Councillors at the Region of Peel have passed the final budget ahead of their re-election campaigns next year. The process saw no changes made to the document staff presented, with politicians essentially approving the budget bureaucrats, not elected officials, shaped.
Social services including affordable housing and help for those facing a range of financial challenges have once again been largely ignored by staff and council members.
It was an all-hands-on-deck approach from every level of government at the beginning of the pandemic. Funding was flowing to ensure the protection of the most vulnerable but now, as the public health crisis abates, Peel’s growing homeless population is relying increasingly on an organization doing vital work.
To continue their efforts, founders need sustained funding from the very governments pulling back.
The Ontario government reaffirmed its commitment to fund a widescale redevelopment of Mississauga Hospital, building a brand new facility on the Hurontario Street and Queensway site that will house more than 950 beds, while creating one of the largest emergency departments in the province. Trillium Health Partners, which operates Mississauga’s hospitals and a facility in Etobicoke, will also expand that health centre next to the Sherway Gardens mall by 350 beds.
Meanwhile, in Brampton, many are wondering why their city has once again been neglected by the provincial government, which is only providing a 250-bed expansion of Peel Memorial Centre for Integrated Health and Wellness, for non-acute care, despite a request for at least 850 new beds and the creation of an actual hospital.
Brampton’s business community is losing faith in City Hall after years of tax freezes under Mayor Patrick Brown and inexperienced CAO David Barrick. A damning presentation made by the Board of Trade to budget committee laid bare the recklessness of Brown’s tax freezes.
Business leaders highlighted the lack of basic planning, the late release of information and an air of incompetence emanating from Brampton, its council and staff.
A major GTA developer is using the incentive of a new divisional facility for the Peel Regional Police to skirt local planning scrutiny and apply for a Minister’s Zoning Order that could spring an entire Brampton subdivision.
In a letter to council that resulted in a unanimous request for the Province to waive the standard planning process, the developer, Argo, said time is of the essence to build a new police facility. Despite being front and centre in the builder’s pitch, the new police building would take up less than four percent of the total land that would be developed if Queen’s Park gives the green light to proceed.
The world is hurtling closer to climate instability, with many governments refusing to take the threat seriously. Last week Ontario’s Auditor General, Bonnie Lysyk, released an in-depth report laying out the lack of transparency and effort of provincial ministries tasked with reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Shortly after, a federal government watchdog released a similar report outlining the lack of climate action on behalf of Canadians. While Earth is heating faster than scientists predicted just a decade ago, the lack of action by politicians is making our future even more unpredictable.
Your hard-earned money is increasingly being spent on the political ambitions of Peel’s elected officials, pet projects that benefit private and personal interests, consultants and other contracted workers with direct ties to City Hall, and, most alarmingly, on the egregious salaries, bonuses and special perks such as lavish car allowances being handed to non-union staff, and some unionized workers, in a municipal sector with little accountability and oversight of the men and women who spend your money.
Juliet Jackson, the president of Peel CAS’ board of directors, has informed staff that controversial CEO Rav Bains has been placed on administrative leave.
Bains has been under scrutiny after a provincially-backed review pointed to financial concerns under his leadership of the organization. Two expenses claimed by the CEO in 2019 for personal success coaches are at the heart of inquiries being carried out by Jackson and the board.
Regional staff are plowing forward with Peel’s plan for the next 30 years, trying to appease those concerned about climate change and others demanding new land for homes. As cities sprawl closer to the beloved Greenbelt the accommodation of the housing market raises questions: will the Region say no to developers; and can smart growth built around transit realistically meet the demands of future home buyers?
Brampton City Council has voted to begin the process of expropriating land held by private property owners in the north of the city to help a group of developers that wants to build a massive subdivision. The highly unusual move could see government powers and public funds being used to benefit private interests.
City staff say it has never been done before. Councillor Harkirat Singh took the unprecedented step of moving the motion for expropriation to help the developers, but has not answered questions about why he did it.
Britannia Farm is one of Mississauga’s best kept secrets. The 200 acres sits almost at the geographic centre of the booming city, right off its busiest boulevard. But it remains closed off to the general public.
For years, Peel District School Board has owned the land, operating a few buildings on the property for educational purposes. But after decades of residents pleading for access to the vast greenspace in their backyard, Carolyn Parrish, the Ward councillor, has helped shape an inviting master plan to create a central outdoor destination in the city that was finished in 2016. Five years later, little movement on the project has taken place and this sprawling greenspace sitting at the heart of an urban transformation remains largely hidden from the residents of Mississauga.
Wednesday saw the Liberals, Greens and NDP stand together asking Ontario’s legislators to support a motion that would bring 850 beds, an actual second emergency department as part of a commitment to transform Peel Memorial into a full-service hospital and a third hospital to address the city’s ongoing hallway healthcare crisis.
But the majority PCs, including Brampton MPPs Prabmeet Sarkaria and Amarjot Sandhu, once again killed the NDP effort to end hallway medicine in Ontario’s fourth largest city.
The past few years have been devastating for cities carrying the brunt of COVID-19 financial losses into 2022.
Even with the pandemic still very much looming over it, Mississauga is continuing to invest in a greener future through various capital projects planned for the coming years.
The City of Mississauga has been aware of asbestos in some of its buildings since at least 2009.
Presented with documents obtained through a freedom of information investigation that show the City has neglected crucial responsibilities aimed at ensuring the safety of the public, staff admitted they failed to follow provincial regulations that demand regular inspections of the cancer-causing material.
The City of Brampton owns more than $6 billion worth of infrastructure, ranging from community centres to fire stations and roads. The City is supposed to save a growing pot of funds each year to be ready to replace these critical assets as they reach the end of their useful life.
However, under Mayor Patrick Brown and CAO David Barrick, Brampton has stopped saving. A key infrastructure levy has dropped from 2 percent to just 0.5 percent in 2022, threatening the very streets Brampton taxpayers walk on.
The city’s determined arts council is showing Mississauga creatives they can find success in their own community. It’s hard to carve out a space next to the country’s largest city, where artists in all genres are drawn from all corners of Canada, hoping to make it big.
But as the sixth largest municipality continues to boom, its evolving arts scene is gaining momentum.
The City of Mississauga is using most of its 2022 budget simply to keep the lights on, leaving little left over for new investments.
Conservative budgeting by staff who hope the frugal approach will allow them more funding opportunities in the years after COVID-19, will hopefully help residents hit hardest get back on their feet in the meantime.
The City of Brampton’s 2022 budget has promised minimal funding to help with climate change adaptation and mitigation. The document is short and extremely vague in its environmental commitments, with none of the game-changing plans its 2019 climate emergency declaration demands.
At the same time, Brampton continues to invest in expanding its road network and will not add any transit service hours next year.
In a Voir Dire decision, a judge said it has not been proven beyond a reasonable doubt Brady Robertson was impaired by drugs when he crashed his vehicle into the SUV of a mother and her three children, but she has not made a final ruling.
At the time, Robertson had eight times the legal limit of THC in a blood sample taken 45 minutes after the deadly accident. The defence is mounting a constitutional challenge against the current laws around impaired driving involving cannabis.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath is calling for the Peel Memorial expansion to convert the facility into a full-service hospital including an emergency department and will put forward a motion next week for a third hospital in Brampton.
Horwath says regardless of the city’s ability to raise its share of the capital, if elected next year, an Ontario NDP government will fund the Peel Memorial expansion to ensure it will be a full-service hospital and also build a third hospital in the city.
The trucking sector is the backbone of many critical industries in Canada — agriculture, retail, manufacturing, forestry — which rely on trucks and drivers behind the wheel to get their goods to market. But earlier this year, the industry was short 18,000 drivers.
Some drivers who are on the road, experts say, are often under-trained, under-paid, and overworked, putting others at risk while supply chains rely on a stretched labour force.
Brampton's frontline healthcare needs have been the key topic of public discussion in the city for years, long before the COVID pandemic. The organization tasked with providing clinical care to Brampton residents is calling on all corners of the community to support efforts to transform Peel Memorial into the city's badly needed second full-service hospital.
Young women and girls are trafficked in Peel at a rate that is more than double the national average.
Yet, for those looking to escape this heinous crime, there are few spaces to turn.
New data from the Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking shows there is a need to provide increased housing supports for survivors across the country.
Since at least 2012, an increasing number of staff have been leaving the City of Mississauga’s facilities and property management department — taking a significant amount of severance pay with them.
Figures uncovered through a freedom of information request show that, on average over the past nine years, 16 percent of the workforce has left annually. The trend raises concerns about the stability of a department that manages $2 billion worth of infrastructure and thousands of repairs every year.
The PC Party and Premier Doug Ford are betting two major highway projects, pushed by developers, will pave their way to reelection in June next year.
But with a public more and more attuned to a worsening climate crisis, will the environmentally destructive move and his misleading remarks be seen by voters for what they are—old ideas to fix a modern problem?
The City of Brampton’s 2022 budget proposal has been released, promising key investments and a 2.8 percent increase in the City’s share of the annual property tax bill.
However, the numbers, which may be crushed further down as Mayor Patrick Brown searches for a fourth consecutive tax freeze by hiking up other costs that hit taxpayers even harder, are grim reading for future Bramptonians. The budget has slashed more than $65 million that had been earmarked for buildings and infrastructure in the city, and is propped up by plans to issue more debt.
The waitlist for adult day care and senior dental work in Brampton, Caledon and Mississauga has ballooned over the past 18 months.
The number of seniors waiting for drop-in support at the Region’s long-term care homes shot up 50 percent between 2020 and August 2021, while there is a dental backlog of 5,000 people. The concerning trend follows a year where the plight of senior citizens was a major public issue, with little done to help them.
A charity is trying to plug the gaps international students too often fall through in Peel by preparing newcomers for the harsh reality of studying abroad, before they get here.
Moved by the deadly consequences of students being repeatedly failed by the system, three Canadians have set out to counter the rosy narrative peddled by education agents in India. Their charity, Sunoh, mentors youth and paints a realistic picture for prospective international students, often deceived by a predatory industry operating around post-secondary education in Canada.
After years of discussions on plans and expectations, Mississauga City Council approved the final master plan for Lakeview Village. The developers and residents have found some compromises along the way and have cohesively put together a vision.
As much of the design work begins, the stretch of waterfront offers architects and planners a once in a lifetime opportunity—to create a truly iconic space for all the world to see.
In 2018, the City of Mississauga requested bids for a specialist to investigate the condition of some of its key buildings. The report that was eventually produced paints a grim picture. It documents buildings that require expensive repairs from a City budget that is already under immense pressure.
Consultants highlighted key changes and repairs to be completed immediately and others that needed to be done in the near future. Mississauga has delayed many due to “competing capital funding needs across the City”.
Council members, residents and the Opposition NDP are voicing their frustration over just revealed plans for the second phase of Peel Memorial’s development, after Mayor Patrick Brown and Premier Doug Ford claimed a funding announcement by the PC government would finally see a second full-service hospital in Brampton.
Now, it appears the city’s taxpayers will have to pay $125 million for a local share of a project that will be far from what was promised.
Mississauga council members are set to vote on the future of the city’s eastern lakefront. Elected officials will weigh the concerns of their community against the demands of a powerful development consortium building Lakeview Village.
A resident-driven plan helped by a councillor who passed away has been quietly changed by the developers, whose employees and their family members donated thousands of dollars to Mississauga municipal election campaigns in 2018.
The Region of Peel’s ongoing housing problems were brought to the attention of councillors, again, through a harrowing tale of a woman who fled an abusive relationship.
With tears running down her face, she begged the region’s elected officials to find the strength to help people suffering in their own communities. Staff reports highlighted how dire the situation is and what Peel could do if council members finally start allocating sufficient funding.
Following the advice of its executive director, who has no experience in policing or equity and inclusion, the Peel Regional Police Services Board has decided against the formation of a committee that would have provided guidance around the force’s engagement with Black communities across Mississauga and Brampton.
Despite the advice of experts and community members the board has instead decided to form a one-size-fits-all diversity committee similar to others that have proven ineffective in some of Peel’s public institutions.
Brampton Council, which has ignored raising revenue for a local share of future healthcare expansion in the city, will contemplate a special tax to help pay for the Phase 2 construction of Peel Memorial.
A special levy is one of the options, says Councillor Pat Fortini, who is pushing for a responsible move by council to address Brampton’s ongoing healthcare crisis.
Juliet Jackson, the president of Peel Children’s Aid Society’s board of directors, has promised major changes to the organization’s workplace culture. Two reviews, one backed by the Province, found a “seriously troubled” workplace, where staff are marginalized by senior management.
Despite the dysfunctional culture, Jackson defended the lavish pay increases bestowed upon embattled CEO Rav Bains, who has seen his salary grow by almost $74,000 between 2013 and 2020.
The City of Brampton has submitted six requests for Minister’s Zoning Orders to supercharge the development timelines of several major projects. Four of the six requests were walked onto the agenda with no notice, stopping the public from having any time to consider the impacts they could have.
Mayor Patrick Brown says the sudden rush comes from a provincial deadline set by Steve Clark, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. It’s a claim the Province flatly denies.
With a budget largely locked into salaries mandated by police union contracts, Chief Nishan Duraiappah has the difficult task of managing the expectations of a public demanding changes to an archaic policing model, with the realities of protecting a growing community.
The 2022 document marks the third budget Chief Duraiappah has overseen, and there are signs his vision for change, heralded upon his arrival in 2019, could be starting to take hold.
In the sweep of Mississauga’s history, the relationship with the original stewards of the land has been similar to Canada’s—somewhere between criminal and non-existent. Only recently has there been a collective reckoning over our tragic legacy.
But the Indigenous peoples of our country, including our First Nations members, are still waiting for a meaningful reconciliation. In Mississauga, a minor hockey club still uses an insulting logo and name of a great First Nations leader more than five years after community members asked for a change.
A funeral home in Etobicoke has the grim responsibility of repatriating the bodies of international students who have died in Brampton, and elsewhere across Canada. International students arrive in Peel and other parts of the GTA full of hope, carrying the aspirations of an entire family, but more and more are being failed by a system that has a predatory dimension.
Community leaders believe the plight of these young people in Ontario has reached a crisis point.
After Mayor Patrick Brown cancelled the long-awaited Downtown Reimagined plan to pump life into Brampton’s withering city centre, a last-minute alternative should achieve some of the badly needed improvements, but many of the previously approved investments won’t be made.
The project means businesses will have to deal with disruptions for work that was supposed to have been completed by now. Many store owners already reeling from the pandemic will have to put up with construction to recreate the streetscape, but it could finally attract customers to a downtown that has struggled for more than a decade.
A movement is sweeping libraries across North America, as an increasing number of systems abolish late fees.
Brampton Library temporarily took part in the idea during the pandemic, scrapping its fines until the end of 2021. As the next budget season approaches, councillors and Brampton Library will decide if they make this equity-focused move a permanent feature.
The City of Brampton requested two Minister’s Zoning Orders at a council meeting last week, after asking for four at the end of September. If approved, the requests will cut the public out of key decisions about Brampton’s future.
One MZO would trigger the development of a master-planned community to house 12,500 residents at full build out. Similar projects in other cities have taken years of consultation and negotiation before approval.
The embattled CEO is facing questions about his use of public funds for personal development seminars aimed at improving his financial standing before retirement.
Bains was a regular client of two individual-success coaches and attended multiple workshops across North America. He even billed taxpayers for the flights to an event in Arizona, before paying the money back after a provincial probe was launched.
Anyone who attempts to cycle outside of hemmed-in residential areas across Mississauga knows the challenges in front of them. Often there are no bike lanes, poorly maintained roadways or giant boulevards teeming with commercial trucks and speeding vehicles.
Many residents want to join the cycling movement but barriers such as the postponement of infrastructure repair work are leaving Mississauga behind.
When residents riding Brampton Transit’s Queen Street buses change to the Toronto subway in Vaughan, they pay a second fare. A lack of integration between two municipal transit systems means they compete instead of complementing.
Now, a motion passed by Brampton Council could prove to be the first step to fixing the issue and allowing residents to transfer seamlessly between buses, subways and streetcars. GO Transit integration is the logical next step.
Regular and reliable train service from Brampton to Toronto and Kitchener could be revolutionary for the city. The commuter-rail project, which has been on the agenda for years, would unlock new labour markets and help convince residents to leave the car at home.
After years of slow progress, Metrolinx says it is continuing to push the project forward, despite the chaotic leadership inside City Hall.
Trustees at the Peel District School Board have been sidelined from their roles for more than a year, after they admitted they were incapable of tackling systemic anti-Black racism and other forms of deeply harmful discrimination within their organization. In their absence, the board has made strides toward equity that, in recent months, have slowed.
Now, trustees are lobbying publicly and privately to be returned to power, while simultaneously demonstrating an unwillingness to dismantle a harmful culture they helped create.
To curb enthusiastic speeders, Mississauga opted for automated speed enforcement cameras. After the first month with two of the 22 cameras already policing city streets, some drivers are being caught more than once. What more can the City do to make people slow down?
Early warnings that the Doug Ford government and his supporters in the development industry would have their way with Ontario’s protected Greenbelt, the world’s largest ecologically sensitive area covered by special conservation legislation, are coming to fruition.
On Tuesday, Caledon council’s pro-developer members paved the way for a provincial planning veto that would allow the construction of a 2.2-million square-foot warehouse in the Greenbelt without the usual local approval process.
The staff who work in Brampton’s communications department take home hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money every year. Public servants, their job is to protect the city’s hard-working residents, not their boss, Jason Tamming, recently fired from Niagara Region after his corrupt behaviour there.
With corruption allegations now swirling inside City Hall, they have worked against the public interest, to protect the very bureaucrats named in the accusations. The department, under Tamming’s control, has morphed into a spin-room, working furiously to protect those accused of wrongdoing.