Rookie coun­cil­lor for Scar­bor­ough brim­ming with self-con­fi­dence

StarMetro Toronto - - TORONTO - Francine Kopun

Cyn­thia Lai be­lieves in Cyn­thia Lai.

There are other things the real­tor and first-term coun­cil­lor for Ward 23 (Scar­bor­ough North) be­lieves in — like sub­ways.

Perched at a bistro ta­ble by the win­dow of her small of­fice with dark vi­o­let walls, in a Markham com­mer­cial build­ing across the street from a plaza pop­u­lated by Chi­nese mer­chants sell­ing food, she leans for­ward con­spir­a­to­ri­ally, invit­ing her lis­tener to lean in, too, over a Wechat mes­sage glow­ing brightly on her cell­phone. She trans­lates a text writ­ten in Chi­nese, be­neath a photo of a map of the Tokyo sub­way.

The mes­sage is from a con­stituent, trav­el­ling in Asia.

“I’m count­ing on you,” Lai trans­lates. “I want the Sheppard sub­way to be ex­tended and I want this type of sub­way to be in Toronto.”

Lai laughs. The Tokyo sub­way is so far ahead of Toronto’s, it seems like a fairy tale.

“I’m a sub­way cham­pion. Any world-class city, the first thing they do is build tran­sit,” says Lai, adding that she has been told that po­ten­tial rid­er­ship is not suf­fi­cient to sup­port a sub­way ex­ten­sion along the Sheppard line.

“We have to be vi­sion­ary. With the pop­u­la­tion growth, you don’t wait for the rid­er­ship.”

Cyn­thia Lai was elected a coun­cil­lor for the new Ward 23 in the Oct. 22 elec­tion.

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