Two city councillors sat beside each other, while other candidates criticized them at the Ward 14 (Toronto-Danforth) debate on Wednesday.
Paula Fletcher and Mary Fragedakis were natural targets as they were both incumbent councillors for the two areas that have been combined into one ward for this municipal election.
“They’ve been in power for way too long about the same issues without any material movement made on them,” said one of the critics, candidate Chris Budo, afterwards.
At the meeting Budo described council’s cycling plan under Fletcher and Fragedakis as “just painted white lines” and criticized the TTC board as being more political than knowledgeable.
Fragedakis replied to the latter charge: “We’ve actually built a subway system while I’ve been on the board of the TTC. It’s called the York University-Spadina extension.”
Though neither city councillor responded directly to comments about the cycling plan, they found common ground with Budo when discussing the importance of studies and evidence-based programs.
Urbanization, rental housing, parking, handguns, cycling, crime and mental health were topics at the Toronto-Danforth debate at the Centennial College Story Arts campus from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
eople in the community sent in their questions prior to the event which saw nine of 10 candidates and 80 people attend.
Candidates agreed on most topics and presented similar ideas, though there were some outliers.
Marisol D’Andrea felt the dismay of the audience when she proposed a bicycle licence after stating cyclists are able to dodge enforcement without any way of tracking them.
Warren Huska, a voter attending the debate, wasn’t impressed.
“The world over attempted to license cyclists and it’s a money and time waster,” he said. “I’ve got a GoPro and that’s my way of holding people accountable.”
Ryan Lindsay pitched his #ShiftTheFordTax plan to move funds away from a Scarborough subway and towards non-subway rapid transit projects claiming the city would have $50 million per year.
There was also one late attendee, Alexander Pena, who caused a scene after demanding a seat.
He says he wasn’t invited, though co-organizer Mary Vallis says they could not find any information online while trying to contact candidates.
“On Monday, I saw an Alexander Pena sign and took a good look to figure out how to contact him but it had no information,” she said.
Pena said his focus is to regulate rental units by when they were built.
“It’s not possible that for a building that was built in 1960, they’re going to charge $1,500 for rent.”
The audience applauded Lanrick Bennett’s ideas about building a local constituency office, building a full cycling network from east to west and being a term limit candidate.
He clarified he supports a three-term limit and hopes to “get in, do good things then get out.”
Fletcher said she aims to focus on transit hubs like Gerrard and Carlaw while organizing a group to assess “what the impact of transit will be” and the best way to develop on these hubs.
Anne Smith, a voter from Old East York didn’t hear enough about critical, area-specific issues.
“What do you think about vacant storefronts on Danforth? What do you think about vacant lots down on Carlaw? What do you think about highrise development on Broadview, on Pape, the downtown relief line,” she said.
She even asked her own question about mental health in the area.
But despite hearing from nine candidates, she says the election is straightforward.
“It’s incumbent versus incumbent.”