Mississauga Mayoral Candidate: Andrew Seitz
During the mayoral campaign, insauga.com will sit down with all the mayoral candidates that choose to do so. This week we caht with Andrew Seitz.
1) What prompted you to run for office? Have you ever been involved in politics before?
I've run to be the Mayor of Mississauga in 2010, federally in 2004 and have been following politics since I was in high school. Now, in 2014, I'm running because I don't like what Mississauga has become - a sprawling, financially unsustainable, self important non-city. As a product of Mississauga, born and raised, I saw firsthand how power was concentrated and consolidated, how Mississauga would pursue one bad idea after another instead of spending the time and money to come up with an intelligent plan and then getting it done correctly. Planning has been done in a haphazard way while everyone in council has proven over and over again to not have any vision, imagination or foresight. It seems that council has no understanding of the consequences of their actions that they are detached from the very real problems the citizen's face within the city nor do they have the willingness to tackle these issues head on. If that weren't the case, then we would not have built ourselves out, we would have a real transit system by now, we wouldn't be in debt and we would have dealt with poverty and inequality a long time ago. But it never was about us - it was about councillors retaining power and helping their friends milk the system while Mississauga was being built.
Mississauga has always been about the money; getting as much as possible while spending as little as they could.
I may not have the name recognition that some other candidates have; however, I do have something that they're missing - a realistic, holistic and achievable plan. My policies are well thought out, well researched, and have been proven to work in other jurisdictions. What Mississauga needs is a council and Mayor that truly understand the issues and don't just offer up lip service and trendy plans. Trying to fix the symptoms of a problem without first tackling the underlying issues doesn't work. Yet, this is exactly what the City has done and will continue to do if the "big names" win. I have a plan, I know what needs to be done, and as your Mayor, I look forward to getting down to business.
2) What’s your platform?
Cancel the LRT up Hurontario.
The LRT is the wrong project for Hurontario; it would actually increase congestion and be only marginally faster than the bus since it would still be stuck at traffic lights. Request that the Provincial Government and MetroLinx reallocate the funds for the LRT towards extending the Subway from Kipling Station to SQ1.
Reduce Councillor Compensation
Cut councillor pay to $85,000, mayor to $90,000. Eliminate the 2nd paycheck from Peel Region - this is one job, not two. Restrictions on what can be claimed as an expense with considerable reductions in both expense accounts and car allowances.
Build a Food Culture.
Mississauga needs to become a destination for food. We need those incredible night markets like they have in Malaysia and Hong Kong.
Imagine how this would drive business: Hungry at night? Need some place to go? Have a bite to eat at the Mississauga Night Market!
We also need to encourage some delicious food trucks to take up residence within our boundaries. Bike vendors should be allowed to serve a greater variety of food than just ice cream and pop. Let them set up shop in our parks!
Mississauga should become the destination for Foodies - we need to emphasize gastronomic tourism!
Incubator warehouses for art and innovation.
Put all those empty warehouses to use instead of having them sit idle.
Mississauga should purchase these warehouses, renovate them and/or leave them as is so they can be used by artists and inventors. Let Mississaugans use these incubators at little or no expense so they can have the time and space to create social enterprises like co-ops, help start-ups by giving them space to experiment and perfect themselves in, give artists and inventor's spaces to be creative, practice and do what they do.
3) What are the top three issues you’d want to address if you were elected mayor? Why are those issues most important to you?
Our sense of community is broken. The tight bonds that existed within our neighbourhoods have fallen apart. How many of us actually know our neighbours? Older people certainly do but increasingly younger generations do not. Our social networks no longer exist in our real world communities. Where at one point people used to talk to and look out for each other on the street, now, people hide inside and watch TV or play online. This is a terrible development. Far too many of us have lost that sense of self worth. Jobless, adrift, angry, dealing with bad living conditions, isolated and in poor health, modern living and unreasonable expectations have robbed us of our happiness. This needs to change. We need to bring our communities back to life. We need to recreate that sense of pride - pride in our communities, in our abilities and in ourselves.
Having something to do and somewhere to go:
We need to create real spaces that youth use, not just community centres and bars. Culture, like that on Queen St. West (the second coolest neighbourhood in the world) is what we should be aiming for. Art, food, bars, clubs, independent restaurants, quiet spaces, cool shops, cheap rent, these will help retain our youths and our talents. We need incubators for creative people to build, design, practice and invent. We need to support our independent stores and restaurants. As our neighbourhood's age and are ready for redevelopment, Mississauga needs to ensure that we rebuild in the right mold. Urban design directly affects what can happen within our city.
Mississauga as a city needs to be less restrictive when it comes to bylaws and zoning and Mississaugans themselves need to become a little more tolerant to creative and loud personalities. Cookie-cutter people don't make for great culture. Being your true self within Mississauga will go a long way to bringing culture here; show the world who you are and what you're all about. If you have something to say, something to show, something to express, then do so in whatever medium that fits you. Too many regulations, rules and prejudices hold us back - we need to become more tolerant and curious. Throw caution to the wind and let your soul fly!
I'm for an extension of the TTC subway system from Kipling Station to SQ1. This is the most logical step we can take if we want to get cars off the road. This subway extension will do more to alleviate congestion than any other transit plan out there. Yet, what do we do if the funding doesn't come through for any candidate's transit plan including my own? Certainly there are steps we as a city can take.
First of all, let's synchronize our traffic lights. Imagine driving from one end of the city to the other encountering nothing but green lights. This is possible - just look at what Hamilton has done in their downtown and synchronized traffic lights certainly are effective in many German cities.
Our transit system needs to run 24 hours a day on our major routes. Let's make our transit ticket valid for 24 hours from the time of purchase. And most importantly, we need to run small electric buses (like the ones they have in Quebec City) through our winding neighbourhood streets. If bus stops were convenient and one didn't need to walk great distances to get to one, ridership would go up. Run the large buses we currently have along arterial routes, use the smaller electric buses to collect riders close to their homes. Since we don't have proper road permeability, this is the only solution currently available to bring transit closer to the people.
4) What major challenges lie ahead for the city, and how would you address them as mayor?
Mississauga is facing a revenue shortfall. This is one the first things that needs to be addressed. Raising the funds isn't the problem - paying them back is. We have some tough choices to make which need to be made by the entire populace, not just council. Do we cut services? Do we raise taxes? Or do we try something else? Mississauga needs to get into the business of business. It needs to own land and use it to spur innovation and enterprise. The city needs to create its own companies that can spur economic growth by keeping the profits within city coffers and the local economy. Money needs to stop flowing out of the city and remain here.
I'd start by creating a Development Corporation that hires locally and doesn't chase profit at our expense. This would save the city money as it redevelops itself and generate revenue as the city intensifies. Such a Social Enterprise Development Corporation would rebuild our road system, creating badly needed road permeability and build condos that the City would own and regulate the rent/purchase price of. Since subsidized housing is a major concern, this could help cut the 20 year wait that Mississaugans face for these scarce units. Developers could still build their projects but under stricter environmental guidelines then they have in the past. We need to extract greater social benefits from their buildings in exchange for the privilege of building in the city. Let's not give everything away as Mississauga has done in the past.
There are other ways that Mississauga can generate revenue: partnering up with keen minds that are developing incredible technologies, doing medical research or reinventing manufacturing. This can become a stream of revenue for Mississauga (like university/research arrangements) while allowing creative minds to use our city-owned incubators for free. We need to support them during their start-up, research and business development phases; they can return the favour when they're generating revenue. It's a win win situation.
All of this sounds great, however, for any of this to happen the city needs an immediate influx of cash to commence down this beneficial and profitable path.
Poverty makes living in Mississauga a near impossibility. As rents increase and well-paying employment with benefits and steady hours become harder for the marginalized to find, it is increasingly apparent that there are two Mississauga's and two life experiences within the city. Neither side is restricted to age, race, religion or education; the rich have a good life while the poor do not. Senior poverty is especially cruel since there are few opportunities to rectify the situation. Youth poverty robs a generation of their potential. The cards are stacked against the poor no matter their age.
Well-paying jobs with benefits are only part of the solution and to that end I say: Start a co-operative business with like-minded individuals and build yourselves up. Mississauga should support you as there are many social and economic benefits to starting a Co-operative business.
Housing is another issue Mississauga faces. Not enough available housing opportunities means what is available is unaffordable. We need to create more housing stock and much of it needs to be subsidized. Peel has a 20 year waiting list for a subsidized unit. Clearly, the powers that be don't give a damn about poverty because this situation should never have been allowed to happen in the first place. As Mississauga developed, it could have built subsidized units. The lies and excuses that come out of council and city administration to excuse their inaction are pathetic.
Children go to school hungry. Families are forced to live on the street, in cars or in shelters. Seniors must choose between medication and food, even shelter. That these stories even exist in affluent Mississauga is disgusting, it is criminal, it's a shame. Greed lives in Mississauga and it needs to be kicked out and replaced with compassionate and intelligent policies that benefit us all.
Mandate that all new multi-unit developments have at least 10% subsidized units mixed throughout the building. Heavily regulate basement apartment units and match them with suitable tenants. Work with trustees and the Ministry of Education to bring nutritional breakfast programs to every school in Peel Region. Create ethical, well-paying jobs with benefits by encouraging the development of Co-operative businesses and social enterprises. All this is possible right now if only we seized upon the opportunities before us!
How would you set yourself apart from Hazel?
Hazel has set herself apart from everyone else by building Mississauga her way without any consideration of the consequences. Anyone who follows in her footsteps will continue to lead Mississaugans down the wrong path. There needs to be a complete shift in the way Mississauga is run and new goals set for how it is to develop in the future.
I'd set myself apart by slowly rebuilding Mississauga into a sustainable city as neighbourhoods come up for redevelopment while ensuring that the city becomes an equitable and affordable place for everyone to live.
Please visit AndrewSeitz.ca for a complete list of policies - this is just the tip of the iceberg.