Crumbling apartment buildings and poor public housing conditions were a major issue at Monday night’s mayoral election at Centennial College in Scarborough.
The first three questions from the audience concerned public housing and rental apartments. Both challengers Jane Pitfield and Stephen LeDrew were quick to blame Mayor David Miller for the poor condition of Toronto’s apartments.
“The city is getting shabby and it is under Mayor Miller’s watch,” Ledrew said. “It is a shame that a city with the wealth and tax base of Toronto only builds eight to nine hundred public housing units a year.”
Pitfield spoke about her plan license apartment buildings similar to the way restaurants are being regulated in Toronto.
“We need to ensure accountability and responsibility from our inspectors,” Pitfield said. “I have caught the odd landlord who has taken advantage of the fact that these people (renters) simply don’t know how things are done in Toronto.”
What the candidates plan to do
The candidates then spoke about their plans to repair Toronto’s public housing. Miller spoke about the Toronto’s Tennant Defence Program, which allows tenants to bring their landlords in front of a tribunal where they can obtain rent rebates. Pitfield said she would obtain funds to improve Toronto’s public housing by lessening the city’s welfare budget.
“It is important to help people off welfare so we can direct the money spent on welfare to help repair public housing,” Pitfield said.
Pitfield also said that a lot of the city’s crime is occurring in Toronto’s public housing, and if she was elect mayor she would take measure to increase security in these areas.
LeDrew took issue with the tax rate Toronto’s renters are being charged.
“Toronto’s renters pay four times the tax rate as owners of single family homes do,” Ledrew said. “That is in my view such an inequity and so darn unfair.”
The debate can be viewed through webcast courtesy of Centennial College students at www.insidetoronto.com/includes/to/webcastform.htm