In my neighbourhood portrait about the Beach I definitely wanted to include Sandra Bussin, City Councillor for Beaches / East York, who has represented the Beach for the last 18 years. After my January 25 interview with Carole Stimmell and Sheila Blinoff from the Beach Metro Community News and a wonderful tasty lunch at Konditor I headed downtown towards Toronto City Hall, where I had an opportunity to meet Sandra Bussin, City Councillor and Deputy Mayor of the City of Toronto.
I don’t usually get a chance to interact 먹튀검증. with senior city officials and I asked Sandra what the proper way of addressing her would be. She simply said “just call me Sandra”, and the ice was broken. We sat down and Sandra was ready to tell me her life story.
Sandra Bussin grew up just north of the Beaches, near Woodbine and Danforth, in the Dawes Road area. At that time the area was mostly Scottish, Irish and English. She attended a tiny primary school: Coleman Avenue Public School, a 6 room school house which functioned as a hospital during WWII. As a child she played in a series of parks: little and big Dentonia Park, where she also learned to play tennis. Some of her friends even went on to become provincial tennis champions. Recently she had a chance to meet some of those friends again at the 30 year anniversary of the Dentonia Park Tennis Club. When Sandra grew up there was no Crescent Town yet, the area of residential highrises just northwest of the Danforth / Victoria Park intersection. The entire area here was part of the Massey Estate, and Victoria Park Avenue did not even continue all the way through and dead ended at Dentonia Park. Sandra recalls construction work on the subway in the 1960s.
Her father and mother were both born in Toronto, while her grandparents came from Scotland. Her maternal grandfather had 13 children and owned his own business near Gerrard and Broadview. Two of her uncles were jockeys and had a race horse in their back yard. Sandra fondly recalls her mom’s stories, talking about her grandfather riding his horse along Gerrard Street.
As a child she displayed artistic talents and enjoyed drawing. Her father would take her to the ROM (the Royal Ontario Museum) on Saturday mornings where she studied civilization and drawing. By grade 4 Sandra would take the street car and go to the ROM all by herself. This exposure shaped her interest in the world and allowed her to interact with other people in a structured educational environment.
During the summer Sandra attended art programs at Central Tech High school and participating in these activities helped her develop a sense of independence. Sandra was supposed to attend Monarch Park Collegiate once that newly built school opened. For some reason she had always wanted to go to Malvern Collegiate which had traditionally been the feeder school for this area. But Monarch Park Collegiate Institute had just been built, and Sandra was supposed to be sent there. Instead she decided that Eastern Commerce would be a good option. In later years, when Sandra herself became a school trustee, she tried to facilitate her constituents’ school choices when they presented a good reason for wanting to attend a particular school.
After high school Sandra went to York University where she studied fine arts. To get there she had to take the subway and a bus. During university she got involved in film and TV production. In her third year of university she took a summer job with then City Councillor Ann Johnston and got introduced to the dynamics at City Hall. Sandra got to run Ann’s constituency office as a volunteer. Leveraging this experience allowed her to get a job at Queens Park, Ontario’s provincial parliament, a year later. She had an interview with Morton Shulman, the former provincial coroner who had then become a Provincial Member of Parliament representing the Toronto area of High Park / Swansea.
At that time the CBC was running a TV series called “Wojeck” that was based on Morton Shulman’s character and John Vernon, a tall good-looking actor, was playing the lead role. When Sandra first met the real Morton Shulman she said “you don’t look like John Vernon”. (Morton Shulman was a short slight man). Morton broke out laughing, and Sandra had the job.
Right away Sandra felt at home at Queen’s Park. Originally she did not plan to stay in Morton’s office, she had planned to go back to university and take another degree. But she was impressed by Morton Shulman, “a fighter for the little guy” as she calls him. Dozens of people would line up to see him on a daily basis, and Sandra was there to assist them with their needs and inquiries.
Before the Ontario government had an ombudsman, Morton Shulman would represent people that were wronged. Sandra’s role was to be “Shulman’s sleuth”, to research people’s inquiries and prepare him for the legislature. People with concerns and worries would come in from far and wide, and Morton would help them. Later Sandra worked on a Tv show called “The Shulman File”, a show where Morton would take up cases of people who had been unfairly treated and help them. She did a lot of research and investigative work and really enjoyed this opportunity.
When Morton Shulman retired he asked her to come work with him at his Tv show at City TV, but Sandra chose to stay at Queen’s Park, and worked on various politician’s campaigns until she decided to run herself. Somewhere in between Sandra got married and had a daughter. As her daughter got older she became interested in the school system and ran for school trustee. That was the start of her political career, and Sandra Bussin spent 9 years as a school trustee representing the Beaches and part of Riverdale.
Her next step was a decision to run for city Councillor in Toronto and for the last 9 years Sandra Bussin has been the city councillor, representing the Beaches/ East York area. To her long list of achievements Sandra Bussin has also added the titles of Deputy Mayor of Toronto as well as that of the first Speaker of Toronto’s City Council, a newly minted role which will streamline the operations of city council starting with the first meeting next Monday, February 5.