Mississauga goes against own policy in making ‘Merry Christmas’ bus messages optional, mayor says


Published February 3, 2023 at 2:40 pm

miway merry christmas

Mississauga officials are taking another look at whether or not to make it optional for MiWay transit drivers to display “Merry Christmas” and other messages on the exterior front display panels of their buses.

In an unusual move before Christmas, Mayor Bonnie Crombie and Mississauga councillors went against a City of Mississauga bylaw in deciding informally, by email, to give MiWay drivers the option to display messages or not.

Previously, all MiWay buses displayed seasonal and other messages on the exterior digital panel where bus route information also appears, and it wasn’t up to individual drivers.

The move prompted some criticism from the public, and council is now revisiting the matter.

Crombie said at Wednesday’s (Feb. 1) meeting of council that she was hesitant to table the matter once again.

“I don’t know if I want to go into this muddy water, but maybe we need some clarity,” she said just before council adjourned for the day.

Crombie said that prior to the holidays, “we kind of overrode our own bylaw on signage on the buses,” noting it was done by email with no formal meeting.

“So, I’m wondering if we just couldn’t take a fresher look at signage on the buses (and) what did we conclude? Because we seem to have gone against our own policy over the holidays,” she said.

The mayor asked City staff to look at the matter and return with a recommendation.

Geoff Wright, Mississauga’s transportation and works commissioner, said staff will bring back a report that looks at what council approved previously and any updates since then.

“And perhaps a bit of an education as well in terms of how that system operates…how information is uploaded onto each bus and the process by which a transit operator enacts the display messages,” Wright added.

Crombie pointed out that in one earlier situation, a bus actually had to go out of service because it took so long to load up the message that it missed an oil change and couldn’t function that day.

“So, there are some technical issues. There are also municipalities that just keep it clean, ‘This is bus 101 and it’s going where it’s going and you’re on the right bus’,” the mayor said.

Ward 7 Councillor Dipika Damerla spoke in support of keeping the seasonal messages alive on MiWay buses.

Seeing a “Merry Christmas” greeting or, in previous years, a “Go Leafs, Go!” message is uplifting, she said.

“It’s a small give, but it means so much to people. It’s an easy way to make people feel included. To see something that maybe a small group of people identify with publicly on a bus is a great feeling.”

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