What typifies a soft summer night in Mississauga more than that smoky, woody smell from over the fence around your neighbour’s deck; or wafting from that old Civic idling in the cul-de-sac there; or drifts up from the park behind the school or the balcony of that luxury condo?
Mississauga, the city that grows its own: Hume
Hard on the heels of a report from the manager of the city’s food bank is another less-than-encouraging picture of social conditions in Mississauga. This time from the Community Foundation of Mississauga. Vital Signs documents like the newest one for Mississauga are produced by community foundations all over Canada. They offer a compelling and critical look at where things are at. …could be better Mississauga. The fact that 1 in 4 residents struggle to cover basics like rent and groceries and transportation here is a bit of a kick in the head.
This posting’s image is something of a front line moment in the response to social difficulty in Mississauga. It’s from one of the food drives put on by the regional police. This particular “cram-a-cruiser” drive stocked up the food pantry at a drop in centre that assists many people in uncertain situations, living the precarious lives described in a Vital Signs report. In just a few hours the police are able to leverage their credit in the community and secure a large quantity of staple items, one or two at a time, from willing people doing their weekly shop. A powerful example of what can result from people working together.
Mississauga’s Vital Signs Facts
Seventeen percent of the population of suburban-poverty.com’s resident city live in poverty. Mississauga’s poverty rates are driven by the nasty combination of high housing costs and lacklustre wages. Toronto sits at a poverty rate of twenty-three percent and Winnipeg is at eleven percent by way of comparison. Mississauga Food Bank just released a report on social conditions here and the reading of it is a sombre sitting indeed.
The face of hunger in Mississauga 2013 8-page .pdf file
(205) Our own backyard
(99) Mississauga is broke
(3) A place called Mississauga
image: aerial view of central Mississauga by Jok2000 via Wikimedia Commons
Mississauga, the muscular central-westerly expanse of the Greater Toronto Area, has been getting media of late. Architecture critic and urbanist Christopher Hume of the Toronto Star wrote the other day that he felt as if Alberta begins on the Humber River. Like others, Hume was reacting to the newness, the commerce, the construction, the hustle-and-bustle found where there was previously an unsatisfying incompleteness of place. Even those deeply critical of Mississauga’s unimaginative planning and the cozy relationships found there between developers and city hall are taken aback at the sheer scale of things now.
As for the poverty, well, it’s pretty much always been there. Mississauga is home to a fringe working class, many born Canadians not doing so hot and now joined by newcomers with their own difficulties. Some new data is available and it got mention in the Mississauga News recently. A publication primarily acting as a sleeve for advertising flyers is to be encouraged when it devotes even a few square centimetres to those not living in monster homes or ripping up and down Highway 10 in a Lexus SUV. Cooksville and Malton are the two worst parts of Mississauga if you want to know where the poverty is in this sizeable slab of real estate. Around the corner from this blog’s offices are neighbourhoods with child poverty rates of twenty and thirty per cent.
Malton, Cooksville among poorest communities
image: Ian Mutoo via Wikimedia Commons
Canadians count themselves a fortunate people. Perhaps that’s why they are such squanderers as well?
Case in point, the vast suburban project directly west of Toronto. Mississauga enjoyed a true golden age of property development, a California-esque era of low taxes, easy services, smugness, and growth, growth, growth. The cornfields went down. The houses went up. The money changed hands. Now, it looks like the party is over in the city whose official tag line is the frighteningly vacuous “Leading today for tomorrow.” If the private and public economy alike can’t be kept up by a massive flow of development-based revenue then what will happen? Nobody seems to know but denial isn’t really an option any more. This year, the city that bragged about never laying off staff and not needing tax increases levied a whopping 7.4% increase on its property tax payers. Imagine the pain in a true blue Tory place that kind of thing brings on!
Architecture and urban affairs columnist Christopher Hume pulls punches in the item linked below. Even if you hate the kind of sprawling megasuburb Mississauga is you can’t read a demolition job like this without a fearful feeling of apocalypse to come.
Hume: Mississauga waking up to a new reality Toronto Star
Created in 1974, Mississauga is a vast Edge City in the western part of one of North America’s largest city-suburb agglomerations. For decades there it was all about growth, growth, growth. Now, the buzz has begun to wear off a bit, especially in areas with older high rise buildings. This article from the Globe and Mail, a relatively conservative newspaper for its century-or-so of existence, encapsulates the dawning of an awareness of post-growth issues, including poverty. Targeting priority neighbourhoods for social spending, as is done in Toronto, has begun to get support. The tagline of the City of Mississauga is ‘Leading Today for Tomorrow.’ We’ll see what that means soon enough!
Poverty hides in the suburbs: will ‘priority neighbourhoods’ help?