By John Wilson

Since she was elected as mayor of Mississauga in 2014, Bonnie Crombie says her main focus has been on keeping the city affordable. That was her main message to The Compass Men’s Group when she visited The Compass on September 25.

Crombie discussed what part The Compass can play in providing a solution to Mississauga’s affordable housing crisis. The Compass is currently in talks with Indwell, the Hamilton-based Christian charity that builds affordable housing communities, to collaborate on a mixed-use affordable housing development in Port Credit.

Indwell has purchased the property at 425 Lakeshore Road East, formerly the site of the Firestone auto centre, between Shaw Drive and Enola Avenue. The tentative plan is for a three story building to be constructed on that site, with The Compass relocating to the lower level, and the upper two levels occupied by 66 affordable housing units.

Crombie has met with Indwell, and the City of Mississauga’s planning department is working with Indwell to facilitate this development quickly. From the designs she has seen, Crombie is impressed with Indwell’s plan. “These units,” she says, “are going to be accessible, they are going to be comfortable, and they are specifically intended for low-income residents who are only making between $450 and $500 per month.”

Compass volunteer Rob Organic, who invited Mayor Crombie to The Compass, with Mayor Crombie at dinner on September 25.

“The GTA has escalating house prices,” Crombie said, “which is great if you bought fifty years ago and want to sell…but it’s forcing the middle class and lower than the middle class out of the area. And we don’t want that. We want everybody to be able to live and work in our city.”

Crombie said that she is pleased the Region of Peel was able to acquire the Firestone property and transfer it to Indwell, before a developer got to it.

In this sense, Crombie’s priorities are very much in line with those of The Compass. She understands that one of the main objectives of The Compass is to find safe, reliable, and affordable housing for all of its clients. This is a situation that is difficult to deal with on a strictly municipal level, as the availability of space for affordable housing is created by the Region of Peel.

The city has continued to invest every year of Crombie’s term, to increase the inventory of housing that is appropriate for all people regardless of income. But the current waitlist for subsidized housing in Mississauga has 14,000 names on it, and Crombie admits that this is just not a sustainable situation. “Every year, new housing units are bought, but every year the wait list gets even longer.”

One step forward, one step back.

John Wilson is the Managing Editor of the Compass Directions Blog & Newsletter. He can be reached at editor@thecompass.ca.

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