We asked for your top election issues. Here's more of what voters told us

Toronto voters sound off on their concerns about traffic congestion, the police budget and the 'exodus' of artists from the city.

Toronto's municipal election is on Oct. 24, with advance voting open now

Sun sets on the Toronto skyline seen from the Gardiner Expressway on Wednesday, July 5, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press)

Toronto's municipal election is fast approaching. With a little less than three weeks to go before residents choose a mayor and new city council, particular issues are emerging as priorities for voters.

CBC Toronto asked you to tell us about the concerns that are top of mind heading into the Oct. 24 vote.

We have received nearly 200 entries so far, touching on a wide range of topics. Housing affordability and safer streets are still the top responses by a considerable margin. You can read more about what we've heard on those issues here.

But those aren't the only themes. Voters have also expressed frustration about traffic congestion, the amount of money being spent on policing, noise from vehicles and construction sites and the future of the arts in the city. Others have said they are skeptical about the strong mayor powers recently bestowed by the provincial government and what that could mean for local democracy.

Below is another sampling of responses to our survey. But first, remember that 31 candidates are vying for the mayor's chair and 164 candidates are running for a seat on council. The results of this election could have a profound impact on the city that Toronto becomes.

  • The city's full list of certified candidates for mayor, council and school board trustee can be found here. The link also includes contact information for any candidates who have voluntarily provided it.
  • Not sure if you're registered to vote in this election? This handy guide can help.
  • Advance voting is now open and runs until Oct. 14. Find out more about that here.

Traffic congestion

It's no secret that getting around Toronto — whether it's in a car, on a bike or on public transit — can be difficult. 

The polarizing divide between those who rely on vehicles and those who use other forms of transportation is evident in the responses to CBC Toronto's election callout. Many drivers relayed exasperation about commute times. Residents in Midtown, who have been at the mercy of more than 10 years of Eglinton Crosstown construction, seem particularly irritated.

"The Eglinton Crosstown construction and the devastating impact it has been causing since 2011 on traffic and the overall community of Cedarvale," answered one respondent about their main concern.

Others said they are fed up with how many construction projects are ongoing at any given time in a particular area. The city's map of road restrictions due to ongoing construction is a sea of red, orange and yellow. 

"Limit the ability of condo developers to block an entire lane of traffic for months or years at a time. Finish the Eglinton Crosstown already," wrote another Midtown resident.

"Solutions are needed ... to relieve traffic congestion. Local residents can't get around easily in their own neighbourhoods," said another.

Several respondents also suggested that CafeTO measures should be ended after the summer season to open more lanes to vehicle traffic on arterial roads.

Others, however, suggested that limiting the number of vehicles downtown would be the most effective way to ease congestion.

"Re-instate ActiveTO on a permanent basis, completely build out the city's cycling infrastructure, instate congestion charges for cars downtown, fund infrastructure development around population and employment centres," wrote on voter from the Don Valley East ward. 

"Reduce cars downtown by creating pedestrian-only areas, adding congestion fees, expanding the King streetcar priority zone, adding priority signals for transit at intersections, expanding sidewalks while reducing on-street parking," said one Roncesvalles resident.

The almost-inevitable traffic jams caused by this weekend's Blue Jays games may make this an even bigger issue for some.

Police budget

Some voters also questioned the size of the Toronto Police Service's budget. In January 2022, the Toronto Police Services Board unanimously approved $1.1 billion for the force, an increase of $24.8 million, or 2.3 per cent over the previous year. It is the single-largest line item on the city's books.

"I would like to know why they continue to increase the police budget when there is concrete evidence they are guilty of systematic discrimination to racialized communities," wrote a downtown voter. The comment is an apparent reference to the service's own data, published earlier this year, that found Black, Indigenous and other diverse groups are disproportionately affected by use of force and strip searches by officers.

"Put $200 million or more from the bloated TPS budget into social programs and housing," commented another resident from the east end.

"The city needs to recognize and call out that crime stems from underlying poverty and social challenges, and the police ... are not equipped to respond to or help solve those issues. The city needs to start pouring money into social programs in a much more co-ordinated and systemic way, and move money away from the police who can do their job with less than the $1.1-billion budget they have today," said one person from Scarborough.

Other respondents, however, called for an increase in police officers to help better enforce certain laws, particularly traffic violations.

"Demand increased enforcement from police. Not one week traffic "blitzes" — full time police out on the street every single day, ticketing aggressive and illegal driving," wrote a downtown voter.

The state of the arts

Several people said they were concerned about what they called an exodus of artists and musicians from the city due to the high costs of rental spaces.

"Invest in the arts before we completely lose all our artists. If the city council needs to know why that is important, just look at all the areas of the city that were once artists' havens until they were priced out ... We are losing our artists to places like Montreal, and our city is poorer for it," said a resident living in The Junction.

"The next mayor and city of council needs to create a new vision, a culture master plan, which is championed forward by citizens ... There also needs to be a re-evaluation of creative space (which there is a huge lack of; rehearsal and studio space) in the city, and unlock city-owned properties and invest more into affordable commercial spaces for arts and cultural groups. The city also needs to take seriously how much the arts contribute to the economy and take steps to reverse this exodus of cultural groups and artists," wrote another voter.

You can let us know what your top issues are by filling out the survey below:


Lucas Powers

Senior Writer

Lucas Powers is a Toronto-based reporter and writer. He's reported for CBC News from across Canada. Have a story to tell? Email any time.