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'Not going to wait': Mississauga mayor-elect says she's jumping into job before being sworn in

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Just days after Carolyn Parrish was elected the new Mayor of Mississauga, she says she’s “ready to go.”

“I’m not going to wait for the 24th,” she says, in reference to the date she’ll be sworn into office.

Speaking exclusively with CTV News from her Ward 5 council office inside Mississauga city hall, Parrish says she has firm priorities for the city.

“Item number one is housing,” she says. Adding, “I’ve already spoken to the commissioner and he’s pulling together what he considers, who he considers the best developers that build in Mississauga. We’re putting a task force together and [will] start the day after I’m sworn in.”

Right now she says Mississauga is built to its limits so her focus is on re-zoning. She points to over 160 acres along the new LRT line that is currently zoned for office. There is also a plan to add 22 high rise units to Heartland Town Centre. Parrish says she plans to see mixed use with affordable and rental units added. She’s ready to use a firm hand to do so.

“The strong mayor powers are really good for housing. And that’s the only time I would use them,” she says.

Parrish was a Liberal MP during the Chretien years and was most recently a councillor in Mississauga. The 77-year-old won the June 10 byelection by a comfortable margin despite a crowded field. Known for having a take charge attitude and speaking off the cuff, Parrish displayed that style on election night when she abandoned her written speech in favour of speaking from the heart, saying she is known for being both charming and forceful.

“I was telling the truth. If you look at my history I’ve stood up to a few bullies in my life,” she says. She goes on to say, “deep down inside I’m fairly charming and I like to be liked. I’m not one of those people who likes to push people around. I like people to come along with me.”

During her campaign Parrish decided not to participate in several debates after she was accused of making controversial remarks early on.

Speaking about the decision Parrish said, “There was a lot of manipulation going on with one of the campaigns. And I thought why am I doing this. They had maybe 20 of them set up and every night that they were doing those debates I was meeting 80 to 300 people in groups and that’s who I needed to meet."

In a departure from her predecessor Bonnie Crombie, who vacated the mayor's office to become Ontario’s Liberal Leader, Parrish says Mississauga is better off as part of Peel Region and looks forward to a better deal with the province having already spoken to Premier Doug Ford.

“He was very receptive to some of the points that I’ve been working on in my campaign,” she says. Adding “I can’t wait to get downtown and meet him with the other two mayors from the region, Patrick Brown in Brampton and Annette Groves in Caledon, and push that ahead.”

Parrish cites a recent report which says Peel Social Services are being shorted over $860 million per year – so a strong relationship with the provincial government would prove beneficial.

Parrish says she hopes to be able to point to her work in housing and social services as successes when the next election comes in two years. So she is relying on her mix of charm and force to produce a collaborative approach.

“You learn a lot by listening to other people. I used to be a high school teacher, and when you would have one of the kids do a presentation and the conversation that ensued, the kids learned more from each other than they ever did from the person standing at the front of the room. You just had to facilitate it.”

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