As a candidate for Mayor of our beloved city, I am writing this letter to share my commitment to help end homelessness - a complex and heart-wrenching issue that has plagued our community for far too long.
My vision for Toronto is a city where every individual has a safe and secure place to call home, where opportunities are equally accessible, and where people are empowered to reach their full potential as human beings.
I have personally experienced the transformative power of this vision. I've had the privilege to help two individuals transition from the streets to stable housing. Not only did this housing provide them with the dignity and security they deserved, but it also allowed them to contribute their skills and talents to our community in helping reduce the negative impacts of combined sewer overflows into our local waterways and homes.
They became vital members of our Flood Resilience Team, using their lived experiences and unique perspectives to help us better understand and address the challenges our city faces. Their contributions have been invaluable, demonstrating that when we invest in people, we create a stronger, more resilient Toronto.
Homelessness is not only an issue of lack of housing but also lack of leadership. Our city already has the resources needed to help end homelessness at a fraction of the cost of building new housing or expanding existing homeless shelters. The ongoing cycle of purchasing new and decommissioning old transit vehicles is essential to maintaining the TTC's efficiency and safety but can also be used as a tool to help fight homelessness.
When we look at the current practice of decommissioning TTC vehicles has historically resulted in these vehicles being scrapped for metal, an act that not only disrespects the legacy of these sturdy vehicles but also contradicts our city's goals of sustainability and resource conservation.
As a passionate advocate for upcycling and sustainability, I firmly believe that we can do better. I propose an innovative strategy that honours the heritage of these vehicles while serving a pressing societal need: repurposing decommissioned TTC vehicles into sustainable housing solutions.
The "van life" movement has captured global attention by transforming compact spaces into comfortable homes. In much the same way, we can leverage the inherent durability and character of decommissioned TTC vehicles to create secure, unique homes for individuals experiencing homelessness. With this approach, we could create twice as many housing spaces as required to accommodate our current homeless population.
More so, these transformed spaces will not just serve as shelters. They can also become positive community spaces, embodying the spirit of our city and fostering a sense of belonging, where cultural and social activities can bring together people from all walks of life.
This initiative aligns with our shared values as Torontonians – respect for our history, commitment to sustainability, and a deep-seated belief in the power of community. It is a testament to what we can achieve when we combine creativity with purpose, and sustainability with heritage.