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‘I think I’ve done what I said I would do’: John Tory defends his record as Toronto’s mayor


John Tory defended his record as Toronto’s mayor on Thursday, saying he has followed through on key commitments while admitting that not all areas of the city have flourished equally under his leadership.
«I think I’ve done what I said I would do,» Tory said in an interview with Metro Morning, adding that he feels he’s brought stability back to the city hall following the tumultuous years of Rob Ford’s administration.
Tory also touted his «collaborative approach» to politics, arguing that improved relationships with provincial and federal counterparts have helped secure new funding for transit and housing projects.
He conceded, however, that despite considerable new investments, some neighbourhoods continue to struggle with a lack of public services and opportunity for residents.
«I’m not sure that the benefits of that improvement have been shared equally,» he told host Matt Galloway. «The single greatest thing we can do … is take opportunity out to those parts of the city.»
Tory holds a strong lead in the race for mayor, according to polling data, but his main rival, the city’s former chief planner Jennifer Keesmaat, is running on a platform highlighting several key areas where she differs from the current mayor, including tearing down the eastern section of the Gardiner Expressway and shrinking Yonge Street in Willowdale.
Keesmaat has spent the campaign attacking Tory’s leadership as «timid,» frequently arguing that he has tip-toed around taking decisive action on a number of challenges facing Toronto. She has also criticized a key pillar of Tory’s campaign: a promise to keep property tax increases at or below inflation.
Keesmaat argues that it is impossible to generate the necessary revenues needed to repair Toronto’s crumbling physical infrastructure without raising taxes on the wealthiest residents of the city. Her position is informed partly by city staff’s revelation that up to $22 billion in capital projects currently on the agenda remain unfunded.
Tory, however, rejected any notion that the city is headed toward a so-called fiscal iceberg.
«There’s been these stories written for years and years and years about how the City of Toronto is always at some fiscal calamity that was going to lead to dire consequences,» he said. «Of course I have to worry about the city’s finances, it’s one of the biggest jobs I have.»
But he pointed to sequential budget surpluses and a solid credit rating as evidence that he has acted as a financial steward for the city.
When asked about potential policy solutions to address the alarming number of pedestrians struck by drivers in Toronto each year, Tory re-iterated his support for examining needs of different neighbourhoods «one by one.»
«I’ve said all along that I just don’t think a blanket solution is necessarily the best answer across the city,» he explained, referring to a suggestion from Toronto Public Health and advocacy groups to reduce the speed limit on all residential streets to 30 km/h.
He added that more recently, the city has introduced an increasing number of community and senior safety zones with reduced speed limits and also altered cross-walk signal timing to make crossing the street more safe.

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