On October 22, Mississauga will elect its mayor, councillors, and school board trustees. In advance of the fall date, The Varsity spoke to four of the six candidates running for council in Ward 8, which contains the UTM campus.
The candidates spoke about student issues ranging from affordable and safe housing to public transit.
Candidates Abdul Azeem Baig and Amadeus Blazys could not be reached for an interview.
Mahoney is the incumbent councillor for Ward 8, a seat he’s held since 2014, and one which his mother, Katie Mahoney, previously held for 23 years. Speaking to The Varsity, he said that he’s very “proud” of his track record in community projects.
“We’ve created… community-based facilities that UTM students can access, whether it’s multi-use courts, whether it’s new park land, whether it’s transit investment,” said Mahoney.
On affordable and safe housing, Mahoney believes that U of T and other universities should improve their current situation, especially due to their growing numbers.
“This year at UTM was the highest [intake of] first-year students that the university has ever had, and yet they didn’t expand their housing on campus,” he noted. “I 100 per cent support and have been encouraging the university to invest more money in housing to make sure that local students as well as foreign students have a safe and quality place to live.”
On public transit, Mahoney said that his office has met with Mayor Bonnie Crombie, the University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union, and the university administration to discuss collaborating with other municipalities, including Brampton, to have “one pass with one fee that the students can access.”
On job opportunities for students, Mahoney claimed that Mississauga regularly attracts Fortune 500 companies, and said that the city is an essential base of human capital due to its large student presence.
“We’ve got economic development promoting the University of Toronto Mississauga and vice versa to ensure that students have a quality job,” he said. “What we want is the students who come from outside of Mississauga or outside of the country to stay in Mississauga.”
Shah believes that affordable housing has become a “rising concern” for many communities in Mississauga.
In order to solve this issue, he is committed to meeting with MPs, MPPs, and other members of local government “to ensure that we all have a safe place for ourselves, our families, our students, and our communities.”
For public transit, Shah conceded that, although students have access to a U-Pass, commuting could be expensive for those taking other systems like the GO train. He put forward the idea of having shuttles from different stations in Mississauga.
When it comes to job opportunities, Shah said that he’ll reach out to big companies to encourage them to take in UTM co-op students instead of students from other universities.
“I will make sure that they will give preference to the students who [are in] UTM, and this is my main concern right now,” said Shah.
Etwell is a political newcomer who criticized the current members of city council who “appear satisfied to maintain the status quo.”
“I don’t have previous elected experience, which I would say is a feature of my record that speaks to my propensity for success,” he noted. “Because if you turn to the track record of the current council, we’ve had the same problems getting worse and worse.”
Etwell emphasized that the need for affordable and safe housing is one of his main priorities. “We can’t just keep refurbishing old developments that are 50 or 60 years old,” said Etwell. “We need to pay for new developments.”
When asked about public transit, Etwell said that, although Metrolinx covers the GO system instead of the City of Mississauga, the local government could offer riders increased frequency.
“I would say maintain open communication with organizations like Metrolinx, making sure that we’re doing everything we can to foster that partnership to make things [as] affordable as possible,” he said.
Regarding job opportunities, Etwell said that it’s important to turn to students as a burgeoning part of the workforce. “I would rather us foster in-house talent so that we can retain assets,” he explained. “What better way to foster assets than to turn to… universities and colleges where people who are extremely talented are coming out of various programs that can be relevant to the city.”
Nowacki told The Varsity that he is a “strong believer in higher education,” and that his platform is “pro-business.”
“Education creates innovation and prosperity, and I’m very proactive in fighting for a better Mississauga,” he said.
“We will turn Mississauga into a twenty-first century city.”
On affordable housing, Nowacki said that Mississauga needs to construct taller buildings due to a lack of space, and pledged to work with U of T, the government, and private companies on this.
“This will somehow resolve the housing problem for not only students but other residents,” he asserted. “More houses will be available, prices will be lower, fees will be lower.”
Nowacki also wants to create a unified transit system across the GTA and pledged to work with the province on it.
“I will see if there is a possibility that the provincial government will agree to make one transit,” he said. “So for students, in this case, if they have Mississauga transit, Mississauga pass, they will have a GTA pass, which will allow them to travel not only to Mississauga, but all over the GTA.”
When it comes to job opportunities, Nowacki wants international businesses to go to Mississauga. “This will require some changing and planning in urban development, because we need to create and plan some areas where we can dedicate it to commercial businesses,” he said.
Students in Mississauga can take part in advance voting from October 5–6 at Mississauga Civic Centre, and October 13–14 at all community centres and elementary and secondary schools in the Ward 8 area.
On Election Day, UTM students will have access to various voting locations near campus. St. Mark Separate School, South Common Community Centre, Holy Name of Mary College School, Erindale Secondary School, Oakridge Public School, St. Margaret of Scotland Elementary School, and St. Clare Separate School in Mississauga all offer polling booths close to their classrooms.
— With files from Ann Marie Elpa and Silas Le Blanc