Olivia Chow kicked off this week's Metro Morning interview series of mayoralty candidates Monday, saying Toronto "needs a new mayor" while vowing to go back to an above-ground transit line in Scarborough.
Every day this week at 7:40 a.m., Metro Morning will interview a different mayoralty candidate (see schedule below). Those in the Toronto listening area can hear the interviews on 99.1 FM. You can also watch live video of each interview at cbc.ca/Toronto.
In her interview with host Matt Galloway, the former NDP MP said council's decision to opt for a subway line into Scarborough, instead of light rail, was the wrong decision.
"Scarborough residents deserve something four years faster, four more stops and a billion dollars less," said Chow. "Had [the Scarborough light rail line] not been cancelled, the Scarborough residents by next year ... would have a new, improved better service."
Chow said by opting for cheaper light rail in Scarborough, the city could direct the money elsewhere. The light rail option was entirely funded with money from the province while going with subway along the route will require a 1.6 per cent property tax increase to pay for a 30-year loan.
"By [scrapping the subway extension], we are saving $1 billion," she said. "That is a whole lot of money. That would give us the fiscal room to build that relief line, to build better bus services … to fix the housing that is falling apart at TCHC."
Galloway pressed Chow on this, asking her if revisiting the Scarborough transit issue would only push back a decision that has already been repeatedly delayed by political infighting.
"There's a right decision and a wrong decision," said Chow. "By [council making] a wrong decision, the residents in Scarborough will have to wait eight more years before they actually see improvements to their transit service.
"We need to take politics out of transit planning. Experts said very clearly that building an above-ground rail service is better. We can get shovels in the ground next year."
Galloway also asked Chow, a former Toronto city councillor, how the city can make available more affordable housing. He spoke about a fire last week that killed two people in Kensington Market in a building officials have described as a rooming house.
"We know that 168,000 people are waiting for affordable housing," said Chow. "It's desperate. I've been pushing the federal government to build more affordable housing. We need to root out all the illegal rooming houses and get better inspections. We can work with different levels of government."
Chow also repeated her promise to hold property tax increases in line with inflation.
"I grew up in a struggling immigrant family," she said. "I know the value of every nickel. We won't spend money that we don't have. I will hold property tax in line with inflation."
Metro Morning will continue to interview candidates in the race this week, the schedule is:
- Tuesday David Soknacki.
- Wednesday: John Tory.
- Thursday: Karen Stintz.
- Friday: Rob Ford.