By Kathy McGrath
For those who think their votes don’t make a difference, think again. In last month’s municipal election, former CCRA president Jennifer McKelvie won the race for councillor of Ward 25, Scarborough-Rouge Park by a mere 154 votes.
The narrow margin is a reflection of the Herculean effort it took McKelvie to unseat Ward 45 incumbent Neethan Shan.
“It was a ground game,” McKelvie explained following her victory. “Tonight proves you win an election at the door. We spent 12 to 14 hours a day for months talking to voters.”
Ward 25 was created when our former Ward 47 (which had no incumbent) and Ward 45, which ran north of the 401, were combined for the 2018 election. The area, which falls in line with the federal and provincial boundaries, was created after Doug Ford ‘s provincial government cut Toronto council by almost half.
One of McKelvie’s challenges when she takes office December 1 will be to meet the needs of those in a geographically large ward divided by Highway 401.
“While each of our communities are unique, we have so much in common,” McKelvie said. “We all want shorter commute times and jobs closer to home so we don’t have to travel to the downtown core.”
That being said, she addressed the fact that Centennial and West Rouge in the south are different neighbourhoods from Malvern or Morningside Heights in the north.
“South of the 401 has active community associations. The north has a lot of community champions and agencies, but no resident associations. If I can use the south as a model to help foster the creation of neighbourhood associations in the north, that will really help.”
After finishing as runner-up to Ron Moeser in the 2014 municipal campaign, McKelvie, 40, put the pedal to the metal, dedicating herself to community service.
Her strong campaign highlighted her professional credentials as an environmental geoscientist with a doctorate degree and also her experience in infrastructure planning and community engagement.
McKelvie is the founding president of the Scarborough Community Renewal Organization, past president of the Centennial Community Recreation Association, and former board member of the Toronto Region Conservation Authority, the Scarborough Women of Philanthropy, and the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus Council.
One of her top priorities is advocating for an integrated transit network that includes the Scarborough subway extension, light rail transit to UTSC/Malvern and improved bus service. She also vows to relocate municipal jobs to Scarborough and preserve green spaces. Her campaign stressed the importance of working with trustees for safer school zones and supporting seniors in our ward by fostering development of more retirement housing.
McKelvie and her husband have lived in the Centennial neighbourhood since 2005 and have two children.
Our new school trustees are Anu Sriskandarajah for the public board and Garry Tanuan for the Catholic board.