In the latest Metrolinx Between the Lines podcast, a look at the official naming of the light rail transit line linking Mississauga and Brampton, and a conversation with former Mississauga mayor, Hazel McCallion, to talk about having an LRT named in her honour.
This week on Between The Lines: A Metrolinx Podcast, host Matt Llewellyn speaks with Hazel McCallion. McCallion served twelve consecutive terms as mayor of Mississauga, from 1978 to 2014.
Earlier this week, it was announced the Hurontario light rail transit (LRT) project would be named after her.
Stay tuned – and thank you! – Between The Lines: A Metrolinx Podcast
- Stay tuned – and thank you!
- Episode 21 – Top 5 reasons customers get in touch with GO Transit customer service
- Episode 20 – #AMAwithAMA – Terrifying near miss video, what are sun kinks and Pride Month begins
- Episode 19 – Walking The Entire Eglinton Crosstown Line
- Episode 18 – #AMAwithAMA – GO & UP service changes, rail safety and your transit questions answered
Story by James Wattie, Metrolinx media relations advisor and Between the Lines podcast producer
Want to follow along while you listen? Here’s a full transcript for this episode of Between the Lines:
Between the Lines – Episode #9 full transcript
Hey, I’m Matt Llewellyn. Welcome to Between The Lines, A Metrolinx Podcast. Every week we’re tackling some tough transit-related topics and letting you hear from some of the brightest minds and leading global experts in the transportation field.
This week: The Hazel McCallion Line.
Earlier this week, former long-time Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion received quite the birthday present for her 101st birthday. In recognition of her more than 4 decades of public service, when it opens, the 18-kilometre Hurontario line will now bear her name. Hazel, you’ve had I would say more birthdays than most. I want to know, how does this compare? I’m guessing it has to be right up there.
Well, it’s quite unusual. You know, I’ve had many things named after me: a library, a section at the hospital, a couple of libraries, a school and you name it.
The city named their Central Library after me. But this is unusual naming me after a beautiful line, the LRT. So I consider it very, very special. Very special.
How did you first find out about this plan for the Hurontario LRT to bear your name? Who told you?
I think it was the Premier [Ford], but that was quite a while ago, you know. And then as time came closer, he mentioned it again.
We’re doing it. The province approached both the city of Mississauga and Brampton because it connects to Brampton, etc. And obviously, he must’ve got a positive response.
Anyway, here it is, and I think it’s very, very special. As I say, I have many things named after me, but this is exceptional.
I know that you’ve also been a big supporter of the Hurontario LRT project for many years.
What’s it like for you to finally see shovels in the ground and this really critical piece of public infrastructure actually becoming a reality?
Well, you know, the province is doing it. I remember contacting [former] Premier Wynne and I said to her, you know, and the province paid for a line in Toronto.
Now they got to pay for a line in Mississauga, and she agreed.
So it’s been it’s been built by the province of Ontario, which is great.
The city has major costs involved because we have to look at the road system that connects with the line to make sure that the adequacy of the road, our road system, is there to serve it.
So that’s our cost as the City of Mississauga. But the LRT has been paid for by the province. The building of it.
But to actually see it now come to fruition, to see shovels in the ground. It must feel special for you, especially for being at the helm for so long.
Well, yes, you know, we don’t have the major transit system that Toronto has, but this is our first mobile transit line because we’ve been operating with busses.
So it is a major step forward. I want to thank both the Premier and his staff, Minister Mulroney etc., for making this a reality. It’s now going to become a reality.
The naming of it, is secondary.
But the beginning of it is so important to the citizens of Mississauga.
We know it’s going to take a while to build it because it is quite a major line.
And it’s going up to Steeles Avenue. We were hoping it would go right through Brampton, but Brampton decided not to have it go through Brampton.
And I would say, at this time.
I think eventually it will go through. But right now, it’s being built to Steeles Avenue.
So Steeles Avenue will become a major hub because it ends at Steeles, and that’s going to become a major hub, which could affect the downtown Brampton area.
When we look to the future and you look to the opening of this LRT, how do you think that it’s going to affect the potential growth going forward?
Well, I think Hurontario growth is going to… there’s a lot of vacant land from Square One up to the overpass of the 401 and right up the Steeles Avenue.
There’s thousands and thousands of vacant acreage so that LRT line is certainly going to determine what happens along Hurontarioo Street.
It’s going to mean major development for Mississauga. Either office commercial, which is not too popular these days, but certainly residential, condominiums etc.
And you know, it’s going to have a major impact on the city.
What does it say to you then when you see the province and the federal government making huge investments in public transit in recent years?
Well, you know, I think you can’t have growth without transit. Transit is the answer. And light rail transit is definitely the answer.
Busses are fine. But I think we need a major light rail transit lines to make it possible.
And so I think we’re headed in the right direction.
With that in mind then, what do you think the future of transit will look like in Mississauga?
Well, I think that the LRT is only the beginning.
We need a LRT on Lakeshore to connect Oakville and all the municipalities along the lake shore. So Hurontario is only the beginning.
We need another one. And you know, the City of Mississauga, even when I was mayor, was thinking about Lakeshore, about an LRT along Lakeshore.
I want to switch gears a little bit. It’s been a tough few years as people try to get through the pandemic.
Do you have any words not just for the people of Mississauga, but for anyone who might be listening in terms of getting through this tough period of time?
Well, I think we have to… I think we have to accept the fact that it is a stressful time. No question about it.
But, you know, we’ve had stressful times before. We’ve gone through a World War and that was stressful.
I went through a depression in the thirties, which was extremely stressful.
So all these things, I think, prepares us to be prepared and to realize that there will be another pandemic down the road. There was SARS.
And now there’s this one and there will be another. I hope we’ll learn from this one.
You speak so passionately still about municipal affairs and politics. Do you miss it?
I do, you know, I have time to sit and watch TV and see what’s happening.
What have you been doing lately to keep yourself busy?
I’m on the airport board. I’m on three other boards, so I have a lot of Zoom board meetings and keep up to date.
I’m on a technology board, I’m on a medical board and I’m on the airport board snd I have a lot to do with the Triullium hospital.
You know, we’re building a new hospital and I’m very much involved in making sure that happens.
So even though you’re not the mayor anymore, you’re still very much involved in the city of Mississauga.
Oh, yes, it’s still… it’s my, you know, it’s my city. And when I think we took, my team, took it from a rural area and built it into the sixth largest city in Canada.
You got to be proud of what’s happened.
What’s next for you?
Next for me? I’m busy. I’m chief elder officer of Revera, a very large retirement, long term care company.
And as I say, I’m on three boards, so I’m busy.
Well, I want to thank you so much for your time this afternoon, and I really appreciate it.
And happy birthday.
Metrolinx is doing a good job.
Thank you very much. We appreciate that.
OK, take care.
Thank you. You, too.
That’s Between The Lines: A Metrolinx Podcast for this week. Thanks for your time. We know there are a lot of choices out there and we appreciate you checking us out.
Now, do you have a question that you’d like answered on a transit topic that you’re interested in hearing more about?
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James Wattie is our producer. He also edits each episode and handles our social.
And I’m Matt Llewellyn.