Connecting Mississauga: UTM Urbanism Club aims to improve public transit and city living for students
Cutting wait times and increasing UTM’s MiWay budget are among the top goals.

Imagine this: you just stepped out of your home and you have an important lecture in 15 minutes. You need to catch a bus, but the moment you reach the bus stop, the bus you need has already left. The next bus is in 30 minutes, and you spend the next half an hour waiting in the cold, missing most of your lecture. 

A majority of the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM) student body does not need to imagine this scenario; it’s a discomfort that many of us experience, especially if we live off campus. The unpredictability of Mississauga’s “MiWay” transit system has messed up our plans on more than one occasion. However, is wallowing in this feeling enough? Don’t you wish to voice your concerns somewhere? Don’t you want to find other people who feel the same way? If the last two questions resonate with you, that means you’re suited for the UTM Urbanism Club.

The UTM Urbanism Club originated from its current president, Ethan Lam, and his experience of living in Mississauga and missing three MiWay buses in a row. 

“After visiting other places where you can live without a car because the city is well-designed and there is good public transit, like Europe, it was irritating to come back to Mississauga where you can’t get anywhere by bike, scooter or foot, and you can really only get places by car or using the MiWay system, which leaves much to be desired,” Lam explained.

After looking for a way to change the MiWay system in UTM to no avail, Lam decided to “gather many like-minded individuals together, and see if they could make something happen.” Lam got some people together and launched a Discord server to gauge interest. The server ballooned in size and became very active. Eventually, that server evolved into the UTM Urbanism Club, a private advocacy group “dedicated [to] bettering the city and the city spaces.” 

The club has a strong focus on improving the MiWay system, an effort led by Cyrus Gazdar, the UTM Urbanism Club’s Advocacy Lead. During the 2023 fall semester, Gazdar explained that the club talked with MiWay, along with the Transit Advocating Party (a branch of the UTMSU that bargains with MiWay for the UPASS), and a few other clubs about these issues. UTM Urbanism also released a survey to understand more about what the student body wants to see changed in the MiWay system. 

“From the survey,” Gazdar said, “the biggest problem is that buses do not appear on time, or they are too full—all issues that can only be received by having more buses running on lines like the 1C or the 44.” Gazdar charted out UTM Urbanism’s next goals to talk to the Mississauga City Council, University of Toronto administration, and other campus committees to get some funding adjustments in the MiWay budget or work within the current MiWay budget to get more buses running along UTM routes.

Gazdar also shed some light as to why the MiWay system has been so erratic as of late. “During the pandemic, the MiWay budget was cut since fewer people used public transit during the lockdown. However, in the two years since, ridership has surged beyond pre-pandemic levels, but the funding MiWay receives is still close to the funding they received during the pandemic.” 

Gazdar admits that this is an issue that cannot be resolved just by talking to MiWay. He stressed that by working with all the stakeholders—MiWay, City Council, the Administration—by going straight to the people making decisions and listing our grievances, students can make change.

In addition to improving MiWay, Gazdar also specified that the UTM Urbanism Club is working to improve the digital UPASS system. 

“The digital UPASS is more of a complicated topic,” Gazdar explained. “There are some people who like it, and some people who don’t. Usually, the UPASS system is renegotiated every year between the UTMSU and MiWay, so we are looking to see if there are any changes that can be made to the system to benefit all students before the next negotiation period.”

Regarding future plans, Joshua Wuebbolt, the UTM Urbanism Events Executive and a founding member of the club, admitted that improving MiWay is the main focus of  the club for the foreseeable future. 

“In the future, we want to touch on many more parts of urbanism—urbanism is much more than just public transportation. However, as a small club, we want to focus our attention on one issue, the MiWay, before moving to something else,” said Wuebbolt.

Wuebbolt stressed that all future efforts from the club will focus on making Mississauga a denser, more liveable city. Wuebbolt explained that much of Mississauga is zoned for single family housing, which makes everything far apart. It makes it harder for people to get around; the further apart everything is, the harder it is to walk, bike, or scooter. Another consequence of Mississauga being a spread-out city is the impact on our social life. 

“Life in Toronto seems much better than in Mississauga, in part because it feels like everything is closer together, and it helps build a sense of community that is lacking in Mississauga,” explained Gazdar.

The goal of the UTM Urbanism Club is to improve Mississauga by making it easier to get from one point to the other and make the city more connected. Our time in university may be some of the best moments in our lives, and the city we live in plays a large role in that. The UTM Urbanism Club is advocating for changes to help unify Mississauga, and to allow us to be connected to the city.

If you’re interested in becoming more involved in the UTM Urbanism Club, or urbanism in general, the club has several social and informative events for the new semester. In January 2024, the club has plans for a “Build Our City Together” event, where all attendees’ input will be taken to build the best or worst city on City Skylines II, a 2023 city-building game developed by Colossal Order and published by Paradox Interactive. In February 2024, the club will table at a basketball game that UNICEF is hosting. UTM Urbanism Club will also organize an information session by RMTransit, a local transit YouTuber who evaluates transit systems across the world. 

However, if you’re looking for a more informal way to participate in the club, check out their Discord server (UTM Urbanism Club) or the weekly lunches the club hosts every week.

Associate Features Editor (Volume 50) — Madhav is a second-year student completing a double major in Mathematics and Computer Science, and a minor in Professional Writing and Communication. Everyone in UTM has a unique story that makes them special and deserves to be told. As an Associate Features Editor, Madhav wants to narrate these types of stories with creative and descriptive writing. In his off time, Madhav loves watching anime, reading manga or fantasy novels, and listening to music.


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