THE DEMOCRATIC REPORTER
Pages of Special Interest;
* Hazel McCallion - Mayor of Mississauga *
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National Post - July 31, 2006 Mon. - By Peter Kuitenbrouwer, email@example.com
Saving 'small-town' StreetsvilleUnder picture caption - Todd Ladner, born and still living in Streetsville says, "I never knew Streetsville was unique and rare until I looked around."
Photograph by : Photo by Peter Redman
It is one thing to grow up in a small town and move away to the big city. To grow up in a small town and stay there, and have the big city come and surround you -- with highways and subdivisions and malls on every side -- is something else altogether.
Todd Ladner is one of two children born in Streetsville to Eric and Mary Ladner. In 1959 the family opened Ladner's Clothiers on Queen Street South.
"I was born into a small town with open fields around it," Todd Ladner said this week at Ladner's, which he now owns. "We sold work wear, construction boots, work socks and coveralls."
Those farmers have now sold their land to subdivisions. The mayor of the Ladner's small town of Streetsville, Hazel McCallion, became in 1978 the Mayor of Mississauga -- a job she still holds.
Ms. McCallion opened the floodgates of development, transforming Mississauga into Canada's sixth-largest city. Today Ladner's sells city clothes: colourful dress shirts and made-to-measure suits.
Still, amid the sprawl of Mississauga, Streetsville survives as a small town. From the Queen Elizabeth Way, follow verdant Mississauga Road as it winds west and then north along the west bank of the Credit River, past huge homes and forests. Cross the tracks and the busy flourmill (now owned by Kraft). Arriving in Streetsville, you have no sense that you are in one of the most populated parts of Canada.
The tallest buildings here are the oldest ones. Proud St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church (1867) towers, in red brick with tall gothic leaded-glass windows; across the street is Streetsville United Church (1876). The Oddfellows Hall is under renovation and available for rent, not far from Streetsville Grammar School (1851 and 1877) whose lovely square tower is built of yellow and red brick. Parking on the main drag is free.
Among all the history, walk --yes, walk! In Mississauga! -- the village folk.
"It's got that small-town village feel in the city," said Nancy Whetter, a psychotherapist with her practice on Queen Street here, who popped in for salad at Town Talk Bakery. "I love it. I'm really outgoing. I really enjoy talking to people and knowing all about people's lives and their children. We'd like to retire here, if I could get a little bungalow."
How sleepy is this town? A sign on the bakery door reads, "Summer vacation: Sun. Aug. 6- Mon. Aug. 21, reopening Tuesday, Aug. 22, 8 a.m."
Next door at Aldo's Classical Barber Shop, in the Montreal House, c. 1821, the barber Aldo is napping in his chair. Aldo's, too, is "Closing for Holidays Aug. 1-14. See you again Aug. 15."
But Streetsville has new investors, too. The bakers introduce me to Anabella Goncalves, dressed in a vibrant red, black, yellow and white dress. She invites Ms. Whetter and I across the street to Streetsville Soundbar, into which she, husband Dino Goncalves and partner Manuel De Melo have sunk $174,000. The new fine dining and live music spot opens on Aug. 3.
"We're going to have free salsa lessons for the clients," enthuses Mrs. Goncalves.
"I'll definitely be here," promises Ms. Whetter.
Today nail and hair places have replaced Streetville's hardware stores; at lunch, Saucy bustles with yuppies lunching on "vine-ripened marinated Roma tomatoes, presented chilled, with foccacia toast points and crumbled feta, $7.98."
Even as the town thrives, Mr. Ladner worries for the future. Hedging their bets, the Ladners recently sold one of their three properties on Queen Street, the one housing the Midtown Bar & Grill. When Todd Ladner, 47, read my piece about downtown Woodbridge falling to condos, he contacted me for help to save Streetsville, where he lives with his wife, Elizabeth, an Air Canada flight attendant, and their three children.
"I'm a seventh-generation Canadian and I know nothing but small-town Canadiana," he says, dressed in a sharp shirt and tie, leaning back in a wood swivel desk chair much older than him. Small towns are nice places to live, he says.
"Yeah, man, my grandfather bulldozed the property that the [Vic Johnston] arena is now on, my father was a director, I played hockey there, and now I'm a director and my kids are playing hockey there. It doesn't get any better than that.
"I never knew Streetsville was unique and rare until I looked around," he adds.
These days Mr. Ladner attends meetings with Mayor McCallion at City Hall and keeps a wary eye on developers.
"There's definitely a group that would love to level the town and rebuild with condos and shopping centres," he says.
Given the Mayor's track record, he fears she'll side with the developers.
"Where do the politicians and the developers live?" he asks. "Where do they go at night? At the end of their lives, what do they want to be proud of?"
It's a good question.
The City of Mississauga's Historic Streetsville Urban Design Guidelines read, "As proposals for development within historic Streetsville come forth, each will be reviewed within the framework of [the guidelines], ensuring that development and change enrich the community as a whole."
Language, in short, so vague you can drive a Mac Truck -- or a condo tower -- right through it.
Better language would be: "Let's save Streetsville. It's beautiful and it works."
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