It’s time for a new champion to emerge.

Words by Don McVie

With Mayor McCallion playing out the last half of her final term in power, Mississauga faces a daunting leadership vacuum.

Madame Mayor has slain many dragons in the face of countless fiscal and political challenges. She has vanquished opponents. She has helped us transform cow pastures into homes and offices, factories and highways. Lots of highways.

She has spearheaded our evolution and fueled our potential by attracting people from every place and every culture on the planet. She has helped us forge a remarkable City and has done so without showing fear in the face of difficult challenges.

Mississauga’s vitality and future prosperity may hinge on our capacity to undergo a leadership metamorphosis into a post-Hazel reality. We have many educated, bright individuals with diverse backgrounds living here and we must harness their knowledge and integrity unless we wish to be led by those who, in spite of the world changing around them, simply refuse to confront the truth about economic, technical or legal constraints which directly impact our collective ability to make the best reality-based decisions.

As parents, most of us strive to teach our children the importance of standing up for their ideals and principles. We work to make them better. After being our leader and such a powerful decision-maker for so many years, the Mayor must likewise make an active investment in planning for her succession.

In recent years, City leaders, staff and citizens alike have made a wise investment in learning how to develop a shared vision and create consensus in large part through the public engagement process. We have crafted a popular Strategic Plan. We are looking forward. But only some of us are doing this on an active basis. Many more intelligent and reasoned voices are needed to provide well-considered insights.

Initiatives like Downtown 21, Living Green, Inspiration Lakeview and, most recently, Inspiration Port Credit have plenty of important component issues to consider, some of which involve the economics behind land-use planning that simply must not be ignored or pushed to the back of the visioning process. To deprioritize or ignore the real conditions may impede our ability to craft clever solutions. It is also a formula for disillusionment.

While focusing on the good news and optimism is a great motivator, our staff, elected officials and yes, even our ratepayer groups owe it to citizens to promote balanced consideration of the trade-offs during public discourse. People can handle reality if they are also provided with context.

Our leaders need to compel more effective collaboration where brilliant minds and accomplished citizens can be brought together and engaged by processes that include but are not limited to public forums.

Many of us are capable of and eager to contribute to the discussion, collaborate and find realistic solutions if it helps us to build a better and more sustainable place for ourselves and our children. Let’s insist our future leaders share that trait.