Three high-profile candidates vying to be the city's next mayor took part in a debate in Regent Park tonight.

Olivia Chow, Ari Goldkind and John Tory answered questions at an event held at Daniels Spectrum, 585 Dundas St. E., at 7 p.m. 

Doug Ford, however, did not confirm his attendance. The moderator at the event said that "Doug sent his regrets yesterday." He was said to be attending the Toronto Maple Leafs home opener game at the Air Canada Centre. 

The event was moderated by Regent Park residents Abdur Rafi and Kate Sellar.

The first question was about the lack of affordable housing — and long waitlists for subsidized housing — in downtown Toronto. 

Goldkind was the first to speak, saying that developers needed incentives like tax credits to create more affordable units.

"You must incentivize developers and landlords to understand that there's a win here for them," he said. 

Chow promised to build 15,000 affordable housing units, adding that she will "ask developers building big towers to put 20 per cent of these unit" as affordable units. 

Tory said that he bets many people didn't think a developer would want to come into Regent Park and create what Daniels did, but the fact it happened makes him "optimistic" more developers will choose to do the same.

He added that he would lobby the Ontario government and federal government to match funds for the repair backlog in Toronto Community Housing. 

Gun violence and sexual assault

When asked what she would do to curb the instances of gun violence and sexual assault, Chow said "I don't think more policing is necessarily the solution. In fact, what we need to do is stop racial profiling and stop carding."

She went on to say that investing in the well-being of children would work towards decreasing crime. 

"What we need to do is start when a person is young creating more affordable high quality childcare," Chow said. "I pledge to create at least 3,000 more childcare spaces because then it would allow the mom and dad to go to work if they want to and then the kid would grow up strong."

Goldkind talked about the need for more street lighting and park benches for crime prevention before moving on to the issue of handguns. On that matter, Goldkind said that emails (sent from Chow) about banning handguns — which he said were already illegal — were not much help.

Goldkind called for every Toronto police officer to have to wear lapel cameras.

Tory said that there is not enough being done at the border to stop illegal handguns from entering Canada.

"They're just not making the effort," he said. "I'm convinced if they can operate thoroughly to stop you from bringing a bottle of wine... or something like that into the country, they can do better on guns." 

Food and poverty

On the matter of safe, sustainable and affordable food, Tory said that the best thing to do was to help people acquire a good paying "productive job." 

"I think it starts and ends and I believe this in my heart that putting people in a position where they're able to afford to buy healthy food...  and the best way you're going to do that is to give them a long-term, lasting, productive job and I think that's what people want anyway," he said. 

Goldkind countered and said that most Torontonians would likely be willing to give a little more in order for others "who have been left behind" to have food. 

"That's how you start building security, because security isn't just food insecurity," Goldkind said. "It's income security. It's having shelter."

Chow said that she would create more community gardens and work with agencies like FoodShare and Foodbasket

"It's a really wonderful model, whether you're growing vegetables or having fruit trees," she said. "All of that is so you can grow locally and the kids can see it, the families can come together, plant together, grow together, eat together, harvest together. It brings a community together and makes it strong and provides access to food."

The mayoral debate was the second to be held Wednesday, following one around noon at Dockside Drive, which was hosted by George Brown and the The Globe and Mail.