Is Mississauga going lefty cyclist bleeding-heart pinko?
Last week, the city was swooning over Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi’s visit. Since his election, the jokes among lefties about moving from Ford’s Toronto to Nenshi’s Calgary have been pretty steady. But for those who aren’t ready to commit to colder winters and electing Conservative MPs, there might be hope: Mississauga may slowly be turning in to a big-government liberal city we can flee to. Or so reports the Globe and Mail.
While the talk in Toronto is of cutting bus routes and freezing property taxes, the city to the west is looking to increase public transit and build new bicycle lanes.
The contrast is something of a role-reversal for the GTA’s two largest municipalities. Mississauga was once alternately lauded and disparaged for what was seen as a simple, pragmatic approach to governance, avoiding tax increases but doing little to stitch its freeway-separated subdivisions into a greater civic whole.
Now that the city has almost exhausted the available land to expand on, the fees from developers that used to fill municipal coffers have dried up and planning has shifted inward.
The end of the land rush years in Mississauga has them considering new ways to raise money (an eight per cent tax increase is up for discussion) and move people around: The Ole Miss is planning a cross-town Bus Rapid Transit line and more than 300 kilometres of bike lanes. No LRT lines or subways yet, but maybe before she retires Iron Mayor Hazel McCallion can simply will a tunnel network into existence.
All this raises the possibility that Mississauga will end up being more open-minded about transit and urban development than Toronto. We thought the war on the car was over—it turns out instead there’s simply a new western front.