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Residents of Mississauga, Ont. head to polls to choose Bonnie Crombie’s successor

Written by on June 10, 2024

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — Residents of Mississauga, Ont. headed to the polls on Monday to elect their next mayor, as the top three contenders offered different visions for the future of the province’s third largest city.

The byelection was triggered after former mayor Bonnie Crombie stepped down in January to lead the Ontario Liberals.

Mayoral candidate Carolyn Parrish, a former city councillor and federal member of Parliament, initially held a wide lead over her opponents in early polling. However, recent polls indicate her lead has declined following her decision to not take part in candidate debates, allowing city councillors Dipika Damerla and Alvin Tedjo to close the gap.

To run for mayor, Parrish resigned as councillor for Ward 5, whose residents will also be electing a candidate to fill her seat.

“This is an opportunity for my experience to click in, my knowledge. I’ve really put my whole soul into being a councillor for the last 13 years,” Parrish said in a phone interview. “I’ve learned a lot, and I believe I’m the right person to actually solve some of the problems we’re facing.”

With the key issue of housing availability and affordability at the forefront of the race, Parrish said she would work to rezone land for residential use in shopping hubs to minimize disruption to existing neighbourhoods.

“You have to try to keep everything in balance. But you also have to build more housing and you have to build it quickly,” said Parrish.

Damerla, councillor for Ward 7 and a former Ontario MPP, said “there’s no time to waste” for the new mayor to start working for residents.

“You hear about the housing crisis, but you also hear about the sense that city hall doesn’t listen to people. And so they feel that their voice is not valued… my commitment is that in the past, I do listen, and as mayor, that will be my style,” Damerla said.

Damerla added that she would work to approve housing applications faster, prioritize creating walkable neighbourhoods, and waive development charges for purpose-built rentals.

“I think Mississauga has this wonderful opportunity in front of us to become that next level city, we’re going to grow with that growth,” Damerla said.

Alvin Tedjo, councillor for Ward 2, said this election is distinct because residents have “a real choice” in the direction they want the city to go.

“Do we want to keep things the way they are, try to focus more on those smaller neighbourhoods?” Tedjo asked. “Or do we understand that the need for housing is so great and the need for affordability is so great and the two are linked, that we need to have a different approach moving forward?”

Tedjo emphasized he would prioritize transit-oriented communities and freezing property taxes until 2026.

“People don’t see an opportunity for their kids or their grandkids to live in the city because we know how expensive it is. I’ve got three young kids myself… I want them to be able to do what I did, which is live in the community they grew up in,” Tedjo said.

For Mississauga residents such as Ana Chang, who has lived in the city since childhood, the most important concern is ensuring that the city remains livable for her family.

“I just hope it becomes a more affordable place,” Chang said. “A more climate-ready place, more opportunities for immigrants to find work, and housing that will meet the needs of young families.”

Polls close at 8 p.m. The byelection winner will serve as mayor for the remainder of the 2022-2026 term.

The Canadian Press