A self-proclaimed “devoted advocate of public spaces” will run for council in Ward 30 Toronto-Danforth, paving the way for what could become a closely contested three-way race.

Former CBC radio host and city hall staffer Jane Farrow filed her paperwork Tuesday morning and will likely square off against long-time incumbent Paula Fletcher and TV host Liz West in the traditionally left-leaning east-end ward, which Fletcher won by just 259 votes in 2010.

Dan Trayes, Mark Borden and Kim Diep are also on the ballot.

“As you know in the last election Coun. Fletcher almost got beat by Liz West and that spoke volumes about the mood of the people and I think that momentum and feeling has only increased over the last four years as the community has seen partisan politics really just tear away at the fibre of the city,” Farrow told CP24.com on Tuesday. “I think there is going to be change in Toronto-Danforth but I want people to have a choice of a solidly progressive candidate instead of what is on the ballot right now. The neighbourhood deserves a different style of leadership and one that is much more focussed on building bridges.”

Filling the Vaughan void

Farrow was the first executive director of Jane’s Walk, growing the series of walking tours inspired by author and urbanist Jane Jacobs into an international movement that now includes similar walks in more than 75 cities worldwide.

More recently, Farrow had worked as the executive assistant to Ward 32 Coun. Mary Mary-Margaret McMahon, though she left city hall in 2013 to do some urban and neighbourhood planning consultant work for a Toronto-based agency.

Discussing her entrance into the race with CP24.com on Tuesday, Farrow said she views herself as someone cast in the Adam Vaughan mould, who will work with developers to ensure that the city continues to grow while also paying attention to micro-level issues like green spaces, bike lanes and walkability to make sure neighbourhoods can still thrive.

“You have to go to the community and work with the community to designate what their priorities are and what they do or do not want but you also have to recognize that change happens and you just can’t shrink wrap a neighbourhood and keep it the way it is and I think that is something that Adam Vaughan really championed and rolled out very effectively in his ward,” Farrow said of the former Ward 20 councillor who recently resigned to run as a Liberal in the federal by-election in Trinity-Spadina. “His ward has a vast amount of development, but you didn’t see a lot of developers running to the OMB (Ontario Municipal Board) because he was able to really create vital and robust conversations and bring everybody to the table.”

Vote split possible

Though Ward 30 has long been represented by left-leaning councillors, including the late NDP Leader Jack Layton, there is some speculation that it could shift to the more right-leaning Liz West in October.

Farrow, however, said she is not concerned about a vote split in the ward, which is bounded by Danforth Avenue to north, Lake Ontario to the south, the Don Valley Parkway to the west and Coxwell Avenue to the east.

“This is going to be a big one (the race) but I would really regret it if I didn’t give it a shot,” she said. “We need a lot less ideology and lot more ideas.”

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