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Campaign in high gear with 3 months until Toronto mayoral election

The Toronto municipal race is about to get even more prolific with election day three months away.

Torontonians head to the polls on Oct. 27, and the candidates for mayor are planning to keep up their frantic pace as they head towards the finish line.

According to the latest Forum Research poll, conducted on July 21, the top three mayoral candidates are in a dead heat for the city’s top job.

The poll showed Olivia Chow has 29 per cent of voter support, with John Tory at 28 per cent, and Mayor Rob Ford in third with 27 per cent.

Both Chow and Tory saw their numbers drop in support — 32.7 and 39.1, respectively — from a previous Forum poll conducted almost three weeks ago. However, support for Ford has gone up from 21.7 per cent.

With the countdown on, all of the top candidates have been hitting the pavement hard.

Chow said she’s averaging about 10 events a day on weekends, including taking in some of the city’s biggest festivals and events.

“It’s about connecting. It’s about listening and learning but also sharing ideas on how to make the city a better place to be,” Chow explained.

“The general strand through all these activities on weekends is people are happiest when they are connected with each other, but for that to happen we have to invest in communities.”

Tory said over the next three months, he will continue to meet Torontonians and speak with them about the issues facing the city, especially transit.

“I’m going to stay positive and talk about hope for the future that’s going to come from getting SmartTrack built [and] getting the city back on track when it comes to jobs,” Tory told CityNews.

“Making sure we really look out for the taxpayer’s money as opposed to kind of pretending to do it.”

He said he believes that when people focus on the question of which candidate is most likely to be able to deliver on transit and get things done in government, they will see he is the best option.

While at Toronto’s Festival of Beer, Karen Stintz told CityNews she’s been enjoying the busy campaign schedule.

“I find the more I get out, the more I meet people, the more excitement there is about the race and that’s motivating,” Stintz said.

“We’ve got debates coming up, I’ve got new policies I’m going to announce starting next week so the campaign is just beginning.”

Meanwhile, Ford attended a parkette renaming event in honour for former East York mayor Willis Blair.

With the clock ticking down to election day, Ford said his schedule is non-stop.

“You just don’t stop. We have a debate tomorrow night — can’t wait for that,” Ford said, adding that the “campaign really starts heating up in September and October.”

Ford said in his 14 years as both city councillor and as mayor he can’t count the number of doors he has knocked on and the amount of people he has tried to help.

“Even when I was a councillor I was getting calls from North York, Scarborough. I go out there, took care of my constituents first,” he explained. “Whatever they may need. It may be minor in the grand scheme of things but it’s major to them, it’s major to me.”

However, Ford’s campaign has hit a few rocky patches over the last few months as anti-Ford protesters have become more vocal.

At the mayor’s annual Ford Fest bash on Friday, he was greeted with pro- and anti-Ford sentiments, including LGBT activists protesting what they termed Ford’s homophobia.

However, some members of Ford Nation were displeased with the anti-Ford comments, and got in verbal confrontations with the protesters.

In an interview with a Toronto television station, Ford apologized for the confrontation between his supporters and LGBT activists.

“It’s terrible things like that happen … I apologize and we have to move on,” he said.

The top mayoral candidates will also be taking part in a debate at Presteign-Woodbine United Church, near St. Clair Avenue East and O’Connor Drive, in Parkview Hills, at 7:30 p.m. on Monday. Doors open at 6:45 p.m.