Toronto Mayoral Candidates Respond to ORHMA
Updated: Jun 12
ORHMA recently contacted all Toronto mayoral candidates for their commentary on various issues concerning the restaurant sector.
Mayoral candidate responses will be updated as these are received.
Partap Dua Singh: 1. I have the most unique plans for the City of Toronto as part of the Direct Democracy mandate. I would not only makeTTC absolutely free, but will provide adequate free /subsidized parking at TTC stations. This will ease a lot of congestion in Toronto and encourage people to ride the TTC. Of course it will be a $1 billion hit to our finances, but that can be easily managed as I will explain at the end of questions. If free TTC does not solve the problem head on, one solution to discourage congestion is to tag a prohibitive entry fee into core downtown between Queen St. and Front St., and provide coupons to restaurants for their guests who use Uber and taxis. I will also put a ban on converting parking lot zoning to residential or commercial zoning so that ample parking lots stay available. And the city will acquire existing lots if needed.
2. See answer 1.
3. I would clamp most construction projects, restrict all major construction and road repairs between 1:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m., as we used to do till the eary 1980s and 1990s. Also, I would confine City of Toronto construction to 'super fast' construction using Chinese/Japanese companies that prepare stuff off-site and assemble buildings in three to seven days. I would also ensure that TTC projects are carried out in parts and no TTC project is more than three months. I would opt out of the Smart Track project which would take seven to eight years to complete (our lives will be over by then). [I would] get the City out of Metrolinx as long as we have our own money to fund projects. Many bigger transit projects in major cities spanning 100 to 200 kilometres have recently been completed within six to nine months. In Canada, we tend to give multi-billion projects to a few select, unknown, and behind-the-scene families. This is moral corruption and has to stop. 10 to 20 lm rail transit can finish in 60 to 90 days well under $100 million in Toronto? Moneyed and greedy politicians have to be shown the door. Only the selfless should lead the City, subject to strict quarterly evaluation by constituents. Or they should be shown the door, including the mayor and councillors.
4. The City does not and should not need CafeTO fees because the restaurant and hospitality industry is vital to tourism and Toronto. No fees at all. Hence, increases are irrelevant.
5. I have a proposal to reduce residential and property tax as part of the Direct Democracy approach. The landlords will be required to pass that on directly to tenants in the form of reduced rent mandated by the city.
6. I will try to reduce the MAT as it discourages modest and middle class guests from dining in restaurants and staying at hotels. The City does not need a MAT as I will explain below.
My Financial Plan:
The City administration is totally mismanaged and there are total inefficiencies and systemic problems in the system. The City's budget has just kept going up and up because of people like John Tory and David Miller. Just in the last few years, the budget has doubled and the politicians always keep asking for more to address TTC, Police and so on. They kept telling people they will get $1 billion in aid from the Federal Government or $800 million from the Provincial Government as an ongoing band-aid solution. They never talk about where the money is being dumped. Toronto does not need more than $10 billion in its present form. They tagged an extra few billions because of Covid and some extravagant expenses because they started collecting more and more in the form of development charges, Land Transfer Tax, 5 per cent Parkland levy on new construction and so on. The LTT alone went up from a meter ($400 million to $1 billion in a few years) and the City has no incentive to lower home prices because they are used to as home prices went up. There has been absolutely no improvement in the City in the last 20 years. In fact, it is worse now. The rot has to be removed from the administration first.
We do not have to beg the provincial or federal governments. We should use our voting might (we send 40 MPs to parliament). Toronto contributes 15 per cent ($330 billion) to Canada's annual $2.2 trillion GDP, approximately $76 to $80 billion to Canada's annual budget, and approximately $440 billion to Ontario's budget. We MUST demand Special City status in the form of National Economic Capital (NEC) status for the City of Toronto from the Federal Government because Toronto not only runs Canada, it looks after 300,000 to 400,000 outsiders who work in Toronto and do not pay any taxes. Almost 70 to 80 per cent of newcomers and refugees land in Toronto and we are proud to take care of them. In fact, there is no Canada without Toronto. We must be treated with respect. I will once and for all demand at least 30 per cent of what we contribute to the Provincial and Federal Governments back with NEC status. That will give us around $37 billion back to operate Toronto decently and respectfully. This will help us to reduce our property taxes by 50 to 60 per cent, and various other tariffs and fees, thereby controlling rents, stabilizing home prices and inflation. We shall have more than sufficient money for infrastructure projects, TTC, safety, subsidies and so on. Of course the Federal and Provincial governments will put their foot down, but I as a Mayor of the Direct Democracy Party would like to lead the demand by rallying personally at Queen's Park and Parliament Hill, so as to put them to shame. The Federal Government collects around $50 billion GST because of higher property prices, higher commercial rents, higher real estate fees, and higher inflation prices on every item. They also collect almost $198 billion EXTAR over and above the $232 billion legislated budget allowed under constitution, in the form of voted budget to distribute free to foreign nations to bring in future voters and everywhere and they have committed to increasing the defence spending to 2 per cent of GDP to please the US (which is $44 billion).
The Government pays around $50 billion in annual interest on our Federal debt and so does the Ontario Government. Right here $92 billion wasted to please NATO's hunger for wars and Trudeau's hunger for ego. We have a lot of visible waste to put them to shame. They will give in within a few months I guarantee. If they don't, Toronto voters can show Ford and Trudeau the door. If the Federal Government alone can waste $92 billion, why can't they return back $25 billion to Toronto? We are not asking much. Same applies to Ontario Government. Just remember if the Mayor of Toronto personally leads the movement by walking in front of people, the Federal Government will be put to shame because we messed a lot up all these years while they showered favors on their buddies.
Finally, there is no worry about our present finances. For now, the $1.5 billion has been addressed temporarily from our capital reserves and other sources. In any case, this was Covid driven waste and not a permanent budget hit. We take this hit just for 2023 to 2024 and then we streamline the budget by removing waste and addressing systemic problems. I can easily save around $250 million per year that is being wasted on renting hotels for the homeless with $1500 top up rent for each person. I can save at least another $250 million from the $600 a day the City spends on each existing shelter bed. Scrapping the Gardiner project for now saves almost $800 million and many more millions/billions in immediate first year savings. But that is altogether another discussion. As I stated, our present needs are not $14 to 15 billion, but far less than that amount once we end moral corruption which has crept in by rising home prices and induced/planned inflation. As I stated, the more the prices the more the City makes, the more the Province makes and more the Federal Government makes. I have a novel plan to address inflation head on within Toronto.
Remember our Direct Democracy.com nonprofit organization is a pioneer in self-funded housing and health initiatives. We want to illuminate Canada starting with Toronto.
Question 1: My plans to reduce traffic is to launch an investigation to find out the causes to the traffic jams. It is time that pressure is put on the City to help bring awareness that the more traffic jams there are, the more gas emissions there are. To increase traffic to help attract more people into local businesses to encourage the TTC and other methods of transportations. Question 2: Becoming mayor, one of my main goals is to sit with the city to discuss the importance of many streets that Toronto is facing, such as King St. I am in favor of a change for the main purpose to save businesses and reach their full potential. This may include creating other routes for travelers so that the traffic is not so badly back to back as people are getting from point A to point B. Question 3: I am in favor of the city having to pay out when they make decisions that effect local businesses, especially when they have been lied to or have been fooled. Businesses should be compensated when the city does some sort of construction or improving the area and it is the local businesses that suffer. Question 4: I am in great support of CafeTO and supporting local businesses having their street padio. However, I do disagree with the costs that the city is charging and completely ashamed of the increase that businesses have to pay out when local businesses are often doing the city and this government a favour by increasing its sales so that they have to pay taxes. Question 5: Everyone should be given the advantage when decisions like that are made and no one should be left behind. In many cases I have found that the landlords, constructions and so forth have a win-win situation, but often the tenants are the ones that suffer and this is not right at all. I am in favor of having more support for tenants and breaks compared to the landlord and developers that often never loose. Question 6: One of my main goals when I become mayor is to try to create and establish ideas, methods and other means so that the tourism industry is increased by creating certain hotspots for Toronto. Therefore, I am going to support any groups or agencies that help improve the tourism industry and getting the word out internationally and within Canada so that people will want to visit Toronto and there is plenty of revenue going into the City of Toronto.
Here is my idea to help restaurants recover and thrive again. Elevated bike lanes will be established along select high-traffic restaurant zones, chosen based on restaurant density, cultural significance, historic foot traffic data, and potential for bike lane integration.
Through comprehensive analysis, the following cultural and restaurant-rich areas have been selected for the initial phase of implementation:
Chinatown – An area celebrated for its rich cultural history and diverse food offerings.
Kensington Market – Known for its vibrant food scene and active pedestrian culture.
King West – A locale renowned for its bustling restaurants and nightlife.
Queen West – Recognized globally for its trendsetting food scene and arts culture.
The Distillery District – A historic location, now a gastronomic hub.
The Danforth – Toronto’s Greek food capital with high pedestrian activity.
Sustainable Transit and Unique Dining Experiences
The program leverages the elevated bike lanes for two primary purposes: enhancing sustainable transportation options and providing a novel outdoor dining experience. The bike lanes will promote increased bike and foot traffic, aligning with Toronto's commitment to fostering a sustainable city life and reducing its carbon footprint. Additionally, during specific hours, restaurants will be allowed to transform partitioned sections of these elevated lanes into unique outdoor dining spaces, offering guests a distinct and exciting dining experience. Learn more at www.jamieatkinson.ca
1. Traffic Congestion The Municipal Socialist Alliance (MSA) believes that the answer to traffic congestion is free mass public transit. Dedicated lanes for street cars and buses, plus more rapid transit, are crucial. Safe spaces for cyclists and pedestrian traffic should be a priority. The funding for mass transit (as well as for new public housing construction) should come from heavy taxation of big property owners, not from small business and small homeowners, and by cutting the police budget. 2. King Street The MSA calls for a broad consultation of residents and small business operators in the affected area. Policy should come from the bottom up. 3. Major Street Construction Projects Again, grass roots consultation is a priority. Small businesses impacted by city construction should be fully reimbursed for financial losses. 4. CafeTO We support CafeTo, and demand that the fee increases be cancelled. 5. Property Tax We are in favour of closing the gaps to ensure that small business owners and tenants are supported. Again, the MSA would shift the burden of the municipal property tax from small entities to giant landlords, big banks and huge chain enterprises. 6. Municipal Accommodations Tax (MAT) The municipal accommodations tax should be invested in support of the tourism economy. How does the City spend its portion of the MAT? A socialist mayor would open the books to public scrutiny to reveal an answer to that question, and others.
I am one of the mayor candidates. I am a real candidate. I am NOT a career politician. I am also trying to win in this election. I am NOT running only to lose. I am running to win. My first point is property tax. I will reduce property tax by 10 per cent. I will also reduce TTC fare to $3.00 for all adults. I will also reduce the water bill by five per cent. My other point is I am "business friendly". After working in the industry for 18 years and being a small business owner myself, I am very much "business friendly".
Just yesterday, I was campaigning in North York area and I was driving through Finch Ave. It took me two hours to cross six km on Finch Ave. [In] those two hours, I have been thinking what harm a bad politician can do to a city. It was not just traffic jam - every single restaurant and business were out of business along that whole road. I know couple of candidates are talking about these a lot, but those same people were in power in decision making positions. If you want to keep it same as it is, you can vote for any of those six candidates that the media is crazily trying to get elected. If you are a regular person, just drive on Finch Ave. or Eglinton Ave. or any of the downtown roads, and I am sure you will not trust any of the former city councillors or former MPs who are running in this mayor election now. You will also think "what harm a bad politician can do" to the city.
I am a "civil engineer", a PhD, and a certified Project Manager (PMP). If I will get elected, I can at least try to give to solve this. But if you will vote for the people that Bell/ Rogers/ Toronto Star owned media wants you to vote for or if you vote for any of the people who caused these problems in the past, you will go out of business and very soon need Food banks, while they [remain] richest people in Canada.
1. I plan on making the TTC free. This will help get cars off the road and make the city move a lot faster.
2. I plan on opening up King St.
3. Construction projects are a temporary concern and not to be worried about.
4. CafeTO can continue as is as long as it doesn't negatively affect the budget.
5. I will implement by-laws that enforce strict regulations towards landlords and tenants. Particularly, I will put a cap on rental prices in accordance with inflation based on square footage of the rental unit. For example, landlords are raising the prices of rent up way too much. This by-law will only allow a landlord to rent their property in Toronto based on square footage rates dictated by the by-law. This translates into a solution for these insane rental prices [that are] mostly as a result of landlords from foreign countries who don't understand the value of a dollar.
6. I would have to take a look at the budget and assess the balance sheet.
1. I would like to implement a smart urban traffic control system powered by our new artificial intelligence technology to expedite the traffic. This will happen through controlling our traffic lights to alleviate congestion of any kind on our streets during rush hours and normal hours.
2. The idea of blocking the street during rush hour for TTC streetcars seems to be working well. We need to improve on it through detailed traffic studies. We can implement other smart ideas to expedite the traffic situation on King St.
3. Construction projects are few of the unavoidable situations in the downtown Toronto area. We can reimburse the businesses which loss revenue and business during the timeline of construction by reducing the tax or giving grants.
4. If CafeTo is working well for the businesses. It should be continued and a tax should not be implemented.
5. The issue of tenants should be re-evaluated and tenants should be rewarded as well. The small business owners should be given priority as it is already hard for them to survive.
6. The distribution of MAT should be reconsidered as well. Not all should go to tourism. Other industries, such as hotels, motels and restaurants, should also be considered.
Mitchell 'Mickey' Toye: 1. Traffic Congestion
We need to fully fund and make a freely accessible TTC system. [We need to] expand our agreements with co-op taxis, [get rid of] Uber by expanding fare-cab rides for average citizens while expanding the streetcar and developing elevated bike lanes, as exemplified with Candidate Jamie Atkinson's B-Line proposal. Creating a Car-Rail MagLift to quickly avoid congestion for those passing through. We need to also incentivize a reduction in personal automobiles, both through incentives and information on their true impacts (14,000 die in personal automobile crashes a day). We removed and de-funded public infrastructure, such as streetcar lines on Kingston, due to lobbying from Ford Motors and others. B. We need better, public, downtown core housing. Where will it come from? The now defunct office buildings the pandemic (now an all-around us endemic due to our failure to contain it) has shown us we don't need due to remote work. The Back-to-Work initiative is due more to lost real-estate investments than actual necessity or efficiency. We would be able to blossom Toronto's core into a living, walkable, bustling center of community, art, and food. C. Removing and rezoning specific lanes for commercial, cab, and pedestrian vehicles, and incentivizing carpooling with good incentivizes in workplaces and tax benefits. 2. King St.
A. Congestion is best eased with an actually developed public transport system and this has been known for decades. This program was too little, too fast, and without understanding its implications for other streets. A mocking, half-measure of civic development meant to sour the taste of an otherwise reasonable development. Walkable cities. Developed and supported transit. Common sense retrofitting and incentivization of car recycling and upgrading. B. We need to increase funding to re-open closed cultural touchstones, shifting the Theatre District to be as affordable for its employees as it is for their employers. We need working class affordability programs that gear pricing to cost of production and wages paid in production rather than for the maximization of profit. This will help with the closing that had more to do with the lockdown than with traffic congestion. The Cheonggyecheon Restoration Project saw a reduction of traffic and a boost in foot traffic in their area. It also showed economic improvement. C. We need more TTC-integrated public parking spaces that will be more accessible and will allow people to have better hubs for their cars. Reducing inner-core traffic and having more people living downtown in walking distance will ultimately make short work of these issues. 3. Major street construction projects
A. To prevent these disasters, we need a non-corrupt, properly regulated and incentivized construction program. A program designed and standardized with the most modern construction and zoning techniques to keep congestion minimal, work fast, and workers trained, happy, and prosperous. B. To aid restaurants that have closed or are on the edge, we need democratically run, non-profit/service based, community trust restaurants with a free meal program available every four hours to a returning customer (it could be as simple as lightly seasoned rice and beans). When it comes to restaurants that have closed, they could be reopened in a new location or their previous location if it is still vacant. C. Profit is the unpaid wages of the working class. We need restaurants to have a service-minded end, to that effect, using by-laws that would create mandatory rent-to-own agreements with real estate investment trusts and private landlords, we reduce the rent issues that continue to lead to unfair price hikes. With these policies and more we can not only boost previously pre-COVID/pre-Construction areas to beyond their former glory while removing the elements of exploitation that make it miserable to work in food service and hospitality. 4. CafeTO
A. Full public support and funding.
B. No-fee increases on independently-owned and community-owned businesses.
C. Expansion of an updated, in-perpetuity, safety and fair pay initiative in the hospitality and restaurant industry. This will continue to bring in new supporters, bolster old talent, and clear out the scum that use and abuse their employees. 5. Property Tax - 15 per cent decrease for small businesses
A. Rentiership and landlording have long been known (even around the time of Adam Smith) as a form of parasitic wealth accruement. No tax reduction, period. Record profits for commercial real estate firms that may be paying these taxes that small businesses rent from will obviously not 'trickle down'. In fact, I would increase the property taxes of all those that are using rentiership to gather revenue from property they are not the propiertors of themselves. B. Mentioned previously, I feel my six month rent-to-own city-sponsored mortgage agreements would quickly end the income lost of restaurants and other hospitality businesses without having a parasitic 'owner' of land stolen from Indigenous people. C. Finally, I would remove property taxes on independently-owned and community-owned businesses. 6. Municipal Accommodations Tax (MAT)
A. Stolen Indigenous land should not be toted to the world in an extractive and exploitative economy where the majority of workers are underpaid and overworked. I am 100 per cent against using MAT towards a 'tourist' economy. Tourism is an environmentally-devastating industry with massive ties to human trafficking and colonization. It needs to be reconceptualized and fit within a library economy, a resource-based economy, and an Indigenized democracy. B. Investigation into MAT spending. Where is that money going while people are starving? C. I would put the funding towards the several crises our city is facing. People NOT DYING is more of a priority to me than tourism. I do not apologize for saying that, even to ORHMA.
I am a building consultant dealing with the building department for the past 20 years. I have helped the families and businesses with drawings and building permits. As mayor, I would prioritize the following: Supporting, housing crisis, growth and development:
Appropriate staffing in key economic generating positions, such as building zoning examiners, engineers, and city planners.
Reintroduce the "Fast Track" building permit review and issuance service and introduce same day building permit issuance for interior alterations and additions under 50sq.m and within five days for up to four unit residential dwelling, and mixed use buildings.
A ten day permit issuance for commercial interior renovations.
Eliminate the need of an up-to-date survey for Committee of Adjustment applications unless required by Toronto Buildings.
Provide flexibility for private tree removals under and over 30cm in diameter, and replaced at a five to one ratio, without the need to post signage or appeals.
Before building inspectors sign off on projects, all building records will be updated to encompass any changes during construction and ensure an updated archive with the revisions from same architect and or engineers.
For expediency, permit architects and engineers to sign off and close permits.
Extend last alcohol call to 4 a.m. to support the night economy.
Manage city expenditures and maintain a fair tax-base.
Keeping the City moving:
All potholes, minor roads and bridges repairs to be done overnight to avoid road closure, congestion and grid lock during rush times.
Extend the parking grace period from ten minutes to 11 minutes.
Eliminate speed camera boxes.
A city initiated building program to tackle homelessness by providing city homes and with a program to partner with local organizations to teach new skills and reintegrate people into the workforce.
Utilizing city, railway, and pedestrian bridges for signage to generate revenue to be used for street improvements where funds can be used to help the homelessness program.
Extend the subway lines extensions east and west with more connections to move people around the City more efficiently and faster.
Reduce the lane widths on the Gardiner and DVP (in certain areas) and one side shoulder to create one extra lane to alleviate traffic time during rush periods.
Improve policing training and community liaison, with emphasis on crisis counselling and reducing violent interactions, to save lives and keep families together.
Increase the number of fire stations and hire more firefighters and paramedics as first responders.
Build a floating bridge to connect the City to the islands that links the waterfront parks system that is environmentally sustainable.
Better manage wildlife to ensure citizens can enjoy revalorized green spaces.
Start beach expansion along the Woodbine area, expand the Woodbine East boat dock and provide more City owned docking opportunities.
Encourage new community clubs, parks, activities, public pool, and restaurants along Lakeshore West, to encourage walking and waterfront enjoyment.
Build a "Toronto Eye" on the waterfront as a City attraction and destination.
Create more green space on roofs and through grants to encourage greening of industrial parking spaces to reduce run-off into the storm water sewers.
Propose submerged water turbine for the Toronto Island electric supply.
I am a small business owner and I love dining downtown and anywhere else for this matter in Toronto. I perfectly understand your concerns.
1. Traffic congestion has a great economic impact on any economy, so many people are wasting time. It's like letter mail during internet times. My platform at sergeformayor.com outlines this specific concern, for who we need to purchase latest and greatest traffic management system.
2. Totally agree on King St. We need setup a commission of business owners, traffic specialists and any other great minds to create a plan what is best for everyone.
3. For major construction developments, I would suggest we use the same minds and people as in #2 to figure out what are the best outcomes and how to correctly plan constructions so that everyone is happy. Possibility to release all landlords from burdens of property taxes during construction period for them to trickle down to renters is one way of helping, but not a major one.
4. I am against any fee increases. It will be incorrect to take money from businesses without delivering any value back to them.
5. This property tax rule needs to be studied to create a carrot approach with a win-win outcome.
6. MAT - My first three initiatives and main objective should be fully funded by MAT.
Make Toronto the most transparent, prosperous and freedom-oriented city in North America. Make Toronto a world center of new ideas and solutions on social and economic issues. Enable conditions for the smartest and brightest talents to come to Toronto to enable social and economic growth of the city. Enable favourable conditions to attract companies to establish offices and/or Headquarters in Toronto. Enable venues to have open debates on all issues: local, regional, provincial, federal and international. Create conditions for people from around the world to come to such debates.