By Kathryn Stocks
As of December 1, Jennifer McKelvie will be this ward’s new councillor. In a recent interview, she said she is feeling “gratitude for all the support I received from the community” and “excitement about what the next four years will hold.”
She will be ceremonially sworn in with all the other councillors at City Hall on Dec. 4. One of the first things on the agenda at the initial council meeting is how committees will be restructured with the reduced number of councillors at city hall. With only 25 councillors now, some committees will have to be combined. They’ll also talk about the public appointment process and ways to improve citizen engagement with more residents on their boards.
Jennifer has been sitting on the Toronto Region Conservation Authority as a citizen member and hopes to be able to stay on as a councillor. Right now there are five citizen members and eight councillors on the TRCA, so they might switch that to have more citizens and fewer councillors. “There’s a lot of possibility to increase public engagement and have a greater diversity of people sitting on those boards,” she said.
Jennifer will automatically be on Scarborough Council because she is a councillor in Scarborough, but she won’t submit her choices for committees until after the restructuring has been decided.
Also to be discussed early in December is staffing. More than 50 resident associations are calling on Toronto City Council to at least double the number of staff in councillors’ offices to help with the increased workload larger wards will bring.
Jennifer’s constituency office will be located at Scarborough Civic Centre. “Last I heard, five out of six councillors will have their offices there,” she said. This brings jobs to the civic centre and it will enable her and her staff to interact with other councillors and their staff on Scarborough issues. In the first month, there will be a lot of training at city hall so the office won’t be up and running regularly until the new year.
Jennifer grew up on the edge of Scarborough at Victoria Park and Lawrence. Her mother was 17 and her father was 20 when she was born. “We were very fortunate because there was affordable rental housing at that time.” This allowed her mother to go to college to become a nurse when Jennifer was in elementary school. “Their success story is very hard to replicate today,” she said. That’s why she’s excited that Mayor John Tory intends to focus on affordable housing as well as transit this term.
She went to UTSC for her bachelor’s degree in environmental science and downtown to U of T’s St. George campus for her masters and PhD.
Having her work based in the community for the next four years is a real plus for Jennifer. She and her husband, Warren, moved to their current house in Centennial about 11 years ago and they have two children, Colin, 14, who is in Grade 9 at Mowat, and Caitlin, 11, who is in Grade 6 at Charlottetown. After travelling a lot for work in the last few years, she’s glad to be able to go home every night and her family is looking forward to having her around.