Toronto election: Candidates in St. Paul’s ward say transportation top of mind for voters

Click to play video: 'Toronto election: Transit drives battle for Ward 12 Toronto–St. Paul’s' Toronto election: Transit drives battle for Ward 12 Toronto–St. Paul’s
WATCH ABOVE: Toronto--St. Paul's is another race being defined by two popular incumbent councillors fighting for the same seat. One way they're trying to set themselves apart is by tackling transit issues in the densely populated ward. Matthew Bingley reports – Oct 18, 2018

With voters set to cast their ballots in Monday’s election, the two incumbent council candidates squaring off in the midtown ward of Toronto–St. Paul’s say transportation is the top issue for residents.

“I can say from talking to individuals that they are really upset about the lack of progress on mobility along the Yonge Street corridor. The Yonge Street subway is full — it is absolutely jam-packed and people are having to wait two or three subway cars just to get on,” Joe Mihevc told Global News.

Mihevc, who was first elected as Ward 21 councillor in 2000 and re-elected in 2003, 2006, 2010 and 2014, is running in the new Ward 12 against Josh Matlow, who was first elected as Ward 22 councillor in 2010 and re-elected in 2014.

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Both candidates have been talking about solutions to address subway capacity issues. Even though they are competing against each other, Mihevc and Matlow reaffirmed their support for the downtown relief line and shared similar priorities when it comes to the transit file.

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Matlow, who has been vocally opposing spending billions on a one-stop extension of the Bloor-Danforth line to Scarborough Town Centre, said political interference on transit planning has made congestion worse on the TTC. He called the downtown relief line, which would connect Line 1 to Line 2 by a subway line running through the city’s downtown and the east end, a top priority.

“Unfortunately city council and the province for too many years have been focusing where they want to get votes in certain ridings rather than really emphasize what our expert planners have been telling us, that relief needs to come on the subway now because of overcrowding,” he said while pushing for more “evidence-based” transit planning.

TORONTO ELECTION 2018: Ward 12 Toronto–St. Paul’s

Mihevc too said he’s a supporter of building the downtown relief line.

“The faster we can get that relief line going, the better it is for the residents of Toronto. It’s just really about being realistic,” he said.

But with a new potential subway line at least a decade away from opening, Mihevc said he will push for a new north-south bus corridor plan if re-elected.

He said he wants to see new, frequent buses running on Mount Pleasant Road, Yonge Street and Avenue Road “to ease the pressure on the spine of the Yonge subway” during peak hours and provide choice for riders.

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Matlow is also championing bus service in the interim, calling for new or increased single-fare express buses on corridors such as Dufferin Street, Bathurst Street and Avenue Road “both to become more affordable and to incent people to use those buses rather than trying to cram themselves in the Yonge line.”

Campaigning on vision

As the two similar-minded council incumbents continue to mobilize their supporters, both candidates said they are not strongly campaigning against each other but rather they are running on their approach to community issues.

“Of course there’s a level of discomfort in these kinds of races where you have two colleagues working against each other for a single seat,” Mihevc said while touting commitments to bring new programs and services to areas like Yonge and Eglinton and Yonge and Davisville.

“You can do better. You can expect better. City hall can be there for you to provide that suite of services, like child care, seniors services, recreation services, that makes this a whole community and not just a set of high-rises where people don’t meet each other.”

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Matlow said his priorities centre around affordability, safer roads and better social services.

“I tell people about what I’m for and what I want to do for our community and for our city, rather than who I’m against,” he said.

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Despite a mutual pledge to keep it about the issues, Matlow said he has been consistent and has made “thoughtful decisions” on files such as transit. He took a small jab at Mihevc over a recent endorsement he received from mayoral candidate John Tory.

READ MORE: Council seat endorsements play strategic role in run-up to 2018 municipal election

“My opponent has been willing to make deals, even sometimes getting endorsements from others,” he said.

But Mihevc has been posting various endorsements on social media, said he too is feeling good about Monday’s vote.

“We’re getting more and more people saying, ‘Joe, you’re the man to unite St. Paul’s.'”

Also running to be councillor in Ward 12 are Iola Fortino, Artur Langu, Ian Lipton and Bob Murphy.

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