Dealing with traffic congestion is another issue that has come up in this election. “It has become very difficult to get around Markham these days,” said Ward 5 candidate John Egsgard.
Ward 6 candidate Zach Armstrong said that he sees transportation as a more regional issue, but council plays an important role in implementation. He also thinks that transit alone will not solve congestion in the area. “We need a complete policy of road and transit solutions,” he said.
A change in ward boundaries has created opportunities for change on Markham council. The city underwent a boundary review in 2012 to address significant population differences among wards. As a result the boundaries of some of the eight wards have been changed so that each councillor will represent a more equitable number of constituents.
Though the only incumbent that has yet to register is Ward 3 councillor Don Howard, the shifting boundaries has led to incumbents running in different wards. With the former wards 1 and 2 now combined, Ward 2 councillor Howard Shore and Ward 1 councillor Valerie Burke are running against each other. As Ward 6 incumbent Alan Ho is now running in the newly-formed Ward 2, Ward 6 has become an open race.
There are currently no candidates for the mayoral race in Markham, amid speculation that Mayor Frank Scarpitti may be considering a run for York Region chair.