Bonnie Crombie calls Mississauga vote against fourplexes ‘disappointing’

Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie is moving to permit development that includes four-plexes. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

Ontario Liberal leadership candidate and Mississauga mayor Bonnie Crombie says she is disappointed in her council after it chose not to support a plan to allow more density.

On Wednesday, councillors in Mississauga narrowly voted down a proposal to allow four-unit houses anywhere in the city. The motion also called for four-storey homes to be allowed by default near rapid transit stops.

Crombie, who has taken a leave of absence from her position as mayor to campaign for the Liberal leadership, said it was disappointing that the motion narrowly failed.

“I think it’s time that we move past exclusionary zoning and introduce gentle density into Mississauga,” she told Global News, suggesting that councillors may change their minds in the “near future” after public consultations.

The housing changes narrowly voted down were outlined in a letter from the federal housing minister, instructing city hall to modernize its planning process.

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Minister Sean Fraser said in a letter on Oct. 3 that he was considering an application for federal housing dollars from Mississauga. He listed four-unit homes and four-storey buildings as two conditions to approve the money.

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“If you and Council can enhance your application by addressing these items, it will allow us to increase housing supply within walking distance to transit and facilitate more genuine housing options for the people of Mississauga,” Fraser wrote.

“This will put me in a position to approve your application.”

In a post on social media after the motion failed, Fraser said it was “very concerning.”

Crombie will return to her position as mayor in November ahead of the city’s annual budget. She said on her return, “all options” were on the table for more middle housing.

“Change is very difficult,” she said. “And as you can see, we have a couple of our councillors, who have difficulty as well embracing change. But I know they will do the right thing after consultation.”

The Mississauga mayor’s Liberal leadership rivals have criticized the city’s planning history and used council decisions under Crombie’s leadership to paint her as regressive on housing.

“Mayor Crombie’s decision to campaign for more housing, while blocking it in government, has been deeply disappointing and is the type of inconsistency that breeds cynicism,” Nate Erskine-Smith said in a statement released after the vote.

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He said Crombie had “a long history of opposing gentle density.”

The motion to introduce denser housing ended in a 5-5 tie and failed. Erskine-Smith pointed out that if Crombie had not taken a leave of absence, she could have broken the deadlock.

“As a candidate, I’ve introduced one of the most comprehensive housing plans that any of the candidates have introduced,” Crombie said.

Ted Hsu and Yasir Naqvi are also running for the Ontario Liberal leadership.

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