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Running With Experience

Igor Toutchinski brings a wealth of political experience to Toronto’s Ward 10.
By: Elad Benari
Published: August 22nd, 2010 in News » World
Igor ToutchinskiPic: Igor Toutchinski

Igor Toutchinski is no newcomer to the world of politics. With two previous elections under his belt and a long career as a journalist within Toronto’s Russian community, he seems like a natural candidate for councillor in Toronto’s Ward 10, a position for which he will be running in October’s municipal elections.

Originally from Lviv, Ukraine, Toutchinski moved to Canada with his family in 1991. With a degree in journalism from Lviv University, Toutchinski continued to work as a journalist in Toronto, hosting a radio program for the local Russian community on 88.9FM CIRV. He later founded a production company called Mix TV, which produces shows for the A-Channel. As well, he is the owner of Nasha Gazeta, a large local Russian newspaper which is a joint venture with a Moscow newspaper.

Over the years, as he worked with the members of the community, Toutchinski became aware of many issues that Ward 10’s residents face. This fact prompted him to run for the position of city councillor in the 2006 elections, against long time Councillor Mike Feldman.

“There were 8 contenders and I finished second,” said Toutchinski in a conversation with Shalom Life. “For a person who ran for the first time it was a very good result.”

Toutchinski ran for politics again in 2007, this time on the provincial level for MPP of York Centre. He described this as “a very exciting time. In my soul I’m Conservative, and now I’m a member of the Progressive Conservative Part of Ontario and the Conservative Party of Canada.” He once again came in second, with only 5,000 votes between him and Liberal incumbent Monte Kwinter. “It was the first time in history of York Centre that a Conservative candidate was so close to the Liberal candidate,” said Toutchinski.

Now Toutchinski hopes that the third time will be the charm, as he once again is running for city councillor in Ward 10. He identified several issues which he feels are important to the ward’s resident and were central in his decision to run in these upcoming elections.

“First of all, I’m so mad how at our city government spends taxpayers’ money,” said Toutchinski. “Our city is a huge corporation. The mayor is the general manager of this corporation. People who live in Toronto and pay taxes are shareholders. We trust him and give him our money, and our money is spent very very bad. For example, the shelter which the city is trying to build in downtown Toronto is going to cost $12 million. They’re going to have 40 beds for 40 people. It’s $300,000 per person. That’s like building a condominium.”

According to Toutchinski, the roads in the city are an important issue, and first and foremost the paving of the roads. He said that it is “outrageous” that the same roads have to be repaved every year, and added that he believes this happens because the contractors who do the asphalt do not give the city a warranty for the job. “They say it’s the weather,” he said. “Well, last winter was very light and they didn’t use too much salt, but the roads are in very bad condition. Lots of potholes. Especially small streets in Ward 10 – every street needs repaving.”

Toutchinski added that Toronto should take an example from countries with similar climates to Canada such as Norway, Sweden, and Finland, whose roads are “smooth like mirrors” and do not need to be repaved every year.

Another problem he identified on Toronto’s streets is gridlock, which he believes can be solved by synchronizing traffic lights and having “green corridors” which would not cause cars to be stopping as often because of a red light.

Toutchinski also believes the gridlock is caused because of the buses on the roads. “If you drive on Steeles from Keele to Bathurst you have a bus stop at Dufferin and Steeles, right besides the Esso station,” he said. “The bus stops, people get on and off and then the bus starts moving. It passes Dufferin and 50 metres later there’s another stop. We’re talking about the environment. You can imagine how much pollution comes out from the bus if it starts to just move [and stops]. We also have stops that we completely don’t need. If you don’t have a car and you go from Bloor and Bathurst to Steeles and Bathurst you have to spend one hour and 30 minutes [on the bus].”

Toutchinski said that either the number of stops on a route should be reduced, or that more express routes should be implemented. “The Israeli method [of bus stops] is very efficient,” he said. “I understand we have to build subway lines because our infrastructure is very poor but all these small things don’t let us drive properly, fast, and save time. People spend lots of time in the city to reach from south to north or east to west.”

If elected councillor, Toutchinski hopes to work to ensure that the government unions “reduce their appetite” as he put it, which will cause residents to pay less taxes. He brought as an example the Toronto garbage strike. “[The city employees] asked for a salary increase, benefits, and everything,” he said. “I don’t understand: We’re all in the same boat in this beautiful country. We pay taxes. Our economy is in a very bad shape right now. How can one part of the people ask for an increase when others are trying to save money? If our government unions reduce their appetites there will be fewer taxes [coming] from our pocket.”

Toutchinski also identified the seniors of Ward 10 as having special needs. Although the ward has subsidized housing for seniors, Toutchinski feels that often their needs are not taken care of in the proper manner, and that some superintendents do not treat seniors properly. He promises to work to fix all these problems as Ward 10 councillor.

He also believes in putting city resources to good use, such as injecting more life and energy into Earl Bales Park. “This park has the facilities. They have an excellent amphitheatre that can accommodate more than 1,000 people,” he said. “But we don’t use this theatre very often. The city is supposed to invest money to make this park better, more functional and more reachable to people.”

Toutchinski believes that by reducing regulations and cutting red tape, it will be easier for any community to use Earl Bales Park, and thus more life will be injected into it.

Crime in Ward 10 is another very serious problem that Touchinski hopes to deal with. He said that he has heard from residents that youth are selling drugs in some of the major intersections in the ward, a problem which he described as “outrageous and unacceptable, and police know about this but they don’t put lots of efforts into fixing these problems.” Toutchinski added that he will fight for the ward residents’ children and will work along with the police to eliminate this problem.

In regards to the Jewish community in Ward 10, Toutchinski proposes holding a Bathurst Village Festival for the Jewish community, similar to the annual Bloor Village Festival which is held by the Ukrainian community. “We can close Bathurst from Steeles to, for example, Finch, and make one day for our people to celebrate our culture, and our food, and introduce our culture to people who live around,” he said. “We have lots of Filipino people [in Ward 10], people from other countries. I think a Bathurst Village Festival would be a very good idea. And we have huge stores there, like Price Chopper and Shoppers Drug Mart. They can be involved to make this happen.”

The Jewish community is very important to Toutchinski, who describes himself as a lover of Israel, and recently visited there during a world congress of Russian media, where he met politicians such as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. He has worked closely with the Jewish Russian Community Centre. Part of his platform when running for MPP of York Centre was government funding to Jewish day schools, which he still sees as important and feels sorry that he cannot do anything about it as a city councillor. “We need the government subsidy for this because our education in Jewish day schools is much stronger and more effective than in public schools,” he said. “Our public schools have to study how to teach children and take over the methods of teachers in Jewish schools.”

In general, Toutchinski believes that it is important to stick to principles. “You can’t make everybody happy, but if you have a principle and you know it’s right and lots of people support this principle, go ahead and talk about it,” he said. “You can’t promise people what you can’t do. It’s an important role of a politician of my level. If we sit and just talk in our kitchen, nothing will happen.”

For more information on Igor Toutchinski and his campaign for Ward 10 councillor, visit www.voteigor.com

Related articles: Igor Toutchinski, Ward 10, Toronto, elections, city council
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