Toronto·Vote Compass

Toronto's biggest election issue: getting around this busy city

Nearly one in two Torontonians say transportation is their most important election issue, according to data from CBC Toronto's Vote Compass.

Housing rapidly growing as a key issue, especially among city's younger voters

The TTC's King Street pilot project has been one high-profile tweak to the city's transportation system. Vote Compass has found transportation is top of mind among Toronto voters ahead of the Oct. 22 election. (John Rieti/CBC)

Nearly one in two Torontonians say transportation is their most important election issue, according to data from CBC Toronto's Vote Compass.

Just under 50 per cent of 7,155 Torontonians using the voter engagement tool said how they get around — whether they drive, take public transit, walk or bike — matters most to them ahead of the Oct. 22 municipal election. Advance polls opened today.

Further, neither location nor age appears to change the results.

More than 50 per cent of Voters in East York and Etobicoke were most likely to say they were concerned about transportation, but more than 40 per cent of those living in the downtown core also said it's a key issue.

Meanwhile, millennials were just as likely to name transportation as their top issue as those over 55.

Vote Compass, which has now been used nearly 30,000 times, will continue running in the lead-up to the election to help you decide what city council candidate and mayoral front-runner best fits with your political views.

The top five issues identified by Vote Compass users are:

  • Transportation — 46 per cent.
  • Housing and planning — 26 per cent.
  • Toronto's economy — 8 per cent.
  • Policing and public safety — 7 per cent.
  • How government is run — 6 per cent.
  • Issues including, but not limited to, the environment, poverty, immigration and social services received made up the rest of the list.

Voters supporting mayoral candidate Jennifer Keesmaat were the most likely to identify transportation as their top issue, although John Tory voters weren't far behind.

The two candidates support similar transit expansion plans, however sharply differ on how they'd handle two high-profile roadway redesigns.

Tory supports a so-called "hybrid" rebuild of the eastern Gardiner Expressway, while Keesmaat backs replacing the crumbling elevated highway with a ground-level boulevard.

Keesmaat is also supporting Transform Yonge, which would shrink Yonge Street in Willowdale from six lanes of traffic to four, while adding bike lanes and wider sidewalks. Tory supports a more expensive alternative that would maintain all six lanes of traffic by moving the bike lanes to nearby streets.

Those supporting Saron Gebresellassi, who wants to see the TTC go completely fare-free for users, were also concerned about transportation, although housing was a bigger issue for them.

Housing a growing issue, especially for younger voters

Condo buildings keep popping up across the city, but that isn't easing housing concerns, especially among young voters. (John Rieti/CBC)

Toronto's real estate boom has been well-documented, as have rental woes and similar housing-related battles like the city's bid to put some restrictions on Airbnb-style short-term rentals.

Vote Compass's results reflect this. In 2014, less than 10 per cent of respondents reported housing was a top concern. This year, that number has shot up to close to 30 per cent.

Young voters are especially concerned about this issue, with nearly four-in-ten now saying it's top of mind this election season.

The data also shows women are more concerned about housing than men.

Tory voters were less likely to identify housing as an issue than Keesmaat voters. 

For more on the Vote Compass's methodology, read below: 

Developed by a team of social and statistical scientists from Vox Pop Labs, Vote Compass is a civic engagement application offered in Toronto exclusively by Radio-Canada/CBC. The findings are based on 7,155 respondents who participated in Vote Compass and answered the "Most important issue" open question from October 3, 2018 to October 10, 2018. Unlike online opinion polls, respondents to Vote Compass are not pre-selected. Similar to opinion polls, however, the data is a non-random sample from the population and has been weighted in order to approximate a representative sample. Vote Compass data has been weighted by gender, age, education and country of birth to ensure the sample's composition reflects that of the actual population of Toronto according to census data and other population estimates.