“I think my track record as a city councillor speaks for itself,” Cimino said. “The relationships I've formed with Rainbow Routes, the Junction Creek Stewardship Committee … the parks I've put in place.
“The NDP does have a platform, and I encourage everyone to look at it. It talks about supporting transit, and active transportation. It talks about reducing carbon … and a $5,000 retrofit program for homeowners.
“(The environment) is very important to New Democrats. And my record locally speaks for itself.”
But Paula Peroni, a Catholic school board trustee running for the Progressive Conservatives, attacked city council’s record over the last four years, calling it “the most lacklustre council this city has ever had to suffer through.
“I can't think of a reasonable decision this council has made that has impacted this city in the last four years,” Peroni said. “I can't understand how you want to take a lacklustre performance at city council and move it to Toronto. I don't think you have that ability.”
“Paula, we've hit a new low,” Cimino shot back, citing the Elgin Street Greenway as an example of what council has done. “My record speaks for itself.”
The exchange took place during an all-candidates debate Tuesday at noon hosted and streamed live by Northern Life. The debate for Nickel Belt was streamed live Wednesday.
Peroni and Cimino were joined by Liberal candidate Andrew Olivier and Green candidate Casey Lalonde. The exchange began when Lalonde was asked why the environment isn’t a bigger issues among Ontario voters.
Lalonde said an issue as complex as the environment has trouble competing amid the partisan fights common in politics.
As Cimino and Peroni traded barbs, Lalonde quipped, “My point just proved itself.”
Peroni also criticized the policy of giving individual city councillors direct spending power over $50,000 a year to spend in their wards each of their four-year terms.
Previously, the Healthy Community Initiative funds, as they’re fomally know, were controlled by city staff.
“You are the only councillors in the Province of Ontario who have a $200,000 slush fund,” Peroni said. “Where's the transparency? We have councillors retiring and buying whiteboards for one school (in their ward).
“You are the only council in Ontario that still has a slush fund, and I think that's despicable.”
But Cimino shot back that the HCI funds have existed for years, and in their previous form, staff time was consumed processing numerous funding requests for small projects, mainly playground repairs.
“Now, anything under $100,000 is paid for through these funds,” he said.
He held found a Community Action Network in his ward, which works with him to set the priorities on where the money should be spent.
“My HCI fund (expenditures) – and you can go through them online – are all legitimate, and all were spent properly.”