October 4, 2018 12:25 pm
Updated: October 18, 2018 9:44 am

Toronto Election 2018: Key campaign promises from John Tory and Jennifer Keesmaat

Affordable housing, city taxes and public transit were just some of the topics argued by four of the city's mayoral candidates during a debate that was hosted by Global News.


John Tory is seeking a second consecutive term as mayor of Toronto and his biggest challenger is former chief city planner Jennifer Keesmaat.

Story continues below

Tory, a former Ontario Progressive Conservative party leader from 2004 to 2009, defeated Doug Ford for the mayoral seat in 2014. He was elected on promises to build his SmartTrack transit plan, end gridlock, create more bike lanes and add more jobs for youth. He has said publicly that he will not seek a third term in office.

READ MORE: Toronto mayoral candidates face off in Global News debate

Keesmaat, who entered the mayoral race on the last day candidates could register, served as Toronto chief planner from 2012 to 2017. During her term, she oversaw the city’s transit network plan as well as cycling initiatives such as the King Street pilot project.

The future of the Gardiner Expressway saw Keesmaat speak out against an elevated portion of the roadway, a position she publicly sparred with Tory on. She wanted to have it torn down and replaced with a boulevard. Council subsequently voted in favour of the “hybrid” plan, which maintains the elevated expressway.

TORONTO ELECTION 2018: Who’s running for council, and how, where and when to vote

Below is a comparison of policies from the two candidates for the upcoming 2018 municipal election. This page will be updated as the campaign continues.

Affordable housing

John Tory has promised to build 40,000 affordable rental units over 12 years. He has also campaigned to leverage city lands, including lands surrounding TTC stations and transit-accessible locations, for future housing units. He has promised to create an affordable housing secretariat to co-ordinate the city’s affordable housing initiatives.

READ MORE: Toronto Community Housing lottery highlights housing crisis amid election

Jennifer Keesmaat has promised to build 100,000 affordable housing units in 10 years. She, like Tory, plans to leverage city-owned land to build affordable housing. She has also campaigned on using the federal National Housing Strategy funds to build new rental units and ensure that rents stay affordable. Keesmaat also proposes a rent-to-own home ownership program which will be paid for with a 0.4 per cent property surtax on luxury homes.

VIDEO: Tory attacks Keesmaat for lack of proposals over public housing

Arts and culture

Keesmaat plans to double per capita investment in arts and culture in the next five years to bring it in line with other Canadian cities. She also wants to build five new culture hubs in Scarborough, Etobicoke, East York, and North York. Also included is doubling the Culture Build Investment Fund to expand access to arts and culture spaces outside the downtown core. She will conduct a city-wide assessment of arts and culture to identify gaps and opportunities for new facilities and programming.

Tory, like Keesmaat, will double the city’s Culture Build Investment Fund from $330,000 to $660,000 and find a new target for per capita funding. He will declare a year of public art in 2020 that will see a new piece of legacy art in neighbourhoods across the city. His plan also includes an increase to StreetArt partnership grants to $1 million to bring street art to neighbourhoods across the city. Tory promises to improve the quality of developer-funded art by creating a citywide public art master plan and continue to expand film studio space in the city. He will also work to preserve music venues, create new mid-sized venues, and reduce barriers for local artists to access these venues.


Tory promises to forge ahead with his SmartTrack plan first introduced in 2014. Originally slated to consist of 22 stations, the current plan now has only six stations. TTC discounts for seniors will stay in place, as well as free fares for children under 12. Tory says he will continue to improve TTC service, such as adding community buses and making the transit system more customer friendly.

READ MORE: Toronto mayoral candidate Jennifer Keesmaat lays out transit plan

Keesmaat, who says Tory’s SmartTrack “will never be built,” has focused her $50-billion transit plan on getting the downtown relief line built at least three years faster than the original completion date, making the King Street Pilot program permanent and pushing ahead with a three-stop Scarborough subway, which includes extending the Eglinton East LRT to UTSC and Malvern Town Centre. Her plan would also extend the Eglinton LRT to the airport, designing and building the Jane LRT and completing the Waterfront LRT.

VIDEO: Tory holds up provincial approval for SmartTrack during mayoral debate

Gardiner Expressway east

Keesmaat vows to replace the 1.7-kilometre eastern portion of the Gardiner Expressway with a boulevard. She says it will save taxpayers up to $500 million to tear down the elevated portion, as opposed to keeping it for the “hybrid” option which was approved by city council in 2015.

READ MORE: Keesmaat commits to tearing down eastern portion of Gardiner Expressway

Tory supported keeping the elevated portion of the expressway as part of the $1-billion rebuild.

Crime and community safety

Tory says he is committed to matching a provincial investment of $25 million to fight crime in the city. He says one-third will go to police with the other two-thirds going to community programs, such as youth programs and job fairs. Tory’s community safety plan includes pressing federal officials on a handgun ban. He also promises to establish a community safety advisory body in 2019.

READ MORE: Should Canada ban handguns? Debate stirs after Danforth mass shooting

Keesmaat would put a heavy emphasis on a neighbourhood-centred approach to policing within four years. She would also provide economic opportunities and support for youth by leveraging community benefit agreements on major infrastructure projects and offer employment opportunities for at-risk communities. She plans to improve 911 response times and ensure mental health workers are dispatched to emergencies when dealing with people in crisis. Keesmaat also supports a handgun and ammunition ban for Toronto.

VIDEO: Keesmaat vows to ban handguns and ammunition in Toronto if elected

Road safety

Keesmaat wants to reduce the speed limit to 30 km/h on all residential roads and ensure areas around schools are safe by design within two years. She would make a “Vision Zero” approach a requirement of every infrastructure and development project involving roads and sidewalks. She also pledges to transform Toronto’s 100 most dangerous intersections within two years.

Tory continues to support the city’s Vision Zero Road Safety Plan, which targets street interventions and redesign, the launch of a photo radar pilot program in school zones, enhanced bike lanes, and increased enforcement along major walking and cycling routes.

VIDEO: Jennifer Keesmaat says John Tory has not acted to reduce congestion


Tory says he will keep property taxes at or below the rate of inflation for another four years.

Keesmaat says she will not raise property taxes above inflation.

WATCH: Candidate pitches gender parity on council, but the numbers don’t look good

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Report an error


Want to discuss? Please read our Commenting Policy first.