Ward 3 candidates debate transit

Frank D’Urzo (left) and Peter Fenech joined the top candidates for the Etobicoke Centre council seat in a debate Oct. 14. Photo by Javon Walker Frank D’Urzo (left) and Peter Fenech joined the top candidates for the Etobicoke Centre council seat in a debate Oct. 14. Photo by Javon Walker
Javon Walker
North Etobicoke Reporter

Civic engagement agency Our Place Initiative hosted a transit-themed debate between Ward 3 candidates Oct. 14 at Richview Collegiate.

Stephen Holyday, son of former Ward 3 councilor Doug Holyday, took the stage with Frank D’Urzo, Peter Fenech and John Moskalyk to defend their platforms and vision for the future of Etobicoke Centre.

Field director of Our Place Murray Foster said the candidates in attendance best represented the most popular options available.

“I think the candidates on stage tonight were the ones who were considered the front runners,” Foster said after the event.
Although the candidates are rivals, there are many topics on which they agreed.

“The TTC has a lot of great planners. Sometimes we need to listen to them,” Holyday said, to which Fenech added, “The studies are there. The ideas are there. Now’s the time to back these ideas.”

“There seems to be a lot of starts and stops and false starts,” said Moskalyk, an avid supporter of John Tory’s SmartTrack plan. “Toronto is 17 years behind in its transit. If we want to remain a world-class city we need to keep up with transit.”

All four candidates said the Presto fare-payment card is crucial for Toronto’s transit being modernized.
“It’s taking far too long for the Presto card to be implemented,” D’Urzo said.

“Living in Ward 3, we can get to Mississauga a lot quicker than it would take to get to Scarborough, but it costs three dollars more,” Fenech said.

D’Urzo said the Presto card would increase ridership, which in turn would create a positive domino effect for the TTC, like potentially adding more subway stations. Moskalyk added that efficiency outweighs the cost and Holyday said riders have to “move away from paper transfers.”

All candidates agreed about the need to take cars off the road. Holyday and Moskalyk said there needs to be more parking lots, while Fenech feels more parking lots means more cars will be on the roads driving to those spots.

Some voters in attendance said the candidates didn’t flesh out certain hot topics enough.

“I was a bit surprised nobody got into John Tory’s SmartTrack more. It was sort of mentioned but I think it could have been dissected more,” Foster said.

Regardless, Foster said he felt Our Place Initiative accomplished what it set out to do with this debate.

“It’s one thing to read a website of a candidate. It’s another to see them in the flesh and see how they respond under pressure, under questioning and just really giving them a chance to expand their platform,” he said.

Tracy Baker, a resident of Etobicoke Centre for 33 years who was in attendance, shared similar sentiments.

“You see everybody’s signs everywhere but you have no clue about who these people are or what they represent,” Baker said. “So coming out to a forum like this and listening to them was really helpful. In fact I know who I’m going to vote for now.”

“Our hope is that these events start building their own momentum, so people come out to them and enjoy them and feel more informed and more engaged,” Foster said.

“We thought it was a great success and anyone who is concerned about Etobicoke and wants to become more informed and more engaged should go to our website, www.OurPlaceInitiative.com”