With municipal elections just five weeks away, Lekan Olawoye is confident he can unseat Frank Di Giorgio in York South-Weston.
The incumbent has been the Ward 12 councillor since 2000 after serving a dozen years on North York council.
Canvassing the ward seven days a week with the support of nearly 400 volunteers, Olawoye said it’s evident that residents are ready for change.
“They are looking for transformation and something different,” he said. “I believe I can provide that because I live and work in the community and I care about local issues.”
Olawoye said his election platform was devised based on the constituents’ concerns.
“We have been listening to the community for the last six months to find out what are their concerns and issues,” he said. “My policy platform is based on community engagement. I will promote local jobs, build safe and healthy neighbourhoods, advocate for tenants and homeowners, provide support for families to ensure there are more recreational programming at the (new) York Community Centre, advocate for better transit and safer streets and most of all, serve the residents in a manner that they deserve. I am not going to stop canvassing because I have won. I will inform them about local issues that matter to them and respond to their concerns within 48 hours.”
The holder of undergraduate and Master’s degrees in social work, Olawoye is extremely active in the community.
He was a Toronto Community Housing youth economic opportunities consultant, Tropicana Community Services youth engagement co-ordinator, MicroSkills board member and DiverseCity Fellow before assuming his current roles as regional director for Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI), executive director of For Youth Initiative in Toronto and chair of the first-ever Premier’s Council on Youth Opportunities in March, 2013.
Olawoye supports the advisory council to engage with youth, young professionals and community partners to ensure that young people across the province have the tools they need to help them succeed.
Born in Nigeria, he migrated to Canada with his mother and two other siblings when he was eight years old.
Moving to Canada in the early 1970s, Olawoye’s father studied architecture before returning home to work and settle with his family.
“Unfortunately, he died of natural causes when I was just a year old, and my mother was left with three children under the age of six to care for on her own,” said Olawoye. “She brought us here so we can have opportunities to shine. I am the man I am today because of my mother and my father’s vision.”
The Toronto Community Foundation’s Vital People Award recipient in 2011, Olawoye said his passion for politics comes from his lived experience.
“I grew up in Rexdale where we were neglected and forgotten,” he said. “We didn’t have elected officials that really represented us. I know the importance of government and the role it plays in building a healthy and strong community. I want to be that councillor that work for our people and support them. We have had the same councillor here for many years and the neglect is obvious. We need to be better. In fact, I know we can be better.”