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Published on October 8th, 2014 | by Julian Pecchia

[Interview] Mississauga Mayoral Candidates Discuss Transportation Issues

The municipal election this October is the first since 1978 where Mississauga residents will not have an incumbent candidate running for Mayor.  The question that Mississauga voters face is who will succeed Hazel McCallion and become Mississauga’s new mayor, as there are two established front-runners competing for the seat.

Steve Mahoney served on Mississauga council for nine years. He was later elected to represent the riding of Mississauga West as both a Liberal MPP (provincial) and MP (federal), before retiring from politics. His platform called the “Move Mississauga” plan is a 25-year plan which aims for a rapid transit focus towards connectivity – specifically to the city’s employment areas. It is also said the plan would be compatible with transit recommendations in Toronto. Read the full plan here.

Bonnie Crombie entered politics in 2008 as the Liberal MP (federal) for the Mississauga-Springdale riding. In 2011, she became a Mississauga city councilor in a local by-election. “Mississauga Moves” is her 20-year transit plan, with the centerpiece being an east-west rapid transit route along Derry Road from Pearson Airport to Winston Churchill Blvd. Read the full plan here.

CAA sat down to interview both candidates on a variety of issues. Here’s what they had to say on light rail transit, funding from province, and revenue tools:

Question 1: Do you support the current LRT project on Hurontario? How would you manage the relationship with Brampton should a new council decide to change the route and any impact that may have on the timeline for completion?

Bonnie Crombie

. . . I absolutely support the decision made by council. [to approve the LRT on Hurontario]

I’d like to see it from the lake at Port Credit and connect in with the GO Train north a full 28km into Brampton. As we know there has been some reconsideration of the decision to build the LRT through the old downtown of Brampton because it becomes a 2 way street. Of course we’ll support whatever decision they make. I anticipate that the new council will support building the light rail transit as far as it makes sense to them.

Steve Mahoney

. . .  yes I support it. [the LRT on Hurontario]

The challenge with the LRT is that if it goes on time, in terms of the construction, the first rider will be in 2022.

So it does not solve our gridlock problem or come even close to it in the immediate future. So my focus is going to be on east-west. I will support . . . [getting the LRT built]. But we need express bus service on Dundas, on Burnhamthorpe, to get people into the subway.

In relationship to Brampton council . . . we will work closely with them. It is kind of their decision what they want to do regarding the route and I’m not about to tell them they should go right up Main Street if they don’t want to.

Question 2: Ontario now has a majority government provincially which has pledged $29 billion to municipalities for transit infrastructure projects. How will you ensure Mississauga gets its fair share of this funding and what would be your top priority project?

Bonnie Crombie

I have already been advocating for Mississauga’s fair share. This has been a theme throughout my campaign and even while on council.

I’ve already had preliminary discussions with people in the Premier’s office to discuss Mississauga’s plans.

They know we’re ready and we have assurances that we’re in the next wave of funding whenever the new funding money is introduced.

. . . [I will] work closely with them, with the Minister which is Steven Del Duca now, and the Premier and the Premier’s office and policy advisors to ensure they remember that we’re high on the list.

Steve Mahoney

. . . every Member of Provincial Parliament from Mississauga happens to be part of the party that forms that majority government. So I’m hoping that I will work closely with them.

But I’m not going to sit back and just assume that’s going to happen. We’re going to go down, have meetings with the Premier, have meetings with the Minister of Finance, have meetings with the support of our elected officials provincially to ensure that you know, the close to 800,000 people who have a lot of political clout as well as financial clout get dealt with properly.

Question 3: If elected, what revenue tools, if any, would you support to help finance Mississauga’s transit projects?

Bonnie Crombie

We are 25 years behind building the transit and transportation structures we that need. That said there is the reluctance for people to pay additional revenue. I believe they [the province] have made a final announcement suggesting to us that there will be ample money through the new tools which I believe are a reallocation of money – gas monies and also a little bit of corporate tax.

I’m supportive of the ones that have been announced because I think they won’t impact middle class families in the cheque book too severely. We did pass a motion at council that we supported revenue tools as long as it wasn’t on the property tax.

. . . [the province] announced a package of tools, a basket of tools that will work to bring in the $29 billion. I’m very hopeful that will fund our light rail transit system without impacting middle class families. People are stretched.

Steve Mahoney

The new transit capital that we require cannot be on the back of the taxpayer.

I believe we can attract interest from our major world class pension funds. And when you add up WSIB, OMERS, teachers, HOOP the hospital, you’re talking between 4 and 5 hundred billion dollars of cash that currently is seeking investments in Chile and Argentina and places like that – how about investing in right here at home? We’re triple A, we can do a deal where we can determine the future high intensity growth – we’ll generate the development charges to pay the interest and the capital cost, but it’s got to be over 20 years.

We cannot fix a problem that has occurred over the last 40 years, we can’t fix it in 1 year or even one term of council. It’s going to take a commitment to a long range plan and new ways of finding the cash to do what we need to do.

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