Edward Chin, Ward 30 City Council candidate

Edward Chin is [was, in 2006] running for City Council in Ward 30 (the bottom half of our Toronto-Danforth riding), and looking for help from environmentally-minded residents…

I met Ed Chin through the Toronto Energy Coalition, when he came to a Steering Committee meeting.  He struck me as quiet and knowledgeable, and committed to the idea of reducing harm.  I soon discovered that he had an incredible array of experience, from biochemical research to paralegal to many positions in the theatre industry.  Now retired, he gives a great deal to the community, working in tax clinics, setting up computer centres, teaching ESL, and sitting on the Board of the Ralph Thornton Centre.

Last week, he sat down with me to tell me more about himself. He is a fascinating man.  Born of Chinese parents in Boston, Ed grew up in what he calls “Boston’s Chinese ghetto”, where he was painfully aware of the exclusion suffered by racial minorities.  Ed studied chemistry and math as a young man at Columbia University before spending a year in Germany and Denmark.  He speaks a version of Cantonese, English, German, and some French, some Danish and some Russian that he is learning for fun.  He returned from Germany to register for the Vietnam draft, but was prepared to face military jail if ordered to fight.  Instead, he was assigned to working in biomedical laboratories.  When his service ended, he went on to work at Columbia’s medical school, while simultaneously returning to study molecular biology at the University.  Nearing the end of his studies, he was recruited by the University of Pennsylvania to a teaching position.

The Columbia riots intervened.  Sympathizing with the students who opposed the Vietnam draft, Ed made the difficult decision that he needed to devote his life to helping people.  He spent the next years working as a paralegal focusing on housing for the poor.  He organized rent strikes for people living in substandard housing and offered other legal services.

Eventually, a friend arranged for Ed to get a job as a projectionist, which Ed thought was an easy way to make some money, while still leaving time to do other things.  He ended up spending 20 years in the theatre industry, both in film and on Broadway, working in production, post-production and backstage tech.

He came to Canada in 1980 on a work visa, married a Canadian in 1983, immigrated in 1984 and became a citizen in 1989.  He has one son and one grandson.  As a retiree, he dabbles in many interests.  He sits on the Board of the Ralph Thornton Centre and on 3 committees of the Riverdale Co-op, where he has lived for 13 years.  He enjoys computers, and helped incorporate the GTA Linux Users Group, a public freeware advocacy group.  He is setting up the Computer Learning Centre at Banglatown, a Bangladeshi community centre, and helped them incorporate.  He studied to become a financial investment advisor, and has been in charge of the tax clinics at Woodgreen for 8 years.  He is also a qualified ESL teacher and taught at Woodgreen.

He is the only candidate who opposes the construction of any power plant on the Portlands, and was one of the first signatories of my plan.  He would like, through legislation or incentives, to encourage greater energy efficiency in new construction.  He is particularly annoyed by the inefficiency of all-glass exterior construction.

Ed is interested in reaching out to immigrant communities and addressing their needs for improved access to services and employment.  He feels that our community has become a dumping ground for unwanted development because it has traditionally had the highest new immigrant population in the city.  He feels that new development should be integrated with new communities and planned in consultation with existing residents.

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