I don't think I have to write that the Mayoral office in Toronto has been a bit of an international laughing-stock during the last four years. Eager as I am to move on from scandalous youtube videos and Jon Stewart jokes, deciding where to place my vote is never as straightforward as I would wish. So to make the decision a little easier, I've put together a point-form summary of the top 3 mayoral platforms. Remember, election day is October 27 and every vote counts!
As you read through the points below, you'll notice that some of the platforms are outlined more comprehensively than others. This is because this article includes only information taken directly from the candidates websites, and some websites outline platforms better than others. My goal in doing this was to try and cut through the media circus and only include information which comes directly from the candidates themselves. So without further delay, in alphabetical order, here's what each candidate is promising Torontonians.
- Because 60% of TTC rides involve a bus, Olivia Chow will boost bus service immediately by investing $15 million a year.
- In order to improve transit conditions in Scarborough ASAP, Chow will break ground on the already approved and funded Scarborough LRT.
- Longer term transit goals include a crosstown subway relief line, a west-end LRT from Finch Station and a Yonge subway relief line.
- Chow also promised to invest in upgrades to existing TTC infrastructures, such as subway signals, to allow for more frequent service.
- The funds for transit investments will come from slightly increased taxes in certain areas. For example, Chow proposes raising land transfer taxes by 1% on homes values at over $2 million.
- Over four years, Chow promises to build 200km of designated bike lanes. This would triple the city's current number of bike lanes.
- Olivia Chow also promises to increase maintenance to bike lanes and improve snow removal for year-round cyclists.
- Other priorities include improving bike parking areas at transit stations and continuing to work toward mandated side-guards on trucks.
- For pedestrians, Chow wants to allow neighbourhoods to lower their speed limits by 10km/h, make known dangerous intersections safer by increasing crossing times and improving lighting at night, and introduce right angle curbs to force drivers to slow down which taking corners.
YOUTH & EMPLOYMENT
- Expand after school programs for kids to include 1200 more children and 40 additional neighbourhoods, allowing more parents to work without worrying about childcare. (Olivia's current after school program offers childcare for children aged 6-12 and activities such as sports and music at the low cost of $2.34 per child per day.)
- To increase youth employment, Chow would prioritize the hiring of young adults to run the expanded childcare program. She will also prioritize youth employment in her tree planting program (see below).
- To improve unemployment issues among young people, Chow wants to create 5000 new apprenticeships and jobs over four years. This will include mandating that "companies with big city contracts hire and train young people."
- Reduce small business taxes by $3 million a year to allow small businesses to create more jobs.
- Develop a program to help newcomers to Canada start businesses.
- Chow wants to plant 1 million trees over 10 years and will pay for it by ending pollution subsidies to businesses.
- Create online access to ferry tickets and park permits.
- Make it easier to organize larger events such as parades and festivals to encourage community building and tourism.
- Establish a public art foundation to beautify the city.
- Stop expansion of island airport
- Improve protection for wildlife on the waterfront and on Toronto Island
- Increase arts funding from $22.25 to $25 per year per capita.
- Create a city music office and music commissioner "to promote our music creators and bring music into our streets and parks". The city music office is modelled after Austin, Texas which generates significant economic activity from the music industry.
- Ensure that artists have access to affordable creative spaces such as Artscape.
- "Promote our cultural sector as a pillar of our economy".
All platform points are taken directly from www.oliviachow.ca
- Construct Scarborough subway extension. (This proposal is instead of the already approved and funded Scarborough LRT)
- Build a regional transit line "SmartTrack" from the airport in the west, through the downtown core/Union Station and ending in Markham. SmartTrack will feature 22 stops, 4 TTC connections and will be in service within 7 years.
- Provide new express bus routes with fewer stops.
- Prioritize a regional transit system similar to the RER in Paris to connect edge cities to the downtown core.
YOUTH & EMPLOYMENT
- Work with PAYE (Partnership to Advance Youth Employment) by doubling the number of companies working with their organization and expanding their scope to include small and medium sized businesses.
- Increasing coordination between the city's different youth employment services
- Create job opportunities through the construction of the Scarborough subway.
- Invest in teaching-hospital status for the Humber River Regional Hospital and a new medical school at York University to create a medical employment centre North-West of the city.
- Create a new business in the East Don lands by building 15 million square feet of offices, retail space, and residential developments funded by private investors.
- Tory plans to plant 3.8 million trees over the next 10 years.
- Create a music office modelled after the one in Austin, Texas to promote more activity from the music industry and reduce red tape for festivals and events.
- Increase the size and scope of outdoor music festivals.
- Work with the music community to promote music-related tourism in Toronto.
All platform points are taken directly from www.johntory.ca
- Opposes plans to tear down the Gardiner Expressway
- Supports subway expansion including subway lines to Scarborough and Humber College; a Yonge relief line from Dundas West to Pape stations via Queen St., and extended Eglinton relief line.
- Promises to invest in transit and transportation infrastructure.
- Opposes implementation of road tolls
- Wants to phase out the Land Transfer Tax
- Promises to keep property and commercial taxes low.
- Supports island airport expansion
- Wants to contract out garbage collection east of Yonge St.
All platform points are taken directly from www.dougford.ca
This campaign has already been a bit of a roller-coaster ride, with shifting candidates and front-runners dropping out of debates, the race isn't over yet! Stay tuned for updates and vote vote vote!