To try and tell you what the five leading contenders said in opening and closing statements plus their answers to five set questions pertaining to development and building in the City of Toronto, I’d need pages and pages of this newspaper.

It’s easier to tell you what I took away from listening to the candidates at a BILD-sponsored debate earlier this week.

What I took away is that we as a community are very fortunate to have 100 construction cranes in the sky right now, as one of the candidates pointed out. Those cranes are very important for many reasons, not the least of which is that they each represent thousands of jobs.

Collectively, all the high-rise condos, low-rise construction and renovation activity currently taking place in the City adds up to a whopping $7.5 billion in construction, 72,000 jobs, $3.7 billion in wages and more than $2 billion in taxes paid to the various levels of government (OUCH).

While economic impact is important, so is the social impact of the 100 cranes, albeit less obvious. As the same candidate pointed out, Toronto gets very high ratings for livability by objective international standards. The vibrancy of the city comes from the very fact that people don’t just work in Toronto, they live and play there.

Unlike so many U.S. cities which empty out in the evenings and week-ends when workers retreat to the suburbs, Toronto is alive and growing. All the new residents help to ensure the viability of all the service businesses in the City including the restaurants, cleaners, clothiers and convenience stores.

In planning terms, they describe the hollowing out of a city’s core as the hole in the doughnut. Thanks to those 100 cranes, the GTA is like a jelly doughnut with Toronto as the filling.