October 2018 / Scarborough, Ontario, Canada
De Baeremaeker Calls it a Day
by Bret Snider
I was asked by the Bluffs Monitor to report on Glen De Baeremaeker’s decision not to run in the next election. Full disclosure, I have never been in complete alignment with his politics but I’ve always felt that he cared very deeply about the Scarborough community and the City. He is one of those people whose voice must be heard.
Glen worked in politics for thirty years and served on Council for fifteen years. When the new proposal for forty seven seats was going through, he realized that his seat would disappear. Even under the twenty five seat proposal he would be in a difficult position so he decided it was time to hang up his political spurs. In spite of our differences I feel it is a loss for the City.
In a very fulsome conversation, I asked him what he felt he was most proud of. He has a wealth of experiences in Scarborough so it was difficult for him. However, during the interview we were able to distill it to three major accomplishments which we both agreed moved the needle for Scarborough residents.
First was his participation, support and commitment to the Rouge Valley National Park. He indicated that in the early days of planning it he had drawn the boundaries of what is now the largest urban park in the country. But he credited Pauline Browes, a former Mulroney cabinet minister for doing much of the heavy lifting.
Second was the Scarborough Waterfront Trail. It is intended to protect the shore line and give access to a beautiful part of our city for Torontonians. When I asked him who he credited with that one, he credited; Former Councillor Ron Mosser, Councillors Paul Ainsle and Gary Grawford and Mayor John Tory. Who he said made the financing possible.
The third achievement he was proud of was his contribution to local parks and community centres. His commentary was that many people in Scarborough are middle class or new Canadians and they can’t afford amenities that let them enjoy the life that other Canadians have in wealthier communities. So he made it a point to make sure they had access to splash pads , meeting places and play grounds. And, this made the communities more attractive and attracted other benefits, even as simple as ice cream trucks driving by.
The final part of our conversation involved the inevitable – transit. He is a Jane Jacobs adherent. He believes that density is better and subways are better for Scarborough because it attracts local business that provides services, but to a point. His argument is that at subway stops such as Rosedale only receives 6,000 riders a day while it is estimated that a fourth stop in Scarborough will receive 60,000 riders per day. However, in spite of pressures for increased neighborhood density, he feels that if single family homes are at risk in a community then he is opposed.
All in all, I think that Toronto will be diminished without the voice of Glen De Baeremaeker.