Hurricane Hazel @ 101

Ms Hazel McCallion, 101 years old, has been reappointed to the Greater Toronto Airports Authority board of directors. She was first appointed to the board in 2017. McCallion also sits as a chancellor of Sheridan College and a special advisor to the University of Toronto’s Mississauga campus.

McCallion the Mayor of Mississauga, I saw her the first time when she gave the graduation address to the students when our daughter Nidhi graduated from high school in 2009. She came driving her Chevrolet Malibu car bearing the licence plate ‘MAYOR1’. The graduation address was inspiring, motivating and would make any listener think. She peppered her address with wit and humour and made everyone laugh too. Immediately after delivering the address, she dashed off to the next high school in the city to address that school’s graduates. This proved that her nickname of ‘Hurricane’ Hazel suited her to the tee.

Hazel McCallion, has won every mayoral election contested in Mississauga since 1978. She is the longest serving mayor in Canada and has kept the city debt-free since her first term of office. McCallion began her political career in 1968 on the Streetsville municipality which she served as Chairman of the Planning Board, and then Mayor of Streetsville. In 1974, Streesville got incorporated into the City of Mississauga.

In her first mayoral election in 1978 she narrowly defeated the incumbent mayor. In 1979 she came into world news when a public health and safety crisis occurred during the 1979 Mississauga train derailment. A train carrying toxic chemicals derailed in a heavily populated area of Mississauga. A large explosion and fire ensued as hazardous chemicals spilled. McCallion, along with the Police and other governmental authorities, oversaw an orderly and peaceful evacuation of the entire city of 200,000 residents. Despite having sprained her ankle, she continued to hold press conferences and update briefings. There were no deaths or serious injuries during the week-long emergency.

Her reputation has hinged on her financial acumen and political pragmatism, with her no-nonsense style endearing her to constituents and alienating some opponents. In 1991 she became the first mayor to submit their city’s budget to public scrutiny.

Mayor McCallion is well known for her love of hockey. She played for a professional women’s team while attending school in Montreal. One of her friends and a hockey commentator Don Cherry, who joked during her 87th birthday that while 98 per cent of the city voted for her, he was looking for the remaining 2 per cent that didn’t. She never campaigned for the elections, she never put up posters, she never delivered any elections speeches, but she always got over 90% of the votes.

Mayor McCallion was born in Port Daniel of Quebec on February 14, 1921 and educated in Quebec City and Montreal. She then began her career in Montreal with Canadian Kellogg, an engineering and contracting firm, and was transferred to Toronto in 1942 to help set up the local office. Mayor McCallion remained with the company for 19 years. In 1967 she decided to leave the corporate world and devote her career to politics.

Hazel was married to Sam McCallion on September 29, 1951. Sam passed away in 1997. Hazel’s in-laws on her marriage to Sam gifted a piece of land in the village of Streetsville. She still resides in Streetsville and believes that one got to have a life filled with purpose and meaning and living her life in a Christian-like manner helped to motivate her and keep her energized. She does everything around the house herself like cleaning, grocery shopping, gardening, etc. She likes to be self sufficient and thinks that housework and gardening are great forms of exercise and keep her humble.

Her principles are grounded in the belief that a city should be run like a business; thus, she encourages the business model of governance. Her family’s business background, her education, and her prior career in a corporation prepared her to approach government with this model.

Hazel’s Hope, a campaign to fund health care for children afflicted with AIDS and HIV in southern Africa is her charity initiative. Hazel became the poster girl for longevity and good health for Trillium Health Centre. On her 90th birthday, Dr. Barbara Clive, a geriatrician, marvelled at Hazel’s good health: “At 90 her gait is perfect, her speech is totally sharp and she has the drive to still run this city. She’s the poster child for seniors”.

On her 100th birthday she said “My mom or dad couldn’t afford to send me to college or university. So I had to do it without that additional education. It’s the people you meet along the way, there’s always people to help you along the way if you’re willing to accept the help.”

In December 2014, Mayor McCallion stepped-down and people of the city remain ever grateful to her. What an amazing woman, who has given her life to our great city. What an inspiration for all women and for those of a certain age, that they aren’t done yet and can still live happy very productive active lives. To the generations coming up behind, to work hard and make a name for oneself and make a difference.

After delivering her annual State of the City speech, her last as mayor, on September 23, 2014 Mayor McCallion had some advice for anyone who wanted to fill her coveted seat in Mississauga: “Don’t make promises you can’t keep. You have got to be honest with people. You can’t make promises when you haven’t got a hope to fulfill them.”

Thank you Hazel for all your hard work, commitment and dedication and to prove that age is only a number – even past hundred.

Tap Water Vs Bottled Water

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Our family friend, Major Shona George, during a walk around the city, was fascinated by a poster he found next to a drinking water fountain. He immediately clicked the above photo.

Tap water is regulated by Health Canada and the provinces and territories. The Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality, spell out the maximum levels of potentially harmful substances that are allowed in drinking water. Municipalities test their water sources constantly to make sure that they are within these limits.

Unlike bottled water, the cities test their water quality on a daily basis. Toronto tests water samples every four to six hours and checks for more than 300 potential chemical contaminants. The results of this monitoring are generally easily accessible to the public, often on city websites or on request.

In Canada, bottled water is not subject to the same guidelines because it is classified as a food and falls under the Food and Drugs Act. Aside from arsenic, lead and coliform bacteria, the act does not set limits on specific contaminants but says simply that food products cannot contain ‘poisonous or harmful substances’ and must be prepared in sanitary conditions.

​Bottled water producers insist they perform a comparable degree of testing on their water, as do municipalities, but the results do not have to be made public — although some companies post sample water quality analyses online. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) inspects and takes enforcement action “as required” if it becomes aware of a potential food safety hazard “via a complaint or other means.” There have been efforts to introduce stricter bottled water guidelines, but these have been stalled for years, largely leaving the industry to police itself.

Coca-Cola​ and PepsiCo, two of the biggest manufacturers of bottled water, have come under fire in recent years for not revealing that popular brands like Dasani and Aquafina are essentially treated tap water. Bottled water labels in Canada do have to specify how the water was treated and whether it contains fluoride and must list any added ingredients. Mineral and spring water must specify the mineral salt content while water that has had the bulk of its minerals filtered out must be labelled “demineralised.”

Some brands specify an expiration date, although this is not required, and there is disagreement on whether water — if kept sealed and stored in cool conditions that don’t promote the growth of bacteria — can ever “expire.” The industry has said bottled water has a shelf life of two years, but Health Canada suggests replacing water after one year while the US Food and Drug Administration considers it to have an indefinite shelf life.

As more consumers sip bottled water, fewer of them ingest enough fluoride to prevent cavities. According to the American Dental Association, if bottled water is your main source of drinking water, you could be missing the decay-preventive benefits of fluoride.

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It is really hard to recycle plastic bottles. Most of these plastic bottles are not recycled and end up lying stagnant in landfills, on our streets, on the sidewalks, in parks, front yards and rivers. They end up discharging heavy toxins into the environment and also clogs up the sewage lines. They prove obstacles to the natural drainage of rainwater and causes stagnation. Stagnant water causes many germs to multiply and is an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes.

These inputs prompted me to study the municipal water supply system in our City of Mississauga, which comes under the Peel Region and investigate the claims of the Government of Ontario.

Lake Ontario is the source for the Peel Drinking Water System. The lake water enters the intake, located about 2 km from the lakeshore and is treated at the treatment facility at the pumping stations.  As the water enters the treatment facility, it passes through travelling screens. These screens prevent items such as fish, sticks and aquatic plants from entering the treatment facility and damaging equipment. Water is then treated by ozonation, reverse osmosis and carbon filtration. Prior to supply into the water supply system, water is disinfected by chlorination for inactivation of bacteria/ disease causing organisms and Fluorine is added for better dental health and to protect teeth from cavities

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The water is then supplied through pipes, buried 10 feet below to prevent freezing in winter. Water in the pipelines is maintained at about 100 psi. There are three water towers in the city which are also connected to the pipeline. During low water usage hours, the tanks on the water towers get filled and they discharge into the pipeline when the pressure falls due to high usage during peak hours, thus maintaining the optimum pressure. There is thus no need for overhead tanks at the end users’ home as the city guarantees 24 hours water supply at optimum pressure.

As the water in the pipelines is maintained under high pressure all throughout, there is hardly any chance of muddy water from the ground getting into the pipes. Entry of dirty water or sewage into the pipeline is possible only when there is intermittent water supply and there is a crack in the pipe. The water in the pipe leaks into the soil around when under pressure. When the water supply is shut down, the pressure in the pipeline drops below the pressure of water in the soil, forcing muddy water into the pipeline through the crack. When water supply is restored, this muddy water in the pipes reaches the consumer. Thus one often finds muddy water flowing down for a few minutes when water supply is restored.

This is why the claims of the Ontario Government that the best drinking water is the municipal tap water, stand fully vindicated.

“If there were water
And no rock
If there were rock
And also water
And water
A spring
A pool among the rock
If there were the sound of water only
Not the cicada
And dry grass singing
But sound of water over a rock
Where the hermit-thrush sings in the pine trees
Drip drop drip drop drop drop drop
But there is no water”
—-TS Eliot (The Waste Land)