Fundraising network aims to help aspiring city politicians with eco-focused platforms
STAFF REPORTER - Toronto Star
"Big heart, big brain, big soul – all green."
That's how Toronto City Councillor Paula Fletcher describes lawyer, urban planner and activist David Donnelly, who also happens to live in her Riverdale ward.
Battle plans for many of the environmental skirmishes being fought in communities that shoulder Toronto are drawn on Donnelly's downtown desk. Think Big Pipe, the Oak Ridges Moraine, Boyd Park, Bayview Extension and Big Bay Point Resort.
His small army of allies is growing, thanks in part to the platform and fundraising network created before the 2006 municipal election by Donnelly, first-term Pickering councillor Bonnie Littley, Liberal insider Judy Pfeifer and Richmond Hill naturalist Natalie Helferty.
They dubbed it Green Divas for Council.
The idea was to give a helping hand to environmental candidates willing to take on the developers at municipal councils.
"There's an incredible wealth of very committed, passionate, professional, sophisticated people who are shut out of the (political) process because no one will open the door or give them resources," says Donnelly, 44.
"Municipal politics and federal politics is an elite club, and it's closed to a great extent. ... Even though there is
incredible support and sympathy amongst the voters for independent, environmentally minded candidates, no club exists to help with the fundraising, give them some policy ideas for their platform, and they're not united."
The Divas' Green Agenda, with an introductory letter signed by singer-activist and Donnelly client Sarah Harmer, says a Divas candidate:
- Will not accept contributions from developers;
- Will not shrink the Greenbelt;
- Will promote green building standards.
Donnelly's green heroes aren't all women.
He lists Oakville Mayor Rob Burton among the "divos" and says there are bright spots on the regional landscape, thanks to the work of that council and others, such as those of Ajax and Markham, which are also making progress.
Toronto Star: http://www.thestar.com/specialsections/article/577745