By Perry Lefko
Mississauga will forever remember Jim Tovey for his contribution to making the city a better place. City council convened on Jan. 17 to pay tribute to the Ward 1 Councillor who passed away suddenly on Jan. 15 at age 68.
He went from being a community activist with a ponytail to cutting his hair short when he became an elected politician in 2010 and wearing a suit and tie. It was his vision that helped create a master plan to reshape the land in southeast Mississauga by the lake. In years to come, the area will be a bustling area of business and residential property.
Council members remembered him as someone who loved to sing, dance, eat, call his fellow councilors “kiddo” or “dude,” make his own beef jerky, research on his IPad and give generously of his time. Mayor Bonne Crombie, who was informed at 12:30 a.m. on Jan. 16 of Tovie’s passing, said his loss will be felt by more than just his riding.
“It’s a huge loss for our city,” she said. “He was a remarkable person. He was in politics for the right reasons.”
Ward 7 Councillor Nando Iannicca said Tovey had a genuine disarming way of making people listen and come together.
“He got into our line of work in his 60s, and to think that somebody could come by this type of profession at that age and make the contributions he made is absolutely remarkable,” he said. “Through Jim’s efforts, we are generating new land on the waterfront.”
Ward 9 Councillor Pat Saito said Tovey left his mark on Port Credit.
“I’ve been around for a long time and I’ve seen lots of work done along the waterfront for years, but the vitality and excitement coming out of Port Credit wouldn’t have happened if it hadn’t been for the passion that Jim brought as a citizen and as a member of council,” she said.
Ward 2 Councillor Karen Ras, who sat beside Tovey at council meetings, remembered him for his profound influence.
“He took me under his wing and showed me the ropes,” she said. “He was always my father figure, my mentor. It’s not just what he did, but it’s how he made us all feel. He always made you feel welcome and warm. He had this big laugh. He was fearless in everything he did. He was informed. He was always educating himself. He never stopped learning and I truly loved that about him.”
Ward 3 Councillor Chris Fonseca spoke of Tovey’s spirit.
“Jim was always seeking, he was always striving and he always in,” Fonseca said. “He would always say, ‘I’m in kiddo, are you in?’ He could see the potential in everyone and everything. Jim had a way of convincing you to do things.”
Veteran Ward 6 Councillor Ron Starr praised Tovey as someone who was true to himself and his city.
“We’ve lost a great friend,” Starr said. “The city will be forever better in future generations because of Jim’s work.”