Reflecting on the past, looking to the future
Coun. Tony Wong’s contribution to Thornhill
HE WAS JUST, dedicated, compassionate, intelligent, meticulous. These are just a few descriptors of our recently departed colleague and friend of Thornhill — regional councillor Tony C. Wong. With his untimely passing in June, council lost one of its most dedicated members. I thought it was important to take a moment to reflect upon the man and powerhouse politician we were privileged to know and work with.
In sitting down to write this piece, I was struck by the fact that at first blush this article wasn’t an idea or a debate. Then I realized that it was entirely about an idea, perhaps one of the most powerful and important ideas of all: that a person can do amazing, inspired things when motivated by a strong sense of justice and fairness. This was the essence of Tony Wong.
Always a strong voice for Thornhill and our issues, he helped to shape our community in so many ways as councillor and MPP for Markham. His hallmarks were to work to inspire others, collaborate and lead. He focused on issues of social justice, economic development, diversity and the environment.
He excelled in the areas of affordable housing, and he championed diversity as our strength. He helped establish the anti-smoking ban and reduced pesticide use on town property, culminating in one of strongest pesticide bylaws in the province. He fought to protect natural areas like Settlers Park and Pamona Meadow. Transit was a priority, and he fought widenings and opted for progressive options, always with his eye toward a greener future.
In September, council appointed Coun. Joe Virgilio to fill Tony Wong’s seat. I know that Coun. Virgilio will display the heart and fairness qualities that Coun. Wong possessed. His vision will live on in our actions and our hearts.