01/14/2014 11:53 EST | Updated 03/16/2014 05:59 EDT

David Soknacki backs light rail for Scarborough

Toronto mayoralty candidate David Soknacki says city council should go back to a seven-stop light-rail extension into Scarborough and scrap the subway extension council backed last fall.

In an a policy announcement that draws a clear line between his platform and the pro-subway stance of Mayor Rob Ford, Soknacki said light rail will serve Scarborough better, and won't result in a tax increase.

"The LRT is a better solution," he said Tuesday morning behind a podium that read "David vs. Gridlock."

He emphasized that light rail was the original plan for transit in Scarborough.

"I am not here to draw lines on the map, I'm here to respect those lines that have been drawn," he said. 

After months of debate, council voted in October to extend the Bloor-Danforth subway line past Kennedy station. The move threw out a provincially funded — and council approved — plan to build a seven-stop light rail line along the route. It's that plan Soknacki wants to see revived.

Ford — an adamant proponent of subways over surface rail — claimed victory with last fall's decision, which he said responds to the will of local residents. Others decried it as an example of politics over planning, as Scarborough is seen as a crucial source of Ford support.

A subway extension comes with a hefty $3.5-billion price tag (light rail was $1.8 billion). To make up the difference, the city will have to bring in a 1.6-per-cent property tax hike that will be phased in over three years.

Soknacki is a former Scarborough councillor, who spent the last seven years in the private sector running Ecom Canada, his food flavourings company. He served as budget chief during former mayor David Miller's first term in office.

Soknacki was joined at Tuesday's announcement by Coun. Gloria Lindsay Luby and Coun. Paul Ainslie.

Coun. Lindsay Luby said she was endorsing Soknacki as a candidate, touting him as a self-made businessman.

"Daddy did not give him a business to run," she said, in an apparent dig at the Fords' Deco Labels company. "He did it on his own and that's what we need at city hall."