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In car-centric Mississauga, mayoral race sees calls for more transit options

As the Mississauga mayoral race enters its final stretch, some voters who don’t rely on cars are using the moment to push cars out of the limelight in favour of other transportation solutions.

Vicki Tran uses her bike to get around Mississauga as often as possible, but far too often finds that to be a harrowing experience in a city largely built with cars in mind.

The city has a system of trails and some bike lanes, but there are gaps in bike lane infrastructure, forcing cyclists to share the road with cars for several blocks, depending on the destination.

“I have to mentally prepare myself every day to get out on the road,” said Tran. “There are some pockets of good spots, but it really depends on where you have to go.”

Tran says she is looking for a new mayor who recognizes that while many rely on a car to get around what was once a bedroom community, for many others who can’t afford or prefer not to drive, there need to be better options.

She’s not alone in the call for a new mayor to shift attention from cars to other forms of transportation.

New LRT under construction in Mississauga
The Hazel McCallion LRT in under construction along Hurontario. Some candidates are proposing east-west transit connections. (Clara Pasieka/CBC)

Cyrus Gazdar, a student at University of Toronto Mississauga, says it takes him between 17 and 20 minutes by car to get from his home in Meadowvale to the campus, but 45 minutes to an hour and 15 minutes if he needs to take a Miway bus.

“It is quite difficult to get around Mississauga in general just by transit. You basically have to have a car to get around comfortably,” he said. Last year he recalls waiting by the UTM bus stop in a blizzard for over an hour waiting to get on a bus.

Buses are often full, not frequent enough and some routes involve walks so long, it doesn’t make sense for people to choose transit as an option if given the choice, he says. 

Shifting the focus away from cars has been a contentious topic on the campaign trail. Several candidates have clashed over the Bloor Street integrated road project. Already approved by council, the project will mean eliminating two car lanes on Bloor Street to make way for bike lanes.

We asked some of the mayoral candidates where they stand on transit and cycling issues. Here’s what they had to say:

Dipika Damerla

Dipika Damerla opposes the plan to eliminate some car lanes on Bloor Street and says she’ll fight it. She says bike lanes are important, but she will pause bike lanes on street that do not connect to a network.

“We’re facing growing congestion in Mississauga and the solution is not taking car lanes off busy streets like Bloor, but instead focusing our efforts on building transit,” she said.

Damerla says she would complement the Hurontario LRT by building east-west connections on Dundas Sreet, Eglinton Avenue and Derry Road.

She also says she would extend the subway from Etobicoke to Mississauga once the subway expansion to Sherway Gardens moves ahead. 

Carolyn Parrish

Carolyn Parrish says she would work toward creating some sort of east-west connection to complement the in-progress Hazel McCallion LRT.

She would also work toward all day GO service to Milton.

Parrish also says she would make safer cycling lanes and have speed humps installed during road resurfacing.

Stephen Dasko

Stephen Dasko says if elected, he’ll move a motion asking council to review decision around the Bloor Street Integrated Project.

He says he would also extend the subway into Mississauga and the Lakeshore TTC streetcar into Lakeview.

Dasko also says he would increase capacity and frequency of service on the most used transit lines.

Alvin Tedjo

Alvin Tedjo says he would work to complete the proposed Dundas East Light Rail Transit Line that will travel along Dundas Street and turn north on Hurontario to merge with the Hazel McCallion LRT.

He’s proposing four new Bus Rapid Transit lines (along Derry Road, Erin Mills Parkway, Dixie Road and Lakeshore Road) that will provide north-south and east-west connections for commuters. 

He says he’d also continue to advocate for two-way, all-day GO service along the Milton Line so local residents can use it to get around Mississauga instead of only using it to Toronto.

Many transit promises being made by the candidates are not yet costed and several would involve other levels of government.

Here’s the full list of candidates:

  • Zulfiqar Ali
  • Diya Atassi
  • Brian Crombie
  • Dipika Damerla
  • Stephen Dasko
  • Jamie Dookie
  • Frank Fang
  • Xiaohua Gong
  • Winston Harding
  • Sara Iqbal
  • Syed Jaffery
  • Mohsin Khan
  • Mitchell MacEachern
  • Sinisa Mandrapa
  • Mike Matulewicz
  • Carolyn Parrish
  • David Shaw
  • George Tavares
  • Alvin Tedjo
  • Nathalie Xian Yi Yan

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