Shalom Life | April 18, 2014

A Good Oomen for Ward 10

Ward 10 candidate Nancy Oomen brings with her a wealth of experience.

By: Elad Benari

Published: October 13th, 2010 in News » World

A Good Oomen for Ward 10

As the municipal elections on October 25 inch closer, Nancy Oomen is hoping that her vast experience will lead her to become the new councillor of Toronto’s Ward 10.

Oomen, who was born in the Netherlands and moved to Canada after her first year of high school, has been the personal assistant of retiring Ward 10 Councillor Mike Feldman for the last 10 years. She had previously worked with Ward 23 Councillor John Filion.

Although she is not Jewish, Oomen has worked quite closely with the large Jewish community in Ward 10. In fact, she told Shalom Life, she sometimes feels Jewish “because I’ve been immersed into the community and had a lot of involvement with the community, and have many friends from the community as well.”

Her campaign office is located near Darchei Noam Synagogue on Sheppard Avenue. When she worked with Councillor Feldman, Oomen assisted the synagogue in moving their Torah scroll from their previous location to the current location on Sheppard. She has been active with the Walk with Israel, and has worked with B’nai Brith in acquiring building permits for an Alzheimer’s facility at Bathurst and Finch and an affordable housing complex at Bathurst and Patricia. These are only several examples of her great dedication and involvement with and for the Jewish people.

After Councillor Feldman decided to retire and not run for re-election, Oomen decided to run for the position. Her candidacy has already been endorsed by Feldman as well as former Toronto Mayor Mel Lastman. She identified several issues which she sees as critical for Ward 10, including improving the traffic signals, something which she believes would assist the Ward’s large senior population. She would also be happy to see longer green lights for pedestrians.

One important issue that Oomen identified is the lack of community space in the Ward. She brought up the JCC on Bathurst (which is currently undergoing major renovations for which she was involved with the permit application) as an excellent example of a good community centre that offers a variety of programs for a wide audience, including non-Jews. She would like to see more community space being put to good use like the JCC, particularly in the north end of Ward 10. “The ward really has a lot to offer but we need more community space,” she said.

Oomen also said she would also like to see Earl Bales Park improved. She has worked on the new accessible water play and sensory garden in the park, which was donated by Toronto resident Goldie Feldman. She also been involved in renovating the Zukerman Amphitheatre in the park, and if elected, she would like to continue this work as well as initiate more clean and beautiful projects in the ward.

One of the major issues for Oomen is public transportation. “Transit needs to be improved, there’s no question,” she said. “If we want to get people out of their cars we have to improve it. I’m not sure that ripping up the roads is the way to go, but I’d like to start with the current subway system, because every time I get on it, I end up stuck in the tunnel. It’s constantly breaking and they can’t add any trains because it’s an antiquated signal system.”

Oomen believes that subways “make a lot more sense” as she put it, and would like to see the current subway system expanded both west and east. “The Sheppard line goes nowhere really. It stops at Fairview, it stops at Yonge. It would make sense to connect it through. It would actually be great if [subways] could go to the airport. It would make sense.”

She also thinks that street traffic should be improved, and one idea she has for this is to construct right turn lanes at congested intersections, such as Bathurst and Wilson which is often congested with cars who wish to turn right onto Bathurst from Wilson. “As soon as we have an opportunity to take that land, one of the first things I’d like to do there is to see a right turn lane because I think it’ll help move traffic along faster.”

Oomen emphasized that her vision of Ward 10 is of a ward that is friendly to both its residents and its businesses, and as such she hopes to work with the local business owners to improve traffic. “We can’t afford to lose business. We need to keep business, but better traffic will bring more business,” she said, and added: “I think it would be really nice to start a BIA (Business Improvement Area). If we could get some of the businessmen together maybe we can improve some of the streetscapes, especially the strip plazas.”

If elected councilor, Oomen would communicate with her constituents on a regular basis, be it through e-mail, community meetings, or an annual town hall meeting. “It’s important to have a direct line, especially at the municipal level, because it’s the closest point of contact,” she said.

Oomen has been touted by some as having an unfair advantage in the race, since she has worked as Councillor Feldman’s personal assistant and might have had access to information that is not available to others. However, she politely and gracefully dismissed this idea.

“I don’t know if knowledge and experience is an unfair advantage,” she said. “I think it’s no different than if you’re in the private sector and applying for a job. It’s experience. I can’t fault myself for having experience and knowing the issues in the ward.

“The big advantage of having someone like myself is not just the fact that I know the issues, but I’ve had the privilege of working with staff too and have a really good rapport with staff which is built over many many years,” Oomen added. “I’m able to get things done and I have a pretty good track record for getting things done. I think it’s a positive thing.”

For more information on Nancy Oomen’s campaign, visit nancyoomen.ca.

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