MONTREAL -- Green space and access to recreation was a central issue for residents at Saturday's municipal election debate, where candidates from four parties went head-to-head to gain supporters within the neighbourhood.

The subject of the debate was Chinatown. Specifically, how the parties aim to address anti-Asian racism and new property development that could threaten the neighbourhood’s historic character.

About 60 people attended the debate inside the Chinese Community and Cultural Centre of Montreal.

For those who couldn't attend, a livestreamed version of the debate is available on the organizer's social media page.

Candidates from four parties attended: Balarama Holness of Mouvement Montréal, Robert Beaudry of Projet Montréal, Aref Salem of Ensemble Montreal, and Robert Souvigny of Action Montréal.

Holness, for his part, was the only mayoral candidate to attend the debate.

Each candidate offered their own takes on how to improve access to green space for those living in and around Chinatown.

“We need to address territorial disparities,” said Holness. “What that means is there are fewer green spaces in low-income areas.

“We want to make sure that access to leisure, sports, recreation, and green spaces are put in place,” he said.

Some candidates suggested more creative options to increase green space. 

“Maybe closing the Ville-Marie expressway where it is and putting a park on top of it,” said Sevigny.

“We know that we cannot develop the city without having green roofs anymore,” said Salem, who pointed to urban agriculture company Lufa Farms, which has built rooftop farms in Ville Saint-Laurent, as a blueprint to what could be implemented elsewhere in Montreal.

“Every single project that’s going to pass through the city is going to have a climate risk test,” said Baudry.

On the subject of zoning laws and infrustructure, Holness pledged to repair all community buildings and sidewalks that need it. He also vowed to consult all Chinese working groups and community organizations on "anything built here."

"That will be crucial in maintaining the cultural integrity of Chinatown."

Action Montreal's candidate committed to reducing commercial taxes within the next four years, though they could not say by how much.