Mayoral candidate stances on 5 major Toronto election issues
Toronto goes to the polls Monday to vote for their favourite among three dozen candidates running for mayor. However, polls suggest no candidate poses a major threat to incumbent John Tory. His biggest threat is Jennifer Keesmaat, the city’s former chief planner, who entered the race mid-summer after Premier Doug Ford’s council-cutting decision threw the campaign into chaos.
Here are their stances on some of the issues facing Toronto:
Tory has said if he is re-elected, he plans on building 40,000 affordable rental units over 12 years.
He proposed an “affordable housing secretariat” to co-ordinate the city’s activities on the issue, and has suggested introducing affordable housing development plans alongside every major infrastructure project in the city.
Keesmaat said she plans to build 100,000 housing units over the next 10 years in an effort to tackle the lack of affordable rentals in Toronto.
She has also proposed a rent-to-own program financed by a surcharge on luxury properties that would target Torontonians who are struggling to transition from the rental market. The program would have tenants pay monthly instalments that goes towards a down-payment to eventually purchase the home for a set price.
Keesmaat wants the construction of the TTC subway relief line to be built three years earlier than the scheduled completion date of 2031. She has also said that she would make the downtown King Street pilot project, which restricts cars from travelling through a busy stretch of the road, permanent.
To address road safety, Keesmaat said she would reduce speed limits to 30 km/h on all residential roads and redesign intersections and school zones.
Tory touted his track record on transit and noted that under his leadership, Toronto city council approved the Transit Network Plan, which includes the creation of the relief line – a plan critics say doesn’t go far enough to reduce congestion in the city’s downtown core.
Tory has said he will match the Ontario government’s $25 million towards community safety programs in the city. He said he would also create a community safety advisory body.
He has proposed a handgun ban. He also said he hired 200 police officers in 2018 and he plans to hire 200 more in 2019.
Keesmaat has also said she would ban handguns and ammunition. She said she would address root causes of violence and focus on crime prevention by providing economic opportunities and programming for youth.
If elected, Keesmaat said in the first 100 days the city would request provincial amendments to property tax legislation to allow for a surtax on homes worth more than $4 million. She said this is to secure a “revenue stream” to fund the rent-to-own program.
Tory has proposed keeping property taxes at or below the rate of inflation over the next four years if he were to be re-elected. He said he would also secure funding from the provincial and federal governments to build infrastructure and tackle the city’s “capital backlog” so that the burden is not on property tax payers alone.
Tory has said he will continue to invest in cycling infrastructure in the city, including bike lanes, but has long come under fire from cycling advocates for doing little during his tenure.
Keesmaat has proposed tearing down the eastern portion of the Gardiner Expressway.
She said she will also commit to making Toronto greener and more sustainable by expanding green infrastructure projects such as the Queensway Sustainable Sidewalk and implementing a storm water management system.
© 2018 The Canadian Press