Mayoral Candidates Address BIA
To help members make an informed decision, the BIA reached out to mayoral candidates with a summary of challenges facing our neighbourhood. Below are their responses to our question:
Toronto’s economic and cultural prosperity, as well as its standing as a global city, depend heavily on a bustling and lively downtown core. However, the aftermath of the pandemic has resulted in reduced foot traffic, including fewer office workers, visitors, and tourists. The situation is being exacerbated by escalating safety concerns and ongoing challenges related to traffic, transit, and construction. As Canada’s largest city, finding solutions to these issues in Toronto will require the participation of the federal and provincial government, but it is the Mayor of Toronto who should set the tone and direction of those relationships.
As mayor, what specific actions or resources would you put in place to make downtown safe, accessible, and inviting for businesses, workers, local visitors and tourists?
Toronto’s downtown businesses are a key part of our city’s economic success. As Mayor, Ana will work with BIAs, small business owners, cultural institutions and all employers to attract jobs and investment and make sure our downtown rebounds and thrives.
The two main things Ana has heard from local BIAs and economic experts, including the Board of Trade, is the need for better transit and more affordable housing to both spur economic development and support growth. This must be a top priority for our City and Ana is the only candidate who can deliver.
That’s why Ana will reverse the TTC cuts, hire more TTC staff, increase security camera coverage on the TTC, and increase cleaning on our transit network, to bring residents back to our transit system. Ana has also introduced a plan to make the city safer for everyone. This means support for a well funded and well trained police service. It also includes support for increased mental health care and outreach work, and support for long-term changes so violent offenders aren’t in our streets, transit workers are protected, and Toronto has a fair deal from the provincial and federal governments.
Beyond investing in public transit and safety, we need a comprehensive plan to reduce gridlock across Toronto so that people can move in, out and around the city faster. As Mayor, Ana has a plan to fight gridlock and get the city moving downtown. She will:
- Prohibit lane closures downtown on Richmond, Adelaide, and Dundas between Bay and Victoria until Ontario Line construction completes.
- Extend construction hours so work can be done faster, and implement steep penalties for debris left on sidewalks and roads after projects are complete.
- Get tough on rush hour ticketing and towing by making the successful blitzes permanent and city-wide.
- Automate enforcement of tickets for drivers who “block the box.”
Most urgently, Toronto needs a Mayor who will address the housing crisis. Ana has a plan to build 285,000 new homes in the next decade, and will guarantee that a minimum of 57,000 homes are purpose-built rental. She will streamline planning approvals, and champion transformative planning regulations to build “missing middle” and affordable housing options for all residents so they don’t get pushed out of our city. In order to ensure a strong economic recovery, we need to make sure that people are able to afford to live in this city. Ana has a plan to make that happen.
Beyond making sure people can afford to live and move around in this city, we need to make sure that the city is vibrant and liveable. A strong cultural sector is key to Toronto’s ability to attract talent, tourism, investment, and boost local businesses. As Mayor, Ana will unlock affordable arts cultural spaces that will allow Toronto’s arts community the space to rehearse, create, perform, and teach. She will also drive employment opportunities and economic development by harnessing the power of Toronto’s post-secondary institutions, and global and multilingual workforce, to support Toronto being a global centre for culture and innovation.
Toronto needs an experienced leader who, on day one, will be ready to roll up her sleeves to fix services, build housing and support the downtown to be safe, accessible and inviting for businesses, residents and tourists alike. Ana is the Mayor who can deliver for downtown and for every corner of Toronto.
There is no doubt that downtown Toronto is the economic and cultural engine of Canada. Its bright lights and opportunities attract people from near and far, but lately, there is the feeling that those lights don’t shine quite as brightly. That the city is not the safe, clean, bustling place it once was. The good news, however, is that we can fix these problems before Toronto starts looking more like San Francisco or Vancouver.
I want to start by tackling the drug crisis because I believe it is at the heart of many of the problems with violence and disorder on our streets and public transit. I want to focus our resources on treatment and rehabilitation for drug users instead of growing the network of injection sites. This also includes putting a stop to the city’s distribution of drug paraphernalia in homeless shelters. A compassionate society doesn’t keep people on drugs, it helps to get them off drugs.
We also need to ensure that our downtown parks and green spaces are for everyone to enjoy. That is why I will not allow tent encampments to take hold in our public parks. Furthermore, I will require nearby injection site staff to do daily sweeps of parks to clean up needles and other drug related garbage. Our parks must be a safe respite for families, tourists and residents to enjoy.
In order to ensure the safety of our parks and streets I have also pledged to hire an additional 500 police officers and to encourage them to maintain a visible presence in our communities, especially downtown.
In addition to safe streets, parks and transit, I also want to ensure city bureaucracy and red tape are not hampering our downtown businesses. For example, restaurants are waiting way too long for the city to approve their patios. This has got to change and if I become Mayor, I will ensure that if a patio is not approved within six weeks, it is fast tracked for automatic approval. Also, I will abolish CafeTO fees.