Toronto mayoral candidate Anthony Furey says Toronto is facing serious issues of “urban decay.”
“People see what's happening in Seattle, San Francisco, downtown Vancouver. And they're saying we don't want this city to go any more in that direction. We have to act now,” Furey, a former newspaper columnist and talk radio host, told The Epoch Times on May 29.
"I'm surging in the polls, and I'm jumping over other candidates in the rankings because I'm doing the hard work of getting out there meeting with people, and my message is resonating. People want real change," said Furey, who is a contributor to The Epoch Times.
Furey says the current group of Toronto city counsellors are focused on “pet projects” while neglecting the basics such as policing, fixing potholes, and improving transit.
“Young people don't like taking public transit anymore. Seniors just don't like going downtown anymore. People are really troubled by what they see on public transit and on our streets,” said Furey, referring to rising crime and a recent spate of violent random attacks on Toronto's transit system.
Furey said if elected he would immediately hire 500 new police officers “to increase the visible presence on our streets, in our communities, and on public transit," noting the additional hires would bring the police force back to the size it was around a decade ago.
He is also in favour of arming Toronto Transit special constables with tasers.
On the public safety front, he plans to bring in the Alberta model of focusing on treatment for drug addiction rather than the 'harm-reduction' models favoured by cities like Vancouver and San Francisco. Furey indicated he will reject plans for new injection and 'safe supply' drug sites and instead create treatment centres.
“A compassionate society doesn't keep people on drugs, it helps get them off of drugs,” Furey added.
As part of his plan to deal with a housing shortage and affordability crisis in the Toronto housing market, Furey has plans to eliminate the municipal land transfer tax for first-time home buyers, which he says could take $20,000 off the price of the average house.
Over time, he would like to phase the tax out altogether. “That is a challenge because it's a large part of revenue,” he said.
"Much of the cost of a home is related to government approval, and I will be laser-focused on reducing that."
Toronto's municipal election is set for June 26 and advance polls open from June 8 to 13.