Will Residents of Clarkson-Lorne Park and Surrounding Area Re-Elect Karen Ras?

By:  Monica Kucharski

If dearth of candidates to challenge an incumbent for City Council seat qualifies as one red flag signalling that status quo for this seat is bound to continue after an election, then the bet is on that the residents of Mississauga’s Ward 2 (Lorne Park, Clarkson, Sheridan Homelands, Park Royal) will re-elect Karen Ras as their councillor come October 22.

Only two candidates —Naser Ansari and Mohammad Azam—both with still rather low profile—registered to challenge Karen Ras.  Ras was elected for the first time in 2014, in what was considered a tight race.  She beat out 6 other candidates to replace Councillor Pat Mullin, who stepped down after holding the seat for nearly a quarter century.

Ras’s background includes working in the Ontario Government in advisory roles to a number of ministers, and later, for Enersource Corporation as the Director of Corporate Relations.  She has served as Chair of the Mississauga Board of Trade and Vice Chair of the Credit Valley Conservation Foundation.

In 2014, Ras ran on a platform of sensible development with focus on community and transit.  In a large measure, her voting pattern and initiatives at City Council since the election, do reflect her platform.

For instance, Ras was one of only 4 councillors who voted against approving the City Park Homes proposal to build townhouses around the historical Old Barber House in Streetsville.  She also voted against the EV Royale-proposed eight-storey-91-unit condominium at the site of another historical building, the iconic Piatto restaurant in Mississauga’s 200-year-old Erindale Village.  “This is one of the few villages left in the city and this will totally ruin that,” said Ras at the planning and development committee meeting.

Still, Ras is not completely against development.  In response to Lorne Park residents’ petition protesting a proposal for semi-detached homes and townhomes built on a 1.3-acre parcel of land at 1190 and 1200 Lorne Park Road, Ras has been listening, but with a deliberative view:  “I’d like to see what the staff comments are going to be, but keeping in mind, looking at provincial policy statements with respect to growth and intensification, modest growth and intensification is encouraged,” she said. “The province does not intend for neighbourhoods to stay exactly the same and that’s the challenge.”

Ras has also shown to be a fiscal conservative.  In 2015, she questioned the amount of funding the municipality provides to a local crime prevention organization.  “Crime rates are at an all-time low so we have to ask if this is where we want to spend our tax dollars,” said Ras.

More recently, she raised some hard questions during the 2017 budget debates.  And when Mississauga council voted to approve spending of almost $400,000 on the Cavalia spectacle, she was the only councillor to ask where the money was actually coming from.

Ras may be best known for the successful campaign she spearheaded to ban door-to-door sales not just in Mississauga, but in all of Ontario.  Queen’s Park adopted her ban proposal on a provincial level.  “Thousands of Ontarians – whether young people or seniors, those who have lived here for years, or are new to Ontario – have gotten duped at the door by sales agents that mislead, misrepresent and use tactics of fear and pressure to sell people services they neither need nor want,” said Ras at the time.

It’s still too early in the race to say definitively who will win the council seat for Ward 2. But judging by the incumbent’s stable and grounded approach to municipal management, the name for Ward 2 Councillor may not need to be changed on the official City of Mississauga Councillors’ list after the October 22nd election.