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Mississauga News - Apr 28, 2006 - By Louie Rosella.
It's time for a driver, mayor concedes
Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion admits it's time to get a driver.
After years of resisting the advice of family, friends and city councillors, the 85-year-old mayor said in an interview today she should no longer be driving everywhere on her own.
The decision came following Wednesday night's accident when McCallion crashed her car into a sign post while travelling southbound along McLaughlin Rd., near Britannia Rd., on her way home from a Peel Regional Police function.
Although the airbags deployed and the front-end of her Buick was severely damaged, a visibly-shaken McCallion walked away from the crash uninjured.
On her way back from a police awards ceremony, the mayor said she was taking a business call on her hands-free cell phone when the crash occurred, but insists that had nothing to do with the collision.
"I took my attention off the road, simple as that," she said.
Peel Regional Police are investigating the circumstances surrounding the crash and will be formally interviewing the mayor.
Police will be looking at a number of factors, including the mayor's speed, wind and road conditions.
When asked if the accident fueled her decision to consider a driver, McCallion said, "I'm not sure. It's been more the support and concern of citizens that made me go that way."
McCallion said she and City of Mississauga staff will consider having a driver take her to work-related functions and other events that come with the job.
"It would make me very uncomfortable to have someone come and pick me up at home in the morning and wait on me all day and night. That would bother me," she said. "But having a driver available at work is a good idea. I wouldn't mind it if City staff would basically look at my schedule for the week and decide along with me, which events I should be driven to."
McCallion said she received a call from Brampton Mayor Susan Fennell after the accident. Fennell's staff has a contract with a driving company that is on-call when needed, to take the mayor to various events.
"That's something I would be comfortable with," McCallion said, adding there are safety risks with driving to and from places alone at night. Council has always been very supportive of me having a driver."
McCallion also pointed out that with a driver, she can get important work done on the way to functions.
Asked whether she's concerned she may be charged with a Highway Traffic Act offence or get a ticket for Wednesday's accident, McCallion said "it's entirely up to the police. I won't shy away from paying a fine if I've done something wrong."
McCallion said she paid an $85 fine three years ago after a Peel Police officer ticketed her for making an improper left turn in Streetsville.
Ontario's Senior Driver Renewal Program requires drivers aged 80 and over to complete a vision and knowledge test every two years. It's a test the mayor says she passes every time.
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