Revitalization

Lack of Planning Foresight Proves Costly

By Ben Bull
Published November 08, 2007

One word comes to mind as I read about Hamilton's infrastructure debts and Mississauga's projected 75 million dollar budget deficit: foresight.

Why is it, do you think, that towns like Mississuaga have been able to go debt free for so long? Could it be because most of their infrastructure is new and has not had to be overly maintained up to this point?

Well, now it looks as if McCallion and co. are going to have to do what every other, 'older' municipality has been doing for years - maintain their costly infrastructure and find a way to pay for it.

Typically, today's Toronto Star has lauded praise on the Mississuaga Mayor for railroading a new tax hike through council and pointing an astute finger at the Feds.

For sure, she's a lot slicker than Miller in this regard. But why do they not question her lack of foresight?

In the same way that successive Hamilton councils have approved low-density housing, car-dependent shopping plazas and massive road construction and then declared, 'Oh, help - how are we going to pay for this?' so Mississuaga has splurged all if its reserve fund on nonsensical city planning.

According to the Star's Royston James:

City manager Janice Baker told council the city spends $100 million a year on roads, bridges, sewers, parks and other infrastructure. But over the next 20 years, all capital reserves will be spent and the city will be $1.5 billion behind. Mississauga needs an additional $75 million a year to span the deficit. By 2012, it will have to start borrowing.

While I agree it's time for the Province and the Feds to start subsidizing our city spending, this is no excuse for abdicating responsibility for poor city planning. It's time we started pouring our dollars into sustainable spending such as transit and higher density housing.

Maybe then we can finally find a way to support ourselves.

Ben Bull lives in downtown Toronto. He's been working on a book of short stories for about 10 years now and hopes to be finished tomorrow. He also has a movie blog.

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By trey (registered) | Posted November 08, 2007 at 11:47:27

this is going to look so good on McCallion. For years she's had most people fooled into believing she built a great city. Too bad for her she probably won't be around to see her sprawling suburb deteriorate in front of her eyes. At least history will be able to correctly identify McCallion as one of the worst 'city' planners/mayors in Canada's history.

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 08, 2007 at 12:02:17

finally, now maybe all the people that have razzed me over the years whenever I share my 'predictions' for the future of that sprawled mess will finally get the point. Mississuaga had everything handed to it. Toronto's airport, Toronto's overflow growth, Toronto's jobs.
A monkey could have been mayor of that city and done a better job. They wasted a golden opportunity and now only a few decades later are crying poor. I agree that Hamilton's suburbs haven't been planned out either, but Hamilton and Toronto (and all older cities) truly do have a point to gripe about with the upper levels of government. Mississuaga simply squandered their chance and won't receive an ounce of sympathy from this corner.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted November 08, 2007 at 12:49:54

Hazel McCallion's Three Rules for Successful City Planning:

  1. No poor people.
  2. No old public infrastructure.
  3. Build out as fast as possible.

Works great for about 30 years.

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