Mississauga should attract investments from various Canadian pension funds to pay for the city’s infrastructure, mayoral candidate Steve Mahoney proposes in his policy platform released Wednesday.
The former Mississauga MP said infrastructure has been neglected financially, not receiving its due as the city struggles to generate the revenue needed to maintain transit, roads and storm-water management.
“There is a shortfall, originally I was told, of $80-million and now it’s about $90-million a year in terms of maintaining and repairing and taking care of our infrastructure,” Mr. Mahoney said.
“We need to talk about some solutions in my platform, one of which is to look for investment partners from the very sophisticated pension funds that exist in the province of Ontario.”
Pension funds such those for teachers and health-care workers, and the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board regularly invest in public equities, real estate and infrastructure.
The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan owns water utilities and power-generation systems, relying on them for stable, long-term cash flows, according to its website.
“They’re currently investing in places like Australia and Chile, and I’d like to encourage them to invest here,” Mr. Mahoney said.
Mississauga passed a bylaw on Wednesday raising residential development charges by 54 per cent for houses and 33 per cent for apartments in an effort to generate more money for infrastructure as the city grows.
Mr. Mahoney said that is just one solution to fill the financial gap.
“We have to be aggressive in looking for these new opportunities to generate the revenue, given that our greenfield development is basically finished,” he said. “These kinds of high-priced issues cannot be put on the back of the property-tax payer.”
He said the federal government has to step up to help municipalities pay for infrastructure and Mississauga is relying on both the federal and provincial governments to help fund the proposed light rail transit system on Hurontario Street.
“I see no reason why a community like Scarborough can get six hundred and some million dollars from the federal government to build a three-stop subway and Mississauga gets treated like a poor cousin,” Mr. Mahoney said.
He would eventually like to see a subway extended into Mississauga’s city centre, but he said dedicated bus lanes or perhaps a light rail transit system on Dundas Street should be explored as temporary options to moving more people faster between the east and west ends of the city.
Transitway, a bus rapid-transit system alongside Highway 403 set to open this year, will help to ease that east-west ride, Mr. Mahoney said.
Other proposals in his platform include holding property tax increases within the rate of inflation, establishing a co-op program to help create youth employment and appointing a “Bureaucracy Buster” to help small and medium business cut through red tape and bid on city projects.
Councillor Bonnie Crombie, who is also running for mayor, said Wednesday that she is working with industry experts and community leaders but waiting to release her platform closer to the October election.
“It’s early days,” she said. “I think people really aren’t engaged yet and that’s really the only reason I haven’t.”