The municipal election is only a few weeks away, and advanced polling has already started. The ward 30 city council candidates are in the final stretch of convincing voters.
Last week a debate aired on Rogers TV with six ward 30 candidates: Jane Farrow, Paula Fletcher, Francis Russell, Daniel Trayes, and Liz West. If you’re a Rogers subscriber you can watch the debate online at rogerstv.com
The first question of the debate was about crime and community safety, which has been in the news recently after the stabbing on the Danforth. All of the candidates agreed that community involvement helps make the community safer. Paula Fletcher contacted 55 division and they have said they have stepped up patrols in the Danforth area after the recent violence there. Fletcher also raised the issue that the Beer store and LCBO as well as a few bars in the neighborhood may be selling alcohol to intoxicated people which causes crime.
“The city has to look at how they are nickel and diming small businesses right now” Liz West
When asked about small businesses and how to revitalize streets with empty storefronts Liz West said that red tape, permit paperwork and fees and property taxes are hurting small businesses. Dan Trayes pointed out that Toronto has one of the lowest tax rates in the GTA. Paula Fletcher pointed out that she helped create a separate classification for small businesses to reduce property taxes for them, and that there are services in place to help local businesses through the permitting paperwork. Fletcher also said we need to change the tax structure so that building owners are not given tax breaks on vacant properties since it incentivizes buildings to stay empty. Jane Farrow mentioned that the city should work to clean up abandoned buildings quickly and should encourage more cultural and arts uses of our buildings.
On the topic of affordable housing Jane Farrow and Paula Fletcher agreed that we need to find solutions to create affordable housing. Farrow brought up the idea of making it easier to create new forms of housing such as laneway homes in our back alleys, and making it easier to get financing to allow multiple families to cooperatively purchase a house. Liz West brought the issue back to taxes again, claiming that property taxes and the land transfer tax are contributing to the affordability problem.
When discussing public transit Farrow advocated for using a timed transfer and Fletcher suggested off-peak discounts to balance the demand. West expressed a lot of frustration that the city has failed to build new transit infrastructure but did not seem to offer up many solutions. West and Fletcher were talking over each other when Fletcher tried to explain the reason that progress has been stalled is due to mayor Ford canceling the transit city plan.
“It’s fairy tales unless we actually do have real conversations about how we do pay for it” … “I’m willing to say tolls, HOV lanes, parking and congestion levies” Jane Farrow
Farrow said that all these transit schemes are “fairy tales” unless there are plans to pay for it and said she was in favour of congestion charges, road tolls and parking levies to pay for it. Fletcher followed up by saying that the Federal and Provincial governments need to step up and pay their share. West also said she was in favor of congestion charges and working with higher levels of government.
When asked if we should tear down the eastern section of the Gardiner express way, Paula Fletcher said yes, but only up to Cherry street, and Jane Farrow said we should tear it down and re-construct it at a different route to open up the waterfront. The other candidates were opposed to tearing it down.
Liz West is in favour of privatizing garbage collection east of Yonge Street, and the other candidates abstained or were opposed.
According to Liz West’s page there is another candidates debate planned for October 22 at 6:30 p.m. at Jimmie Simpson.