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Residents doubt Mississauga can afford massive transit plan

Forum poll finds 72% approve of new Mayor Bonnie Crombie, but only 34% think the city can afford her massive transit construction promises.
Jan. 20, 2015
By San Grewal

Only one-third of Mississauga residents believe the municipality can afford $3.8 billion for a planned LRT down the centre of the city and additional rapid transit that Mayor Bonnie Crombie promised during the 2014 election campaign, according to a new poll.

The poll by Forum Research was conducted Thursday, the day after Crombie and city manager Janice Baker told the Star at a council meeting that Mississauga cannot afford to cover one-third of the cost, a common funding model, for the planned $1.6-billion LRT, which the province wants to run along Hurontario St. from the Port Credit GO Train station all the way north into Brampton’s city centre. They said that if the province cannot cover the full cost as part of its regional Big Move transit strategy, the LRT plan, which was championed by former mayor Hazel McCallion, is unlikely to go ahead.

In a statement last May, McCallion said the city had invested about $15 million jointly with Brampton and the provincial agency Metrolinx in the LRT project, “and it is almost shovel-ready.”

The poll asked 845 Mississauga voters if the city could afford $3.8 billion for new rapid transit, including the light rail line.

Forty five per cent respondents said they approve of Crombie’s transit plan, which includes 100 kilometres of rapid transit coverage using new and existing routes or lines. But only 34 per cent think the city can afford it, while 42 per cent believe the city cannot afford it and 24 per cent don’t know.

Crombie enjoys widespread support among voters, despite concerns about funding her transit plan. Some 72 per cent of respondents said they approve of the job she's doing as mayor.

Forum president Lorne Bozinoff said the poll indicates the price tag for the proposed transit expansion has “the effect of muting enthusiasm, despite the perceived need for transit.”

Forum says its poll is accurate plus or minus three percentage points, 19 times out of 20.