Municipal elections are often fought around matters of local importance, but a number of issues have emerged in various Ontario races that resonate broadly. Here are five that transcend municipal lines:
HOUSING: Homes may still be affordable in jurisdictions outside of big cities, but mayors and councillors say housing supply and accessibility represents one of the most crucial challenges new municipal governments must tackle. They say the existing housing supply isn’t well-suited to aging populations, who face the prospect of moving away from their home communities to get necessary support. They say there’s an urgent shortage of housing options that can cater to this demographic as their needs evolve in the coming years.
TRANSPORTATION: While urban centres debate subway projects, smaller communities say they’re wrestling with distinct but similar mass transit issues. They say residents have limited means of travelling throughout their home regions, especially in the north. Some are calling for provincial help to establish bus networks, while others are looking to the private sector for solutions.
INFRASTRUCTURE: Whether it’s roads, bridges or buildings, officials say most municipalities can point to a local infrastructure project in need of attention. Election debates often centre on what those projects should be and how best to tackle them.
TAXATION: No infrastructure discussion is complete without a debate on how to pay for projects. Local politicians say taxation is one of the most common issues they hear about from their constituents. They say many of those residents question the value they get for their money, particularly in areas where the municipality doesn’t provide services like water or waste disposal.
CANNABIS: Now that recreational weed is legal across Canada, some officials say incoming municipal councils will find themselves figuring out how to deal with it at the local level. The Ontario government has given municipalities until Jan. 22, 2019 to decide whether to allow private retail cannabis outlets to open within their borders or opt out, and some politicians say residents have been making their views known to candidates knocking on their doors.