Friday, February 5, 2010

Why is it so hard to get a City Councillor on the phone?

Next Tuesday there is a North York Community Council meeting being held, where Havergal College will be making a deputation against the proposed billboard variance by Abcom Media. If you're wondering how I'm even involved with this, I used to be a Havergal girl once upon a time and now find myself back in the halls as an Institute Program Coordinator. This issue first came up a year ago, where a letter of protest from our Principal Dr. Susan R. Groesbeck with a petition of now over 800 signatures was sent out to Mayor David Miller and Councillor Karen Stintz for our ward, including others. With no response, it seems as if our beloved politicians are trying to slip something past the public yet again, but is that really a surprise?

The new billboard or just a replacement sign as it is being referred to, will be a brand new carbon consuming, bright eyesore to the quiet neighborhood of Avenue and Lawrence. Very noticeable from Havergal grounds, but also across the street from a set of condominiums. As quiet as this matter has been kept, there are probably a number of people that will have a shining sign beaming down on their homes 24/7 that don't even know it. Although Councillor Stintz does reassure us that it will not be a flashing video sign, they tried to pull that one in California a year ago too, I'm not buying it. It's only a matter of time before a new bylaw comes into action and just an improved sign becomes a gimmicky, consumer driven distraction. Not to mention the environmental concerns that this poses on our community. The carbon consumption alone is enough to power 13 homes. So long story short, the detriment to our community is far greater than the benefits (what are those again?).

Before we head into the meeting next week, I spent all afternoon calling each City Councillor that would be in attendance. I can't help but laugh when I recall the curt rejections from their secretaries or the empty promises of a call back. The one and only Councillor that was willing to take my call was none other than Karen Stintz, the very person Havergal has not heard back from since they first contacted her last May. Once I made it clear that I was calling on behalf of the Institute, she didn't seem pleased I had kept that little fact from her secretary. I felt as though once I finally had her attention, I was being rushed off the phone. She didn't understand where Havergal was coming from (maybe that's why she never responded), but she definitely does now. Did I mention that City Staff recommended against this proposal and somehow it's still getting pushed through?

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