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Stage set for election rematch in Toronto’s battle for Etobicoke-Lakeshore

Click to play video: 'Ward Battles: The race to win Toronto’s Etobicoke-Lakeshore'
Ward Battles: The race to win Toronto’s Etobicoke-Lakeshore
WATCH ABOVE: Toronto’s Ward 3 is well known for its growth but both residents and candidates feel infrastructure hasn’t been keeping up. Matthew Bingley reports. – Sep 27, 2022

Six candidates may be running for Toronto city council in Ward 3, but the race has the potential for political fireworks with a second-round bout playing out between two 2018 contenders, and other challengers looking for a change in the ward’s representation after nearly two decades.

Incumbent councillor Mark Grimes will once again be squaring off against Amber Morley, after a tight race four years ago saw a late push in his favour by incumbent mayor John Tory by way of an endorsement and robocalls promoting the longtime councillor. Grimes pulled off a win with more than 5,500 votes over Morley in 2018, but several factors have the potential to make the race a tight one.

As the ward’s name suggests, Etobicoke-Lakeshore sits on the city’s southwestern border, in an area that has seen both rapid growth and many voters decrying a lack of infrastructure to keep up with demands. Some residents out for morning walks on the trail next to the Humber Bay Park, which is flanked by more than a dozen condo developments, said they were growing frustrated that the ward wasn’t keeping up with population growth.

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Grimes, who was first elected to council in 2003 when the ward was split in two, said he’s the best to address the issues. Citing his experience and the need for a steady hand following the pandemic, the council veteran is hoping voters will grant him another win, cementing more than two decades at city hall.

“We’re one of the fastest-growing areas in the city. I think experience is really going to matter in the next four years,” said Grimes. “We’ve just gone through a tumultuous two-and-a-half years,” he said, “so I just found it incumbent upon myself to go another term to make sure that we’ve got things on track here.”

The incumbent councillor once again has support from John Tory’s campaign. Twitter: @johntory

Part of his pitch to keep the ward on track, he said, was holding developers to account to ensure they’re delivering affordable housing. Grimes, who has once again been endorsed by Tory, is also looking to expand transit in the area.

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“When people move in here, if there’s transit convenient at their door, they might get out of their cars, and that’s what we do,” Grimes said. “The amount of density coming in here is unprecedented and the road network can’t take it, so we have to improve transit.”

But other candidates, like Morley, feel Grimes hasn’t been up to the task to address Etobicoke-Lakeshore’s needs and doesn’t deserve another four years.

Candidate Amber Morley said she’s feeling more confident in her chances this election, with volunteers and donations growing. Matthew Bingley/Global News

“What I’m hearing from residents at the doors is that they want to ensure the infrastructure to support the new development and the future development to come is being negotiated and is being responsibly managed,” said Morley. “Right now, that’s not the feeling that we’re getting.”

She said her experience of working in council and constituency staff roles has given her the competence to work directly with the community. Morley also touted both her lived experience and her advocacy work as a big part of addressing youth violence in the city.

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Setting up a storefront campaign office, Morley said unlike in 2018, this time she feels more prepared for the pressures of the campaign and has had more time to engage voters. Some of her campaign team is made up of voters who were as disappointed by her loss as she was.

“We’re raising tons of money, we’re seeing volunteers coming more and more every day, so we’re definitely feeling the momentum,” she said.

Full-time reservist Marco Valle was compelled to get in the race after seeing that his ward’s needs weren’t being met to match its growth. Matthew Bingley/Global News

Full-time military reserve member Marco Valle is also on the hunt to unseat Grimes and win the riding. Living in the ward with his wife, Valle said they were noticing residential buildings were quick to go up, but the supportive amenities needed for the population haven’t been matching them at the same pace. Like Morley, he said he was compelled to run after feeling his current representation had become complacent in the ward’s needs.

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“The roads aren’t getting wider, the schools aren’t getting built, daycares aren’t getting pushed out, none of the underlying infrastructure that allows us to live fulfilling lives is happening at least at the same pace,” he said.

Valle said the ward has suffered under Grimes’ leadership and residents have suffered to the point many residents feel the area’s challenges are just a part of life.

“And that’s my personal issue … the status quo isn’t working, the status quo isn’t giving us what we need, and the status quo isn’t going to change,” said Valle. “That’s why I felt I needed to get in.”

Ari Zeynel, Bonnie Hu, Mary Markovic and Marco Valle are also running for councillor in Ward 3.

Toronto’s election day is Oct. 24, with eight consecutive days of advance voting beginning Friday, Oct. 7.

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