Mississauga mayor discusses transit, economic and housing development in year-end interview

Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie says 2018 is going to be a productive year for the city in regards to development; ground will be broken on the 22-kilometre, 22-stop Hurontario light rail transit line and work will begin on creating a community on 250 acres of waterfront land.

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Crombie told Global News anchor Angie Seth that creating better transit is critical to the future development of the city of just over 780,000. The city needs to be better at getting people to where they need to go faster and easier — a tough task since Mississauga was a city designed for cars.

The mayor is planning for the long-term with the Mississauga Moves plan, a 25-year master plan when it comes to transit and transportation where investments are put into both on a yearly basis.

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In 2018, the city will break ground on the 22-kilometre, 22-stop Hurontario light rail transit line. The $1.4-billion project is being funded 100 per cent by the provincial government.

“We have the strongest business case of any of the Metrolinx projects because of the number of people that travel along that Hurontario corridor, and it will connect with two GO lines,” Crombie said.

“And it’s going to move people and it’s going to get people out of their cars, it’s going to give people options.”

December also marks the opening of the final stop on the “our bus transitway” — 18 kilometres of track that run parallel to Highway 403 that connects the Meadowvale Corporate Centre with the city’s Airport Corporate Centre.

“You can pick up a bus right at the final stop to take it to Kipling Station or to the airport. We’re very excited about that,” she said, adding the city is also “always” looking to improve the “My Way” transit bus routes, specifically on the high-volume traffic Dundas Street.

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It is Crombie’s hope that all the transit improvements will make getting around the city that much easier, which, in turn, will attract more development by way of housing and business.

Crombie said there have been over $1.5 billion of permits taken out for development reasons in 2017.

“Look at Lakeview for instance, 250 acres of waterfront that used to be a power plant, reclaimed land, we’re going to have a conservation area there as well. An innovation centre, a cultural zone and it will be mixed-use development.

“We’re having to change the zoning law so that we can allow business, commercial and industrial to survive alongside residential.”

Just west of Lakeview is the West Village, where another 72 acres of reclaimed land will be converted into another mixed-use community.

“It’s a very exciting time for Mississauga,” Crombie said.

But even with new development plans for new communities and transit, housing prices are becoming increasingly unattainable for many Mississauga residents, who have been forced to start looking outside of the city if they want to purchase a home.

“We’re very concerned about the price of real estate. It’s escalating here, as it is everywhere else across the country.”

The mayor said city council has come up with a new plan called “Making Room for the Middle.”

“Our target is that over a third, 35 per cent of all new housing be affordable, whether they be rental or that they be condominium or townhouse developments that are geared to the middle class.

“So these are our teachers, our nurses, our technicians and our service workers that are making in and around $80,000 to $100,000 that really have less than half a million to invest in housing.”

Crombie said council is coming up with a number of incentives to work with the development community and other levels of government to make sure that those units are being built for families in Mississauga.

“We are a business-friendly community, business-friendly environment. We provide a great place to live, work and raise your family, so we’re a natural place for businesses to locate.”

Crombie also noted the proximity of Toronto Pearson International Airport, the U.S. border is only an hour drive away, the city has a Triple-A credit rating, low business taxes, a diverse community and is one of the safest cities in Canada.

Overall, Crombie gives her team an “A+” score for everything that her city has been able to do over the past few years and for what is in development for the future.

“We know that there’s a buzz about our city. We see that there’s investment dollars coming in, whether it’s the 22 towers that are coming into the downtown core alone over the next five years, or it’s all the waterfront development that’s going on.

“Investment is coming in. We’re creating jobs. We’re attracting business. I think we’re doing pretty well here.”

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Crombie said that her plan for the upcoming 2018 election is just to “stay the course.”

“If you are happy with the changes you’ve seen, it’s going to be more of the same. There’s a lot of certainty here — a lot of stability.”

“We’re very, very proud of our city and what we’ve accomplished.”

— With files from Sasha Campbell, Ryan Rocca and Angie Seth

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