Food security, homelessness, environment among top local priorities for Mississauga–Lakeshore incumbent
Photos by Daniel Calabretta/Renderings from Metrolinx

Food security, homelessness, environment among top local priorities for Mississauga–Lakeshore incumbent

Food security, homelessness and the environment are three of the top priorities Mississauga–Lakeshore Liberal incumbent Sven Spengemann plans to address if re-elected on Oct. 21, he told The Pointer on Saturday at a campaign event. 

According to 2015 StatsCan data, the median after-tax income in Spengemann’s riding of Mississauga–Lakeshore was $33,970, while Ontario’s was $30,641. Despite being a relatively wealthy riding on a per capita basis, Spengemann said issues of food security and homelessness persist. 

“We do have people who sleep in cars. We do have people who are homeless. We have food security challenges, [people] who have all kinds of challenges, people with disabilities,” he said. “Looking out for the most vulnerable in our midst is always the yardstick by which we’re measured. I’m going to continue to invest myself in that.” 

Spengemann said the other big issue for him, particularly as it pertains to the riding’s residents, is the environment, “because we are a waterfront community.” Lake Ontario, the Credit River and Cooksville Creek are all within Spengemann’s riding, with part of Etobicoke Creek cutting through the eastern border as well.

“Climate change and plastic pollution are two very big issues that I’m going to champion for,” he said. How? Putting a price on carbon pollution, he said, “is a great start, and I think we’ve got the country behind us (notwithstanding the Conservative rhetoric)” 


Sven Spengemann (left) and Mississauga-Malton Liberal candidate Navdeep Bains speak during Spengemann's campaign launch this past weekend.


Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer was in Brampton North on Friday night, telling supporters in the riding that the Liberals’ carbon tax was “making everyday essentials more expensive” and promising, as part of his party’s strategy, to repeal it. Spengemann is running against Conservative Stella Ambler in the riding, as well as Cynthia Trentelman for the Greens and Eugen Vizitiu for the People’s Party. The NDP has yet to name a candidate in Mississauga–Lakeshore.

Spengemann also highlighted the Liberal plan to ban certain single-use plastics as early as 2021. “In the lead-up to that, I think there’s lots of space to work with retailers, to work with plastics’ manufacturers, to find alternative solutions, to show what actually works, to engage in some innovation, to talk to our schools, our universities [about] how to manage plastics, and basically solid waste generally, much better,” he said. “So there’s also policy questions around that I’m looking forward to becoming involved in.” 

In terms of addressing homelessness and taking care of vulnerable people within his riding, Spengemann said the focus needs to be on the nation’s social programs. “Keeping our social programs strong — like the Canada Workers’ Benefit, like the National Housing Benefit, like training … A lot of homeless people are not homeless because of lack of capacity, but because of lack of financial means.” The governing Liberals unveiled a homelessness program and strategy last year, which enabled municipalities to access $1.25 billion over the next nine years to tackle poverty. 

However, according to two reports released back in August by Employment and Social Development Canada, tracking homelessness between  2005 and 2016, there has been an “observable increase” in refugees being forced to use homeless shelters — some 2,000 in 2016, not factoring in places designated specifically for refugees. This was double the number who did so in 2014. 

“Investing in those programs, to get people back on their feet, is incredibly important. Keeping our food banks strong, making sure that we have shelter space and transitional housing for homeless people [are] also important,” Spengemann said. “It’s about investing. It’s about making sure that we put the money on the table that takes our country forward, and make sure that we monitor those investments, and make sure that they bear fruit.” 

Still on the topic of investments, Spengemann said he “would certainly advocate” for re-funding the original plan for the Hurontario LRT, including the three-stop loop around the Square One mall, along Rathburn Road, Duke of York Boulevard and Burnhamthorpe Road. Metrolinx announced back in March that the loop would be cut out of the plan in favour of a route straight up Hurontario Street. “I am behind that,” Spengemann said of going back to the original plan. “I think it’s important that we invest, and that we invest smartly. And that loop is part of the solution that’s being considered.” 


The top rendering shows the previously planned three-stop loop around the Square One mall, a portion that was cut earlier this year, with the updated route shown in the rendering on the bottom.


Andrew, a 32-year Mississauga-Lakeshore resident who did not want his last name published, said he was ambivalent about the LRT development. “I think the LRT, in principle, is a good idea. However, the problem I see with it is: are you going to get people off the roads? I’m not sure. It’s a lot of money. There’s all the construction and the pollution that comes with construction, we’re seeing that already.” He noted that the environment is one of the big election issues for him, adding that air quality is “deteriorating,” specifically in the Clarkson airshed, due to “too much construction” and development. Andrew said these factors have affected his health and that he has serious respiratory issues. 

He attended Spengemann’s event on Saturday but said that doesn’t mean he automatically has his vote. Andrew said his political leanings at this point are “a mix” between the Liberals and the Green Party.


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Twitter: @dancalabrett

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