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Housing and identity: Questions about Mississauga's future as election looms

Ana Chang has called Mississauga home since she was seven years old. Now, raising her own children in this rapidly developing city in southern Ontario, she reflects on the challenges ahead. The rising cost of housing and the uncertainty surrounding the city's urban identity concern her deeply.

"I love my neighborhood and the family-friendly lifestyle here," says the 36-year-old. "But I worry about my kids' future. Despite having good careers, my husband and I need part-time jobs to afford our mortgage. I don't want my children to face the same financial struggles we do."

As Mississauga gears up to elect its fifth mayor, the city stands at a crossroads. Longtime residents like Chang have witnessed its evolution from a mere bedroom community into the third largest city in Ontario and the seventh largest in Canada.

Shauna Brail, director at the Institute for Management and Innovation at the University of Toronto Mississauga, emphasizes the need for a clear vision. The next mayor must address whether Mississauga will maintain its suburban image or move towards densification and affordable housing.

"The key question is, what makes Mississauga a place? And what does it need to offer to people of different income groups?" says Brail.

The demand for housing in Mississauga has surged in recent years. The average price of a detached home now stands at $1.3 million, while the wait for subsidized housing stretches up to 18 years.

Kelly Singh, from the housing advocacy group More Homes Mississauga, highlights the mounting pressure, particularly on young people who fear they may never afford a home in their hometown.

Stakeholders acknowledge the urgency for solutions. Singh recalls the recent approval of fourplexes, which came after significant pressure. However, some councillors rejected the motion due to concerns about increased density.

Community leaders like Bill Johnston stress the importance of development that respects the local environment and involves consultation. Johnston expresses concerns over proposed high-rise buildings that could encroach on local parks and conservation areas.

Matt Kerbel, a resident since 2011, believes there's room for compromise. Despite concerns about increased traffic, he supports proposals for low-rise buildings in his neighborhood.

For Chang and others, the goal is simple: to keep Mississauga affordable and livable for generations to come. "I just hope it becomes a more affordable place, ready for climate change, with more opportunities for immigrants and housing that meets the needs of young families," she says.



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