Transit was the hot issue of the night at the Town Crier’s all-candidates debate for St. Paul’s Ward 22.
Seniors, parents with young children came out to the First Unitarian Congregation of Toronto to hear what council candidates Chris Sellors, Josh Matlow and William Molls had to say about development, resident engagement and the TTC.
Sellors doesn’t support the currently approved Transit City plan for light rapid transit lines as he favours subways instead.
“About 96 percent of people I talk to say we should still be in the business of building subways,” said Sellors, who was the executive assistant to retiring councillor Michael Walker.
He supports using the $4.6 billion from the province towards subways including a line across Eglinton.
“We should have built it (Eglinton subway line) 30 years ago. We tried to build it 15 years ago. We need to build it now,” he said.
Molls, a 22 year old local resident who joked he looks 14, is pushing for the Transit City plan.
“With the LRT we can build capacity for years to come. It’s not realistic to say we can build 20 kilometres of subways,” said Molls, who said transit is his main reason for running. “Another subway line (right now) would bankrupt the TTC.”
Matlow, who has been the school trustee since 2003, is in favour of the Metrolinx-Transit City plan for LRTs.
“There’s already an approved plan for an underground LRT along Eglinton,” commented Matlow. “I will make sure it (LRT project) will be done on time.”
He also mentioned some seniors are concerned about the distance between stops along the Eglinton LRT and that’s something he will look into.
All three candidates agreed the TTC needs to improve on accessibility, customer service and even better use of technology such as some form of electronic payment method.
One parent raised the issue of having a strata plan for Yonge and Eglinton that caps the amount of density on city-owned TTC lands at 40 storeys which led into a broader discussion of community involvement in how the ward will develop in the future.
Sellors, who worked on this in Walker’s office, said the strata plan was the result of a lot of public input.
Matlow mentioned how he was able to get residents involved in the redevelopment of on a different project for the redevelopment of North Toronto Collegiate Institute by having them sign a memorandum of understanding on that development.
Sellors and Matlow had a heated discussion on whether or not the memorandum of understanding was signed before or after the public meetings held regarding this project.
“Michael Walker championed this at council so unless you (Sellors) took a bathroom break during the whole process (you should know),” Matlow said to Sellors about the fact meetings took place.
“Yes there were public meetings,” said Sellors. “After the memorandum of understanding.”
Molls who lives next to the school said these arguments about when meetings took place are an example of what can turn people off of the political process.
“I think these are the kind of bureaucratic mazes people get lost in,” Molls said.
Candidate Elizabeth Cook was contacted repeatedly about tonight’s debate but she did not respond to messages to attend.
For a recap of the live blog of the evening’s discussion click here.
For audience reaction to what was said at the debate click here.
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