MAYORAL RACE: Damerla wants to make Mississauga affordable, safe, plus ‘cool and hip’

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Published June 6, 2024 at 2:51 pm

dipika damerla mississauga mayoral candidate

Mayoral candidate Dipika Damerla believes her experience can make Mississauga livable, safe and affordable.

Damerla is among 20 candidates in Mississauga’s mayoral byelection seeking to succeed Bonnie Crombie. The Ward 7 councillor since 2018, Damerla served as the Liberal MPP for Mississauga East-Cooksville from 2011 to 2018.

She focused on ideas such as bringing back community police stations, adding bike lanes, building homes near transit and making the city “cool and hip” during a brief interview with insauga.com publisher Khaled Iwamura (see below) before the June 10 byelection.

Bring back community police stations?

Damerla said she would like to explore bringing back community police stations as a way to address safety.

Community police stations started to close back in 2010. There were stations in Dixie Bloor, Clarkson, Streetsville and Cooksville but Peel Police decided to close them as they weren’t being used by residents.

Community policing may be more effective with neighbourhood stations, Damerla indicated.

“We used to have a whole bunch of community stations and we have pulled back from that,” she said.

The growing city safety concerns around auto theft requires change at upper levels of government. She applauds the federal government for moving on criminal code reform.

“But that is not enough, we need bail reform,” she said.

Damerla said she has been “loudly and seriously” advocating and putting pressure on the federal government to move on both bail and criminal code reform.

“So I am going to keep that pressure on as mayor,” she said.

Damerla would also announce a $10,000 reward through Crime Stoppers for any tip that leads to a conviction for auto theft in Mississauga.

Address affordability issues

One way city council can address affordability and inflation is by keeping taxes low, Damerla said.

“The biggest thing I can do is to keep your property taxes low,” she said.

She has committed to keep property taxes at or below the rate of inflation for the next two years. And she promises to give residents up to a 50 per cent discount on stormwater bills if people can do a few things.

Bike lanes on Bloor?

Damerla has been outspokenly against the removal of traffic lanes on Bloor Street but she says she is in favour of bike lanes.

“There is a way to put in bike lanes without removing car lanes,” Damerla said.

She believed there would be savings for the city if they didn’t remove the car lanes, and this money could go back into city coffers.

The Bloor Street redesign project was approved in June 2023 after two years of community meetings. The council-approved project would redesign the road to remove two traffic lanes and add a continuous two-way left turn lane and bike lanes.

Construction is slated to start this fall and be complete by the end of 2025, according to the latest timeline from the City of Mississauga.

Manage growth and build more housing

All the mayoral candidates have plans to get more housing built as the city and Canada are in a housing crisis, but Damerla said her plan is different. She has a plan to cut red tape at city hall to process building permits faster. But she also wants to focus housing growth near transit lines.

“Because if you just focus the growth everywhere and anywhere without transit then you are bringing density without transit, which means you are bringing a lot more cars and creating gridlock.”

She would like to see gentle infill in other areas and also more walkable neighbourhoods.

Vision for cool and hip Mississauga

Damerla wants Mississauga to be a vibrant place for young people. She wants people from Toronto and Oakville to come to Mississauga because it has something unique to offer.

“If we have young people who want to live in Mississauga because it is affordable and our city is cool and hip, what that means is we have employers coming here,” she said.

Employers want a safe city and good people who can work.

Addressing the safety and affordability issues will make Mississauga a vibrant city again, she said.

She hopes people will come to Mississauga for opportunities to get ahead for themselves and their family.

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