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The top 5 issues set to define the 2014 Toronto election

Posted by Chris Bateman / April 16, 2014

toronto island airportSo you want to be the next mayor of Toronto. Well, you'll have to learn to talk the talk on a bunch of issues that matter to the people of the city (or at least be good at deflecting questions for the next few months.) Toronto needs new transit and leadership on a range of issues from the expansion of Billy Bishop airport to who's going to pick up the garbage east of Yonge Street.

Here's a quick guide to the top 5 issues in the 2014 election.


toronto subway tunnelThe candidate who promises to build the most attractive public transit (and come up with a credible way to fund it) will likely have a good shot come October 27.

The Scarborough extension of the Bloor-Danforth line and the proposed Yonge relief line are the two issues that will dominate the discourse. On the subway vs. LRT topic, Rob Ford will stick to his hard-fought plan to build underground transit. John Tory and Karen Stintz like that idea too. Olivia Chow and David Soknacki promise to return to the fully-funded LRT plan and nix the associated subway tax hike.

On the relief line, Ford says he will build it after replacing the Sheppard and Finch LRTs with subways, though he hasn't said how. Tory says the line is his first priority but hasn't revealed a funding strategy. Stintz says she will pay for the first phase of the line by selling the majority of Toronto Hydro.

Chow and Soknacki both say they will build the line, the latter using money saved from cancelling the Scarborough subway extension. Chow hasn't revealed a funding plan.


The city essentially deferred a final decision on whether to allow jets out of Billy Bishop airport at its last meeting, meaning that whoever is in the mayor's office come 2015 will have to provide leadership on the issue. It will be important for the candidates to handle the topic well because, as we've seen, it stokes passions on both side of the debate.

Olivia Chow has come out against the Porter Airlines expansion plan, while Tory, Stintz and Soknacki haven't (as yet) taken a firm stance either way (lots of "ifs" and "whens".) Rob Ford, assuming he doesn't do a complete u-turn (or the aerial equivalent,) is in favour of a bigger downtown airport.


toronto gardiner expresswayTo kill the east Gardiner or not. The elevated road deck between Jarvis and the Don Valley Parkway is in dire need of a fix and, like it or not, needs to be replaced, closed for lengthy (and shockingly expensive) rehabilitation, or knocked down entirely. Doing nothing isn't an option any more. The road is literally falling down.

Rob Ford says he will invest in repairing the existing structure, which is the second cheapest option at $535 million. Olivia Chow and Karen Stintz like the idea of pursuing the "hybrid" proposal, which involves rebuilding the deck, reducing the number of lanes to four, and adding a shoulder. Also as part of this option, which will take six years to complete, Lake Shore Blvd. would be improved with new cycling trails and other tweaks. Soknacki and Tory haven't expressed an opinion.


In 2013, Rob Ford campaigned on, and successfully killed, the vehicle registration tax. This year, it's the municipal land transfer tax, which is applied when one buys land, and property tax, which is paid annually by property owners, that are the centre of revenue discussions. After all, the city's got plenty of stuff it needs to pay for (see above.)

Ford says he will cut the land transfer tax and keep other taxes low. Chow wants to keep the land transfer tax, keep property tax in line with inflation, and cut charges that apply to small businesses. Stintz says she will change the threshold for the land transfer tax and keep others in line with inflation.

John Tory wants to keep taxes at or below the rate of inflation. Soknacki has the most complex plan, which involves reducing apartment and commercial tax rates and overhauling the land transfer tax by tying it to the rate of inflation of house prices.


toronto garbageOne of Rob Ford's big successes during his first term of office was the contracting out of garbage collection west of Yonge. A staff report said the move saved the city $11.9 million, more than originally expected, and, naturally, Ford wants to do the same east of Yonge. So does John Tory.

Chow wants to wait before making the switch and Soknacki believes in phasing in privatization for the rest of the city. Karen Stintz has yet to express an opinion. Ford has partially backed Stintz's plan to sell off parts of Toronto Hydro, though he would only consider parting with 10% if re-elected.

Note: An earlier version of this post incorrect stated that repairing the Gardiner, the option supported by Rob Ford, is the cheapest option. Demolition is the cheapest. The "hybrid" option, supported by Olivia Chow and Karen Stintz, was listed as $865 million but Waterfront Toronto says it hasn't reached a price estimate yet.

Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.

Images: Chris Bateman/blogTO, twurdemann, Danielle Scott/blogTO Flickr pool.



Jenny / April 16, 2014 at 03:08 pm
These issues are not important, What's important is that anyone but Ford gets in. We cannot allow this to happen again.
Neil replying to a comment from Jenny / April 16, 2014 at 03:33 pm
I'm not a Rob Ford supporter either Jenny, but you're dead wrong if you truly think those 5 issues are smaller then Rob Ford being elected. Time for us to think smart on issues, not emotionally
Dr. Kukko / April 16, 2014 at 04:01 pm
I agree with Jenny. It is not emotional, it's symbolic AND a statement against incompetence and corruption.
Mike Harris / April 16, 2014 at 04:05 pm
Ford sucks.
Brent / April 16, 2014 at 04:20 pm
I would say it's a 2-parter. Yes, it's critical that Ford be ousted, but then you need to determine who to replace him with. Do you only want him out because of the crack and related misbehaviour, or because of policy? (Or because of unwillingness to play nicely in council, or etc...)

Disagree (sadly) with first sentence under transit. Should read "The candidate who promises to build the most attractive public transit will likely have a good shot come October 27." Recent history suggests that the part about "a credible way to fund it" is irrelevant to a large proportion of the electorate. ("The private sector / the province / the feds / the tooth fairy / unicorns / [fill in the blank] will take care of it!")
Claude / April 16, 2014 at 04:25 pm
If Ford is the main concern the city has, then that can easily be rectified by VOTING.

However, if you think fixing and/or tearing down the Gardiner is not a concern, you clearly do not ride it or live near by it.

There is a very real threat of a chunk falling down and crushing anyone who walks underneath it. Likewise, you also must not be paying attention to the city's ever increasing population and how the public transit system simply cannot handle it and should have been updated 10 years ago.
tripper / April 16, 2014 at 04:39 pm
I agree with Jenny. While those other issues are very important this election is about one thing only. Getting rid of Rob Ford.
Dan I(diot) Mimico / April 16, 2014 at 04:41 pm
Dr. Kukko / April 16, 2014 at 04:46 pm
Tory/Chow/Soknaki/Stintz are all competent and not corrupt. Therefore, the issues will be handled competently whether I agree with the specific solution or not. However, the CORRUPTION OF FORD MUST BE STAMPED OUT!
MER1978 / April 16, 2014 at 05:48 pm
Yup I can live with everything proposed by the two serious non Ford candidates so far thus I'm still totally good with voting based on who will beat crack mayor.
ScarboroughRYERSONStudent replying to a comment from Neil / April 16, 2014 at 06:34 pm
It's either you're a Rob Ford supporter or just a plain idiot. Of course Jenny is right. Having Rob Ford potentially getting re-elected is an issue. It's not about feelings. It's common sense.
Shane / April 16, 2014 at 06:41 pm
Relax, it won't be Ford, again.
It will be Ford, still.
Rob / April 16, 2014 at 06:49 pm
The sixth issue that isn't being discussed is the police budget. Approx. $1 billion goes (mostly) towards salary and yet we continue to hear stories of officers acting out-of-line and attacking/beating up citizens, carding them (unfortunately) and carry on like the best armed and paid gang in the city. It's too bad the main contenders won't take on this challenge of shrinking the budget in an era of lower crime, according to available stats, and in the face of the police (potentially, if this were to happen) launching a campaign about public safety and the need to have two officers beat the crap out of you / shooting you to death instead of one lowly officer.
Al Hunter (@rastalam) / April 16, 2014 at 06:54 pm
When the 'city' claims a savings, such as privatized garbage collection, there is a cost, mostly to those employees that no longer have a job or to those survive the change but with a reduced salary. Nothing is for free except now the profits go to a private owner!
Doug Ford / April 16, 2014 at 07:04 pm
Robdrunkito ergo sum. VOTE OLIVIA!
Kathy Ford / April 16, 2014 at 07:09 pm
The inky dinky Mayor climbed up the waterspout; down came the Vodka and washed the Mayor out; out came the Chow and dried up all the Vodka; and the inky dinky Rob went to rehab, jail and Deco.
N.V. / April 16, 2014 at 08:22 pm
Chow's policies and politics scares me more than Ford's drug/drinking habit.
Kathy / April 16, 2014 at 08:26 pm
And not one person commented on the fact that the councillors are voting to give themselves a 12.9%
Pay INCREASE. Would be nice if EVERYONE could vote themselves a raise!!!
Laura B / April 16, 2014 at 08:34 pm
VOTE CHOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Keep Ford out of office.
Wayne replying to a comment from Kathy / April 16, 2014 at 08:59 pm
I know Kathy I agree. I've found most people on here commenting are passionate about getting Ford out but not really into the actual municipal politics or the goings on at city hall.

Anytime I mention the other candidates or councillors issues alot of people jump all over saying "here goes Ford nation again trying to deflect and distract" which is not the case. There are alot of issues we could be having a healthy debate over. But even the Ford haters only want to continue to talk toilet humour about Ford. There are now other candidates and platforms we've all be screaming we want and we need that we should be discussing but unfortunately were not.

Aaron / April 16, 2014 at 09:12 pm
The east Gardiner has been proven that it's a developer that wants to tear it down (not Toronto) to build, you guessed it - MORE CONDOS. Doubt they'll be successful.

Ford, despite his personal problems, has saved taxpayers a ton of money, especially garbage. He has cleared many obstacles such as the car tax and returned a lane to teaffic on Jarvis.
Tom / April 16, 2014 at 09:15 pm
I am a conservative voter, but really the only issue is to have Ford removed. He has made our city and country a laughing stock. For the left he is unbearable, but for the right as well as anything he touches collapses. If you are a patriot and love your city and country then VOTE!!! but not for Ford, the only place this man needs to be in is rehab.. and his whole family getting help with psychotherapy. As for the others, again folks the Mayor in a Canadian city does not have that much power. In the end they only get their agenda through if they find compromises. I am more for Tory myself but even if Chow wins she won't be able to just start spending like that, she would have to wheel and deal and in the end we will get something more or less in the middle so the main issue here is to remove this unpatriotic moron Ford.
Pedro / April 16, 2014 at 09:17 pm
Correction: Repairing the Gardiner is not the cheapest option. Taking it down and replacing it with an enhanced Lakeshore Blvd. was determined to be the cheapest option and the one with more pros than cons.
Water into beer / April 16, 2014 at 09:19 pm
Seriously doubt that even a quarter of the commenters here will even vote and it doesn't take a Svengali to know who here owns property and pays taxes. Ford may be the reincarnation of Bozo the clown on an acid trip, but I have yet to see any evidence of corruption. You want corruption? Call Adam Vaughan.
Erin / April 16, 2014 at 09:25 pm
It is definitely going to be an interesting election. Does anyone know if the public can attend mayoral debates? I did try looking online to see if there was a list but was unable to find one.
Agreed / April 16, 2014 at 09:30 pm
Actually Tom I do agree that Ford has put a spotlight on Toronto, but why do we wallow in his filth and contribute and keep the laughing stock going ourselves with self created Ford youtube shorts and parodies, fake campaign signs, posting bad shots of him, covering his every move even when non news? We all know the wrong bad things hes done, most of which happened last year. Were now the ones still spewing his nonsense and laughing at him, but outside of Toronto the laughter is at all of us and Toronto not just Ford. Everyone needs to get out of the circus tent and avoid the mayou you LOVE to hate.
Agreed / April 16, 2014 at 09:31 pm
Actually Tom I do agree that Ford has put a spotlight on Toronto, but why do we wallow in his filth and contribute and keep the laughing stock going ourselves with self created Ford youtube shorts and parodies, fake campaign signs, posting bad shots of him, covering his every move even when non news? We all know the wrong bad things hes done, most of which happened last year. Were now the ones still spewing his nonsense and laughing at him, but outside of Toronto the laughter is at all of us and Toronto not just Ford. Everyone needs to get out of the circus tent and avoid the mayou you LOVE to hate.
Deb / April 16, 2014 at 09:35 pm
Yo Pedro sweetheart can you provide evidence to support your claim? The article started repairing is the cheapest, if you have facts that oppose the article please present them otherwise you "Correction:" means nothing.
linden / April 16, 2014 at 10:42 pm
in an ideal world, I imagine Gardiner competly removed but this would never happen so I am indifferent about its future.
I am ok with paying more taxes if they would be trully put towards public good- public transfortation or more people friendly city.
From all the issues I feel strongly against Porter expansion, and I may vote solely for the person, who is commited to stop the expansion.
I don't really care about Ford's stands on any of these issues and this would not change my choice because he is the type of person who opposes everything that is good for the city. He probably thinks Toronto is some kind of Las Vagas, where is ok to build casinos, ferris wheels, and highways so the suburbian residents can easily access the entertainment complex.
Doug Ford / April 16, 2014 at 11:13 pm
You really suck Rob. My dog would be a better Mayor. You're Mayor 40 - 1! It doesn't matter if you are re-elected cuz you STILL will do nothing!
Corruption of Ford / April 16, 2014 at 11:23 pm
Ford is corrupt in mind and body. He is rotting before our eyes; he is gangrenous. He has brought criminal influences into government and MUST BE IMPEACHED BY THE VOTERS!
Closer together. The Box. / April 16, 2014 at 11:24 pm
Can you please not help contribute to the circus rent? We get it your out to slam ford and the ford family name. Got it. Your anti ford and posting sarcasm towards anything Ford. Lift off success. message received, been there done that. NEXT!
HERE'S AN IDEA?!Tell me what you think and I'll launch it if there's enough interest... / April 17, 2014 at 12:25 am
HERE'S AN IDEA?! What if WE ALL REFUSE TO VOTE as these candidates aren't the quality we expect. Just because you pay $250 to register does not mean we accept you as a candidate.

HERES THE IDEA. SO what we do is crowd fund/source the city funding, we can all do it together. AND you know what reality is we haven't had an actual full performing Mayor in months and nothings really been changed or effected. Weve been out of a Mayor with full powers in months What if we change the way decisions are made and money is spent...
Lynn replying to a comment from Dr. Kukko / April 17, 2014 at 02:56 am
Karen Stintz isn't corrupt? Do your homework. Are you blind to the corruption of the TTC the last 35 years. That's a joke, she is right up there with Michael Warren.
Lynn replying to a comment from @Arsenault is a sissy! / April 17, 2014 at 03:16 am
You are a breath of fresh air.
So many other people would rather revel in attacking an easy target than actually focusing on Toronto's future. The simple labeling, pointless rhetoric and regurgitation of the same sensationalized nonsense is what I find disgusting. Whatever your beliefs about Ford in office, this hate mongering has no place. To see people devolving their arguments and their expectations over this, it's terrible. Be part of Toronto's future by helping to stop this snowballing distracting from the heart of matters. Show the press you are more interested in the serious situations we face, push the standards of we will tolerate instead of feeding this fire. No wonder it is so easy to make a joke of things, we have been giving consent to the circus.

I agree with you that Chow and Ford are front runners and they could dangerously split the vote. They might open the door for another Lastman or Miller type. I also agree that Chow is not here to be the mayor. I would go as far as to say I don't believe she has any place at this level of government. Her little ploy at her public announcement regarding her running was the first example of what showboating she brings.
Mike Harris / April 17, 2014 at 10:37 am
You are a breath of fartair. You can't think and are persuaded by the bullshit, do nothing antics of a criminal, drunk, high incompetent who doesn't - and can't - do his job. All you can understand is Mayor Creatures PR campaign to convince numbnuts like you that he has saved money. The truth is simply that you are a sucker that got sold a bill of goods.
Margo / April 17, 2014 at 02:46 pm
You forgot the 165,723 women, men and children waiting for social housing in this city
Rob Ford / April 17, 2014 at 03:08 pm
That's 165,723 losers who need a daily supply of crack, which is a lot cheaper than housing. I, Marie Antoinette Ford, say,"LET THEM EAT CRACK!"
Rob Ford / April 17, 2014 at 03:10 pm
See, I stopped the gravy train! And I'm not talking about my chronic diahrrea, either!
Circus Rent Contributor / April 17, 2014 at 05:05 pm
I likes da circus.
Awesome Sauce / April 17, 2014 at 07:39 pm
Watch the Rob Ford Campaign kick off live in all his glory.
Rob Ford / April 17, 2014 at 09:59 pm
So Rob's drunk on some 'awesome' scotch...or is it vodka - with crack 'n marijuana seasoning?
Mensa Man / April 17, 2014 at 10:03 pm
I vote Kathy a 12.9% increase in IQ! Too bad she's still Opportunity class material. DIM out in Mimico is her classmate.
Linda / April 17, 2014 at 10:42 pm
I vote you start speaking highly of the other candidates to raise their profile. Right now its almost as though the mass isn't even listening to them.
James / April 17, 2014 at 11:43 pm
#1 issue is why we're spending a billion dollars on cops who are too corrupt or incompetent to nail Rob Ford - even for a DUI.
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Mensa Man / April 18, 2014 at 06:33 am
I vote we show Linda how to read and write. Linda, you're first assignment: use the word 'mass' in a sentence properly.
Brain Surgery / April 18, 2014 at 06:46 am
We encourage Rob Ford to perform the brain surgery on himself that he so obviously needs.
Dan I(diot) Mimico / April 18, 2014 at 08:03 am
I partied with Mr. Ford last night! It was a real cement plant night!
matt mernagh / April 22, 2014 at 06:10 am
Actually doing something about these five issues will be important. Unfortunately most established don't want to make difficult decisions.
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