Humber College’s Lakeshore campus played host to debate for Ward 6 city council candidates on Oct. 16 to discuss one of the major concerns for Toronto – transit.
With 10 candidates present and an auditorium with approximately 70 spectators, a discussion of how to deal with Etobicoke transit held the room’s attention. Incumbent candidate Mark Grimes said that although public transit could be better, it’s not awful.
“We’re very well served by transit in the Etobicoke area,” Grimes said in his opening statement.
Despite Grimes’ optimism, the rest of the panel disagreed.
“What we need to see in Etobicoke, and the City of Toronto as a whole, is an entirely new strategy towards transit,” candidate Michael Laxer said.
Transit fares and how candidates would commit to maintaining, if not lowering them, was another topic of discussion.
“Transit fares are about accessibility. We need to freeze transit fares and we need to stop the competition on the roads between cyclists, pedestrians and motorists,” said candidate Russ Ford.
“The 145 Express bus that travels from Kipling to downtown Toronto has a charge of two tokens, $6 approximately. I’d like to get that reduced,” he said.
A question that piqued everyone’s interest was who would each Ward 6 candidate support in the mayoral debate in terms of transit plans, and why. The answers were divided as some candidates settled for one mayoral choice, while others chose to point out parts of each plan that they would blend together.
“I believe that all three plans fall short of what the City of Toronto needs. We need to move Toronto forward,” candidate Miroslaw Jankielewicz said.
Questions were opened to the floor, covering topics such as where the money would come from to fix transit issues and childcare and youth development.
“I’m prepared to work with anybody that gets in as mayor. But who I vote for should be between me, myself and I,” candidate Sean O’Callaghan said.
Candidates were stumped when asked to assess Queen Street and King Street and whether they would consider making them one-way streets in order to keep the flow of traffic moving.
“They are now looking at that, having King one way and Queen the other way. Although it would be with streetcars, not buses,” Grimes said. “Those streetcars carry almost four times as much as bus. But that is on the table.”