Finally, a newspaper piece in the GTA about Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion that actually makes sense and dares to tread where the rest of the media won't.
She has become the Harold Ballard of Ontario municipal politics. Instead of owning the Toronto Maple Leafs, she has Mississauga, a city where expectations are so low residents couldn't be happier with what she has done for them.
Of course, only a quarter of Mississaugans bothered to vote in the last civic elections, one of the lowest turnouts in any jurisdiction. Some might say that the reason for such a turnout is the excellence of McCallion's leadership. Others argue it is a result of a level of indifference so profound no one cares anymore.
And what exactly do Mississaugans have to show for her decades in power. Low taxes, supporters might say, and lower civic debt.
Let's hope that's enough, because beyond that they have little to feel good about. The fact is that they have bought into a city so unprepared and ill-equipped for the 21st century it could serve as a poster community of how not to build a city.
I've been saying for years that her legacy will be known sometime in the next few decades when all of the sprawling underground services start to come to the end of their life expectancy at the same time. Have fun paying for that, Mississauga.
The only thing that has prevented her expanse of suburbia from being in massive debt already is the fact that Toronto's airport falls into her jurisdiction. Instead of the City of Toronto (the reason that airport exists) receiving the hefty tax payments each year from the airport and surrounding industry, Mississuaga gets the money.
That, and the fact that the province has paid for and maintains all of the highways through Mississuaga that made the sprawl-lands possible. Contrast that to Hamilton, where we have had to build and maintain two of our four freeways with local tax dollars.
With any leadership at all, Mississuaga could have been developed as a great example of modern city building in Canada. Instead, it's just another in a long line of unimaginative, unplanned suburbs that has filled North America in recent decades.
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