Following a series of Mississauga budget meetings, residents, workers, and students can expect some big-ticket items emerging post-budget approval on December 4.
Last week, Mississauga’s budget committee listened to proposed 2020 Budget and Business Plans from most city service areas. Transit, emergency, and recreation services were among some program areas that presented their future budget vision.
Throughout the three consecutive meetings held on November 18, 19, and 25, the Budget’s Standing Committee deliberated on a series of presentations. Each focused on achieving “quality of service, service delivery and value for money.”
The various business planning cycles each aligned with the City’s four corporate priorities. These priorities include delivering the right services that reflect a balance “between citizen service expectations and fiscal responsibility, implementing cost strategies, or value for money, maintaining infrastructure based on current needs and priorities, as well as advancing Mississauga’s Strategic Vision, which affirms Mississauga as a ‘global urban city recognized for its municipal leadership.’”
Below are some worthy highlights from the 2020 Business Plan & Budget.
Mississauga’s main transit provider, MiWay transit, has long focused on improving service delivery and expansion every six to eight months each year.
Through its MiWay Five Transit Service Plan (2016-2020), the transit system wants to move “from a design that radiates from the city centre to a grid network that allows for more frequent and direct services along main corridors.”
MiWay’s 2020-2040 Business Plan outlook will further develop its five-year service plan beyond 2020 through a second five-year service plan (2021-2025).
Continuing on these improvements, MiWay revealed its plan to increase transit service in 2020 by adding 32,600 more service hours. This service-spike will help transit-riders get around the city by accessing new service routes, such as the Churchill Meadows Community Centre expanding into the Ninth Line.
The new community centre project will become home to “75,000 square feet of community centre,” including a “50-acre park.” The community centre and park are provided by the City and will be located “within the Ninth Line lands future development area between Highway 403 and 401.”
Approved transportation plans will start with the Dundas Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), the Lakeshore High-Order Transit Corridor, and the Downtown Mississauga Terminal and Transitway Connection. Mobility improvement plans include implementation strategies that “encourage the use of more sustainable transportation options including cycling, walking, transit usage and carpooling.”
This multi-modal transportation system will further be facilitated through continued implementation of the Cycling Master Plan. Endorsed by the city in June 2018, the plan will result in “897 kilometres of infrastructure to be built over 27 years,” through increasing various types of bicycle lanes, multi-use trails, and “shared routes between cyclists and motorists on roads with lower speeds.”
Alongside working with Metrolinx in 2020 to construct the Hurontario Light Rail Transit (LRT), similar future projects will include the new Kipling Mobility Hub (2020), Hurontario LRT service integration (2023), and investments in new hybrid buses and battery electric change-off cars.
MiWay’s yearly customer boarding rate is expected to exceed 59 million in 2020. Increased ridership is credited to the continued investments in MiWay, which also allows for more city street service. As the city’s largest transit provider and Ontario’s third-largest municipal transit provider, MiWay services make up 23 per cent of Mississauga’s total budget.
Mississauga residents generally share positive views of recreational activities provided by city services. For instance, according to a public survey from June and July 2017, 95 per cent of respondents agreed that recreation was important to their quality of life, and 98 per cent said that recreation builds strong communities.
However, 60 per cent thought the number of programs was “just right,” and 38 per cent said there were “too few” program opportunities. The Recreation Division’s 2020-2030 Business Plan Outlook aims to change the ease of access to recreation and leisure in the City of Mississauga.
Focusing on key priorities over the next 10 years, this division seeks to promote access and inclusion for marginalized populations through “targeted and focused efforts,’’ and by “promoting opportunities, understanding any barriers and removing them.”
According to the 2020 Business Plan, some residents “may not be able to access services for a variety of reasons including affordability, not feeling welcomed, physical accessibility, and feeling that activities are not representative of their interests.”
The Master Plan will also target the city’s diverse groups by targeting community engagement, addressing facility infrastructure needs, and adding service delivery for youth and older adults.
According to the plan, youth, teens, and older adults will be supported because “their participation levels
are often lower than those of other age groups.” According to the city and recreation master plan, it’s important that “these individuals continue their participation to achieve the benefits of recreation at these critical life stages.”
The 2019 Future Directions for Recreation, or Recreation Master Plan, will help Mississauga deliver future recreation facilities, programs and services until 2028. This Master Plan helps guide an “innovative, sustainable and fiscally responsible” plan to meet resident needs in response to population changes, trends in recreation participation, and operating conditions.
A major highlight of the Master Plan includes the new Churchill Meadows Community Centre. U of T Mississauga students will be able to travel to the community centre in less than 20 minutes by car.
The facility will offer an “indoor aquatics centre, triple gymnasium and program rooms.” To support such community engagement plans, the 2020 Recreation budget proposed increasing its net operating impact by $1.9 million in comparison to 2019.
Fire & Emergency Services
Future investment in the City’s Fire and Emergency Services will be determined according to the highest risk identified. The 2020-2030 Business Plan would implement, based on risk, both targeted public education programs and proactive fire and life safety inspection programs.
Risks were identified according to the 2019 Fire and Emergency Services Master Plan. Under the new public education initiatives, safety content will include “a proactive smoke alarm and home escape planning program.”
Operations staff in the field will also receive enhanced fire safety education, and since these personnel represent the “largest number” of front line staff, they will be able to “reach a large number of residents effectively and can support public education efforts.”
According to the Budget plan, an institution like U of T Mississauga would require annual inspection and resourcing to ensure compliance “with all applicable regulations and statutes”.
Other occupancy types, such as residential buildings, business, warehousing and business occupancies, have varied inspection requirements. To meet these needs, Fire & Emergency Services plan to develop an inspection program that implements inspection cycles based on key risks.
To further mitigate risks that can emerge from the way buildings are constructed, a fire safety engineer, and the use of improved disaster response software are being planned for. The Office of Emergency Management has been developing a “business continuity strategy” to develop major areas of service delivery, including the City’s emergency response in the event of a major disaster or disruption.
This plan will “guide the city’s response” and “ensure that city services can be restored quickly.”
Another factor affecting emergency response capabilities included the construction of new fire stations and optimizing fire service response time.
According to the proposed budget, precarious conditions that were identified include a high volume of calls, deficient response times and high-risk populations or occupancies.
The plan’s current goals intend to “have stations located so that the travel time for the first arriving vehicle from the station to the location of an incident can be four minutes or less,” for at least 75 per cent of the time.
To achieve this safety milestone, the plan includes constructing six fire stations over the next 12 years.