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CBC News : Mississauga election underway amid affordability crisis - ACORN Canada

CBC News : Mississauga election underway amid affordability crisis

Posted April 26, 2024

Nominations to become the next mayor of Mississauga close April 26, and whoever takes on the job will be doing so during a period that many candidates, experts and residents are referring to as an affordability crisis.

The city’s largest food bank has broken records month after month, with eight per cent of residents relying on food bank services. Many more are struggling with rising housing and other costs, with the average one-bedroom unit now renting for $2,283 a month according to

Meghan Nicholls, CEO of Food Banks Mississauga, says some are hoping a new mayor can help.

“People are looking for a lifeline in a lot of places,” said Nicholls. “Affordability, affordable housing, cost of living, cost of food are at the very forefront of people’s minds right now in Mississauga.”

She says affordable housing should be their focus, but targeted programs that reduce social isolation by making recreation and other city services affordable to those who need it most also matter.

Mississauga renter April Johnston wants candidates to take affordable housing more seriously.

“If you don’t have a safe, healthy, happy home, then your health is going to go,” said Johnston, a member of the tenant advocacy group, Peel ACORN. “I literally am this close to homelessness.”

Johnston also wants cheaper transit for those who need it.

“This could be Mississauga’s chance to change things around for their most vulnerable people,” she said.
Candidates have until election day, June 10, to get their messaging out. Many have identified affordability as a top issue, but their plans differ.

Here’s what a few of the candidates told us:

Dipika Damerla

“The single most important thing I can do is to keep property taxes low and affordable,” said Dipika Damerla, adding she would keep any increases at or below inflation rates. She would also ensure low-income seniors have the option to defer property taxes.
Residents who install rain barrels, rain gardens and permeable pavers would get a residential storm water charge rebate under Damerla’s plan.

She says she would work to get Mississauga a “new deal” like Toronto got from the province, using the money to fund transit, saving taxpayers.

Damerla says she would fully waive development charges on purpose-built rentals to spur new projects. She believes there is a role for government in building housing, but says Mississauga doesn’t have the money and it needs other levels of government to step up.

Stephen Dasko

Stephen Dasko says more needs to be done to improve affordability for seniors. He would make windrow clearing for all seniors free. (Clearing these piles of snow created by plows that block driveways is a charged service for most households.)
He would also reduce costs for seniors’ recreation programs.

Dasko would look for cost efficiencies to keep property taxes below inflation, but criticized a promise to freeze them made by a competitor. “I think that’s completely irresponsible. It’s not well thought out. It might be an election promise. But at what cost?”

He says he would work to get a new deal with the province to build infrastructure and amenities that allow for more housing.

Carolyn Parrish

“Housing is everyone’s most expensive budget item,” said Carolyn Parrish, adding affordable housing is her big focus.
Parrish would use Strong Mayor Powers to rezone a lot of the land currently zoned for office space to build housing.

She says she would “wholeheartedly endorse” asking developers to make more of their units affordable. She would lobby the provincial government to allow municipalities to charge more fees of developers to subsidize affordable housing.

Parrish would also reduce recreation fees for seniors, and would partner with the private sector to build more youth hubs.

Alvin Tedjo

“The cost of living in our city is through the roof,” said Alvin Tedjo, adding he will do everything he can to help.

He says he would freeze property taxes for all residents for two years, using the city’s reserve fund. Small business property taxes would be reduced by 15 per cent in the city permanently.

Tedjo would make drop-in swimming or skating free for kids 12 and under.

He says the city needs all kinds of housing, including affordable, supportive and shelter housing, multiplexes and single family homes. He says he would get the needed affordable housing units built through partnerships with other levels of government.

Brian Crombie in, Peter McCallion out

The day before nominations were set to close, Peter McCallion, son of former mayor Hazel McCallion, announced he was withdrawing from the race.

Meanwhile, Brian Crombie, the ex-husband of former mayor Bonnie Crombie, entered the race on April 24. There were 21 registered candidates by the end of the day on April 25.
In a video post belonging to Crombie on X, formerly Twitter, the candidate said he was entering because he believes Mississauga is facing “several crises” and believes the city is currently “on the wrong path” to address them.

He says housing unaffordability for young people is an issue. Crime and transit improvements are also priorities for the candidate.

Demand specifics, says political scientist

University of Toronto Mississauga political scientist Alison Smith says voters need to question candidates about what they mean by “affordable housing,” noting that what politicians say is affordable may not be for all residents.

Some “affordability policies” may not target those hardest hit, she said. “Property tax is something that somebody living in a rental unit is really not going to have a lot of benefit from.”
She also suggests voters consider how candidates will work with other levels of government to tackle the issue.

“You need somebody who can negotiate, who can talk to different governments but also different sectors within the community,” she said.

Article by Clara Pasieka for CBC News