New mayors win on green hopes

If there’s a unifying theme among the dozen new faces inhabiting mayors’ offices across Greater Toronto today – especially among the seven rookies who ousted incumbents to win top jobs – it’s voters’ faith that they have the muscle to rein in growth, wrote the Toronto Star Nov. 15. Robert MacDermid, a political scientist in York’s Faculty of Arts, said the breed of new mayors voted into office is an indication of voters’ desires to loosen developers’ stranglehold on the GTA.

“If you look at some of the candidates that replaced the winners, they tended to make promises: ‘Let’s go slow in development, let’s be more careful with the relationships we have with developers’,” he said. “There is a green bend which says we need to control development. We need to control the influence of developers’ interest in municipal politics. We need to open it up to more voices about how we see development going forward.”

MacDermid is likely owed some of the credit for that greenish bend. In a study he released last spring, he found the bulk of 905-area campaigns in the 2003 election were funded by corporate contributions, including developers. “People began to think maybe we should be thinking about voting in candidates who are not supported by only one industry,” MacDermid said.

New council could use some good luck

I bumped into a man named Goodluck outside the Jane Finch Mall the other day. I like the mall because my initials – JF – grace the handles of the doors, wrote columnist Joe Fiorito in the Toronto Star Nov. 15. And I liked Goodluck the minute I met him. How could you not? Greeting him is an exercise in perpetual optimism. Hello, Goodluck. How are you, Goodluck? Goodluck, long time, no see. He and I got to talking city politics, a subject much in the news around here these days. Goodluck said he had some suggestions for our new council. “If the only thing they do is complete the subway to York University…” He let that sentence tail off. It is not for him to complete. But he is right. He is a public transit man.

Mortgage maze not for faint of heart

Bank of Canada governor David Dodge blasted the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, saying that interest-only and 35-year loans would drive up home prices and make them less affordable for Canadians, contradicting the expressed mandate of the crown corporation, reported The Edmonton Journal Nov. 15. And while home ownership is usually championed because it builds up equity in a normally appreciating asset, many of these innovations allow little if any equity to accrue, causing critics to argue that those people would be better off renting.

“It worries me,” said Moshe Milevsky, finance professor at York’s Schulich School of Business, well-known for his research on fixed versus floating mortgage rates. “This is not being used by people who are well off and wealthy, it’s being used by people who couldn’t afford a house otherwise,” he said. “If you couldn’t afford five per cent down or have a conventional mortgage because your gross debt service ratio was greater than 30 per cent, reducing your payments means you’re going to pay for your house three times. It’s instant gratification.”

Former student wins mid-career arts award

Kudos to “interdisciplinary artist” Robin Brass, one of seven Canadian artists receiving Victor Martyn Lynch-Staunton Awards from the Canada Council for the Arts, reported The Leader-Post (Regina) Nov. 15. These awards are for $15,000 each and are given to mid-career artists judged by peers to be doing outstanding work. Robin studied at York University and at the First Nations University of Canada; she was a co-founder of Sakewewak Artists’ Collective.

A true Shakespearean love story

Many people argue that William Shakespeare is the greatest playwright who ever lived, wrote the Nanaimo News Bulletin Nov. 14. “That doesn’t mean he was the easiest person to be married to,” said actress and former York student Nicole Busby, who plays Shakespeare’s wife, Anne Hathaway, in the latest production from Western Edge Theatre, Shakespeare’s Will. The one woman play, written by Vern Thiessen, explores the life of Hathaway while Shakespeare heads to London seeking fame and fortune.

It’s a big weight to carry as the only actor onstage during the hour and a half long play. Busby must keep the plot moving, while allowing for times of sadness and happiness. “It’s a big chunk to bite off,” said Busby. “I get to play about 10 different characters – there’s a lot of variety there.” Busby will be relying on her training at York University and Malaspina University-College, plus her experience in many plays in the community.