Mississauga Looks to Province to Fund Major City Projects

It’s no secret that Mississauga is tackling a range of high-profile city-building projects that will redefine the city and help it evolve from a quiet bedroom community to a vibrant urban municipality.

For that reason, it’s asking for more support from the province.

City councillors recently approved the 2018 pre-budget submission to the Province of Ontario in a recent council meeting. This report outlines the top projects that are currently underway, as well as the ways in which these projects can be addressed through the provincial budget.

For those who are unaware, the pre-budget submission is a report that Ontario encourages municipalities to complete in order to establish priorities for the upcoming years. The city is no stranger to these reports, as it has issued them before.

There were five areas of focus that were mentioned in the city's report and they include:

  • Strategic Transit Initiatives
  • Sustainable Infrastructure Funding
  • Legislative Changes
  • City-Building Initiatives
  • Affordable Housing and other Partnerships

As the sixth largest city in Canada, transit has become a crucial component of both short-term and long-term development. Having key connections between Mississauga and the Greater Toronto and Hamilton areas will play an important role as the city continues to grow.

For that reason, the city is asking the province to invest in the development of the downtown Mississauga Transitway Downtown Connection, the Regional Express Rail (RER) on the Milton GO Corridor (also known as the "Missing Link") and the redevelopment of Bus Rapid Transit through Dundas Connects.

“There is a buzz about Mississauga these days as we are a city in demand,” said Mayor Bonnie Crombie. “To build the Mississauga of the future, we need federal and provincial support in the form of long term, predictable funding for our top priorities like infrastructure, affordable, middle-class housing, and transit - the foundations of our city. As the two governments prepare their 2018 Budget, they need to listen to the priorities of Mississauga, as well as municipalities across the province. We are the economic engines and need committed and engaged federal and provincial government partners to continue to build and remain prosperous.”

Alongside investments in transit, the city says it has continued and will continue to reinvest into infrastructure.

Mississauga currently has infrastructure assets valued at $8.9 billion (examples include roads, stormwater, buildings, bridges, etc). To maintain these projects, the city estimates an annual replacement cost of $338 million (excluding stormwater assets).

Currently, the city has $78 million budgeted for the replacement of infrastructure—leaving $260 million without funding. The recommendation is that the provincial budget provide an ongoing funding model to keep assets in place for renewal projects.

“As Mississauga grows, a strong, continuing partnership with the governments of Canada and Ontario will ensure that we can effectively address the many challenges of a large city,” said Janice Baker, City Manager and Chief Administrative Officer. “Among all levels of government, Mississauga like all municipalities, receives the smallest share (eight to 10 per cent) of all tax dollars collected in Canada, yet we own 60 per cent of the infrastructure."

Currently the largest revenue source for the city comes in the form of property taxes, however, Mississauga is looking for other ways to generate revenue.

The report is recommending that the provincial government approve an increase in the payments in lieu of taxes (PILT) by the Greater Toronto Airport Authority (GTAA) from $0.94 to $1.90 per passenger, a rate that has not been changed since 2001 even though municipal tax rates have increased. Other propositions include making legislative changes to give municipalities more authority over development of new revenue streams.

The Port Credit Harbour arena and Inspiration Lakeview are two waterfront development projects that the city is seeking funding for. Both projects would support future growth within the city, as businesses and visitors would ideally enjoy the scenic touches (these are, in essence, place-making projects).

The projects are labeled as priority by the city, but they are not being completely funded.

The City of Toronto has received over $1.8 billion from higher levels of government for the development of 43-km of lakefront projects since 1990, while Mississauga has only received $4 million over the same time period. With funding from the provincial government, the city would be able to proceed with the two projects.

Thr city is also looking to help tackle the affordable housing crisis that’s pushing lower and middle-class residents out of the city.

This is actually a file that Mississauga has been active on, as it has already taken initiative with its 2017 "Making Room for the Middle" plan. The project is looking to ensure that 35 per cent of Mississauga's housing is affordable for middle-income earners. Mississauga is proposing to work with all levels of government to work on housing affordability within the city by calling for the removal of regulatory and administrative barriers on developing affordable housing.

Interestingly enough, another new revenue source could potentially be under way. Under the new Federal Cannabis Act (Bill C-45) the use and sale of cannabis will be legal in Canada as of July 2018. Since municipalities will bear most of the responsibilities of enforcing the legislation, Mississauga is asking for its fair share of tax revenue.

The city is also seeking support on climate change, the Small Business Enterprise Centre (SBEC) as well as culture and heritage infrastructure.

How will the provincial budget be allocated for these projects? Reports to come in upcoming months.

Cover photo by @gualdjouma

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