Transit, the environment, mental health and the housing crisis were among the talking points Thursday as candidates from the Windsor-Tecumseh and Windsor West ridings squared off in back-to-back debates.
Hosted by the Windsor Law Centre for Cities, the online debate focused on priorities for Windsor and Tecumseh, along with provincial issues that have a municipal impact. CTV Windsor’s Rich Garton moderated.
Each debate included four questions drafted by the Centre for Cities team, followed by a question and answer round from the audience.
The Windsor West forum included Liberal Linda McCurdy, Green Party candidate Krysta Glovasky-Risdale and incumbent Lisa Gretzky with the NDP. Progressive Conservative Party candidate John Leontowicz was invited but did not respond.
The Windsor-Tecumseh debate was up first, with Gemma Grey-Hall from the NDP, the PC Party’s Andrew Dowie and Green Party member Melissa Coulbeck. Liberal Gary Kaschak was scheduled to join but cancelled for unspecified personal reasons.
The first question was about what each party would to do to end the housing crisis.
Grey-Hall said an NDP government would provide first-time homebuyers 10 per cent of the purchase price required for a down payment.
The NDP would increase the non-speculation tax to 20 per cent to stop foreign investors from buying up houses, and end exclusionary zoning. This would allow homeowners to do things such as converting a single-family home into a duplex or triplex, she said.
Coulbeck similarly stated the Green Party would change zoning laws to increase triplexes and fourplexes, and offer more opportunities to split existing homes into condos as a way to “stop sprawl and end paving.”
“We don’t want to build more highways,” said Coulbeck. “We want to build more densely.”
Dowie pointed to recent rule changes that allowed accessory dwelling units as a way of helping ease the housing crisis and allowing people to monetize part of their property.
Questions asked during both debates revolved around how the candidates envision the provincial government helping municipalities to improve and expand transit.
During the Windsor West debate, Gretzky said the NDP would return to the model of uploading 50 per cent of the costs to the province, while partnering with cities on investments to build more routes and help maintain buses.
“What we are seeing is a system that isn’t always reliable for people that want to access it or need to access it,” she said.
McCurdy said the Liberals have pledged to reduce transit fares to $1, and help get more people off the roads.
She said the Liberals would also maintain all existing transit funding plans currently in place, and work with cities to make sure other required funding is there to make improvements and get more people riding the bus.
Glovasky-Risdale said the Green Party would also restore the 50 per cent provincial cost share system. She added that her party would lower current fares, and triple the number of dedicate bus lanes by 2025.
“The goal would be you can get most anywhere you need to go within 15 minutes from your front door.”
The full debates, covering a wide range of other topics including ranked ballots, active transportation and the growing tide of racism, will be available on the Windsor Law Centre for Cities website and YouTube channel. Rose City Politics will also release them as a podcast.