Kensington market residents took their politics to the streets when a crowd of about 100 attended a Trinity-Spadina municipal candidates forum in the middle of Augusta on Sunday (August 27).
At the meeting, which was part of the Pedestrian Sundays program closing the Market's streets to vehicles, air quality dominated the debate. Front-runners Helen Kennedy and former journalist Adam Vaughan were joined by three other contenders, including City Idol winner Desmond Cole.
Ignoring the plume of barbecue smoke further down Augusta on this smog day, all five stressed the need for improved public transit, energy conservation, greener buildings, no Island Airport and more east-west bike lanes.
The smog in the air gave way to tension when the divisive $255 million Front Street Extension was raised.
Kennedy has broken with most of her NDP colleagues on council and with her former boss, Trinity-Spadina MP Olivia Chow, in opposing the project.
"The money should be put into bike lanes, into infrastructure, into supporting a healthier, greener community," she says.
But Vaughan wouldn't let Kennedy off that hook, taking her to task for not doing enough to bring about the demise of the project.
"Have we killed the Front Street Extension? The answer is no. Have we closed the Island Airport? No. Have we built public housing on the rail lands? No. What hasn't happened is leadership out of this ward to make these changes."
While voters clearly have serious issues on their minds, debate organizers first put superhero capes on the candidates and made them symbolically rein in development by tossing a hula hoop over a mock CN Tower.
Kennedy walked past the toss line to place her ring directly over it, while Vaughan's toss just made it, prompting MC Michael Johnson to observe, "It's a tight race."