Toronto

Which holiday will you celebrate — Hazel McCallion Day or Valentine's Day?

It took 96 years for former Mississauga mayor Hazel McCallion to get a day named after her. The retired politician celebrates her birthday today — and the first ever Hazel McCallion Day.

Tuesday marks the first official Hazel McCallion Day, after act was passed by Ontario Legislature in December

Even in retirement, Hazel McCallion attends community events in Mississauga, including the Canada Day parade in Port Credit. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)

It took 96 years for former Mississauga mayor Hazel McCallion to get a day named after her. The retired politician celebrates her birthday, Valentine's day today — and the first ever Hazel McCallion Day.

The day was made official after the Ontario Legislature passed Bill 16 — the Hazel McCallion Day Act — in December.

It will be marked with a big party at the Mississauga Civic Centre, and the city's clock tower will be lit up in red.

Justin Trudeau hugs former Mississauga mayor Hazel McCallion during a campaign stop in 2015. (The Canadian Press)

Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie called McCallion a nation-builder and wants the community to "celebrate the life and accomplishments of Hurricane Hazel — a larger-than-life public servant who shaped Mississauga's future," she said in a statement.

Amrit Mangat, Brampton South MPP, sponsored the bill, which was supported by all parties. She said McCallion is a "true example of tenacity, courage, fighting spirit and sincerity." She hopes the bill will make McCallion a role model for young women and inspire them to become leaders.

Hazel McCallion was first elected as mayor in 1978. (Mike Cassese/Reuters)

McCallion was first elected mayor of Mississauga in 1978 and won her 12th term in 2010. Shortly after that win, she announced she would retire after the end of her term.

Under her leadership, Mississauga's population more than doubled, making it the sixth-largest city in Canada. During her tenure as mayor, she was approached numerous times to run provincially and federally. But in 2014, McCallion said she never seriously considered leaving city politics.

"I've never regretted staying at the local level. You can accomplish more; you can be independent. Look at the city we've built," she said. "I would not be good at following the party line of anyone."