The cheerleading out of City Hall this past week, about the latest “plan” to do great things, is another example of leadership that seems out of touch with reality.
As a $160 million downtown project keeps changing shape, with the public in the dark about what exactly their money is being used for, the classic scene from the 1976 movie, Network, comes to mind: “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not gonna take this anymore!”
A new book by urban planner Joe Berridge suggests immigration is the key to creating urban spaces that come as close to perfect as possible. If that’s true, our rapidly expanding municipality will be able to capture the energy of its transformation and the dynamism of its people, once we get past the growing pains.
High hopes have been pinned on the Centre for Innovation and the collaborative space it would provide entrepreneurs. But it is becoming clearer that the vaguely defined innovation space that was supposed to be a direct collaboration with the now cancelled Ryerson University downtown campus, will be something much different than what was originally envisioned. Questions are being raised about why council approved $100 million in the 2019 budget for the project without knowing what the plan is. Meanwhile, the library board is raising concern that the public has not been properly consulted on the changing plan.
At Wednesday’s committee of council meeting, councillors addressed some key details about the city’s hopes to build an LRT into downtown.
While questions about its design are being addressed, council and staff are doing the work in blind faith, as the project likely won’t move forward without funding from higher levels of government, which Mayor Patrick Brown is set to start lobbying for.
Anti-Muslim agitator Kevin Johnston has been ordered to pay $2.5 million in damages regarding derogatory remarks against restaurant owner and philanthropist Mohamad Fakih.
The “hateful Islamophobic remarks” in a 2017 video outside a Paramount restaurant in Mississauga were only the latest in a series of anti-Muslim activities by Johnston.
The long-touted but vaguely defined Centre for Innovation planned for downtown Brampton might end up being a lot different from what the public envisioned. Wednesday’s committee of council agenda shows that more than 81 percent of the usable floor space will be dedicated to a central library.
The initial $100 million investment in the project may balloon to as high as $160 million as staff are seeking $30 million to add five floors to the building and another $30 million for a “transit hub” extension to the Brampton GO terminal.
Death and perseverance.
They’re part of the story of Brampton Centre MPP Sara Singh’s election victory.
But there’s an even deeper story to what drew her into politics, and what fires her up at Queen’s Park when it’s time to speak for the Opposition as the NDP Deputy Leader.
A $1.8-million Peel Region program will provide a one-stop hub for services for victims of human trafficking, plus emergency shelter and long-term transitional housing spaces to help them get back to a normal life.
Providing these supports is especially critical in Peel, which for reasons of geography has become a hotbed of sex trafficking in Canada.
The region hopes to get some financial support from Queen’s Park, but it’s uncertain if the current government is likely to provide it.
Do Brampton libraries hold the answers to the woes of a growing city?
The business model and the offerings have changed, but libraries still perform a vital role as community hubs, despite Brampton’s historically underfunded system.
A central library downtown could just be part of a solution to more than one problem.
The Michael Fenn-Ken Seiling travelling road show criss-crossing the province and discussing possible changes to the regional governance model, touched down in Brampton this past week. Is it simply window-dressing for the Ford government or will municipalities that hold the lion’s share of political leverage with the PCs (86 percent of the party’s seats are outside Toronto) stand up to the Premier on a range of issues such as allowing development in The Greenbelt, environmental protection and others that will impact our province for decades?
The Ford government is trafficking in a new-old way of doing business that encourages sprawl and will further fill our streets with grinding gridlock. Brampton's car-dependent past and present looks to have a dicey future if unfettered growth spills into our streets. Can the city become more transit friendly, or should we simply admit the obvious: we are in love with our cars?
On a day when City Hall is filled with discussion about the future of ‘active transportation’, many wonder if Brampton really wants to change.
After much doubt about the quality of a $325,000 Deloitte report, it appears that Ernst & Young’s council-mandated follow-up work on the cost of potential changes to regional government is likely to miss the province’s May 21 deadline for submissions on the regional review. Peel Chair Nando Iannicca was once again on the hot seat, as councillors voiced frustration over the bungling of the outside consulting work.
Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown suggested that the controversial Deloitte report be the submission if Ernst & Young’s comes in too late. Mississauga councillors were having none of that idea.
The British writer and director best known for Bend it like Beckham has focused her career on exploring the dualities of identity experienced by the South Asian diaspora in Britain and, by extension, around the world.
Her latest film, Blinded by the Light, kicked off the International Film Festival of South Asia Thursday. It tells the story of a Pakistani-British high school boy in the ‘80s, frustrated by forces looking to define him, who finds salvation in the music of Bruce Springsteen.
The movie’s message finds an audience in Brampton where a huge South Asian diaspora can identify with the struggles of her main character, Javed.
Michael Fenn and Ken Seiling, Premier Doug Ford’s advisers on the regional review, were at Peel Region council chambers on Wednesday to get resident feedback. While Caledon and Mississauga were represented, Bramptonians were silent.
Even though a tele-townhall conducted in Brampton last week showed that there were strong opinions on the review in the Flower City, no one at the meeting voiced an opinion on Brampton’s behalf.
Decreased funding for important services such as public health and early years childcare could cost Peel Region residents $45 million.
Peel’s director of business and financial planning says that amount alone amounts to a 4.1 percent hike, on top of current tax projections, just to keep services at current levels.
After a radical suggestion from Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown to suspend prisoner transport to grab public attention, Peel council took a milder approach: an advocacy campaign to inform the public about the effects of the province’s actions.
The International Film Festival of South Asia, the largest of its kind in North America, is set to kick-off this Thursday. Sir, a film that challenges entrenched attitudes about women in India and the staggering treatment of its underclass, set the tone for this year’s event when it pre-launched the festival.
It’s about a maid, or servant, in India and her place within the rigidly regimented caste system that girds the world’s largest democracy, where about 900-million residents are members of historically marginalized groups.
The groundwork is being laid for another showdown over the regional review in Peel. Advisers to the minister of municipal affairs, Ken Seiling and Michael Fenn, will be meeting with residents today in Brampton at Peel Regional council chambers to get their take on the review.
Meanwhile, Mississauga and Caledon have taken steps to make sure their side of the argument is known to the public, with our neighbour to the south demanding its independence and the one to the north pleading for the region to remain intact. One outlier is Brampton, as the city seems to favour the status quo of keeping Peel as is, but hasn’t clearly stated exactly what it wants for the future.
Peel Public Health is already trying to do more with less, receiving lower per-capita provincial funding than many other public health units even before the PCs’ recently announced budget changes.
But its record of accomplishment during 2018 — thousands of vaccinations, inspections to prevent water-and foodborne illness, dental screening for children, addiction mitigation programs and much more — could be threatened by a $20-million loss of support under the Doug Ford government.
Inevitably, the burden for continuing these essential services for the public good will fall back on the municipal taxpayer.
Peel Police have failed to win their bid for $3.72 million from the National Crime Prevention Strategy, money intended to pay for a program to divert at-risk youth away from violent crime.
All five of Brampton’s MPs had signed on to the proposal with a letter of support, given the rise in violent crimes by young offenders over the past several years.
The reasons for the denial by Ottawa — and the details of the plan itself — remain murky.
The provincial housing plan has preserved development charges for water infrastructure, maintaining the long-standing principle that “growth pays for growth.”
That was one piece of good news last week for Peel Region, where leaders feared the provincial PCs were looking at making ratepayers cover the cost of new infrastructure in their water bills, rather than the development industry.
That would have cost the typical homeowner more than $500 a year.
Emily Brown came into some notoriety when she vented her frustrations with the provincial government on Facebook.
Her post, now shared over 4,000 times, talks about how she was one of 193 high school teachers in the PDSB to be declared surplus, meaning she may not have a job in the next school year.
The recent news came while she’s on maternity leave and was looking forward to going back to work in the fall.
A sparse crowd at Saturday’s City Hall gathering to talk with the mayor and councillors about the future of Brampton, doesn’t bode well for those hoping to put pressure on the PC government ahead of its decision on the future of Peel Region.
The afternoon event inside council chambers could have unified residents who don’t want Premier Ford to break up the region, possibly forcing Brampton to become part of one super-city. But the small turnout raises questions about the level of engagement over a decision that could drastically alter the city’s future.
Brampton’s confidence and civic pride has taken a beating over the years and manifested itself a half-decade ago when the city killed a chance to host the Pan Am Games. Now is the time for citizens to show how bullish they are on this city before it’s too late. The chance to boost Brampton might come at today’s gathering at City Hall.
Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark has introduced a sweeping new framework for increasing the supply of housing in Ontario.
But critics are sounding the alarm, saying a return to OMB rules included in the plan would be a gift to developers and encourage sprawl.
A plan to boost the building of secondary suites is being welcomed, amid concerns that the vague framework lacks assurances of safety and legal registration, a longstanding issue in Brampton.
Ontario’s second-largest school board, the Peel public board, expects per-pupil funding next year to come in at nearly $1,000 less than the provincial average.
While it’s tricky to compare apples and oranges among the province’s widely varying school districts, that still astounds PDSB chair Stan Cameron, who points out that with rapid growth, “We need every penny we can get.”
After decades of seeing problems with the school funding formula go uncorrected, educators’ woes are only growing under the Doug Ford government’s cost-cutting and teacher-slashing budget.
City councillors heard a brief update this week on what’s happening with Brampton’s fledgling Action Committee on Innovation and Post-Secondary Education.
The direction the committee will take is still unclear, according to Paul Aldunate, of the city’s economic development office.
But for now the city is maintaining its focus on Algoma University's expansion and the “three pillars” of an ambitious plan with Ryerson after the province yanked $90 million in funding for a downtown university campus last fall.
A third-party legal opinion obtained by the City of Mississauga contends that Peel Region staff and Chair Nando Iannicca violated the region’s own bylaws by hiring two companies to review the financial implications of changes to regional government.
Splitting the work kept the cost of each bill to less than the $250,000 threshold over which any procurements need council approval.
But Peel’s chair and CFO say the scope of the work was different and insist that the controversial Deloitte report — which argues the region is better off financially staying as-is — was properly commissioned at the staff level.
Marisa Mascioli fears that the procedure that saved her vision decades ago won’t be available to a family friend with the same condition today — one reason she took part in Tuesday’s rally at Queen’s Park.
There were many more personal stories being told, including many from Brampton seniors and paramedics, as the lawn in front of the Legislature was filled for the second time this month with citizens protesting cost-cutting moves by the Ford government.
Major concerns include plans for consolidating public health units, local healthcare agencies and paramedic services — and fears that it’s all leading to privatization.
The Peel Police Services Board has approved $24,000 to hire five more youth as part of a summer program aimed at turning at-risk young people toward a more positive path in life.
The eight-week Youth in Policing Initiative will give 25 teens a chance to get mentoring and encouragement to think about policing as a career choice.
It’s the second year the board has topped up funding for the provincial program, following a rise in violent crime perpetrated by young offenders.
Mayors Patrick Brown and Bonnie Crombie have weighed in on a statement made by the chair of the Large Urban Mayors Caucus of Ontario, that argued looming provincial cuts are “downloading by stealth.”
The Peel mayors highlighted the burdens being placed on property taxpayers as a result of reduced provincial funding for local services such as public health, policing, libraries, childcare and more.
The provincial budget deepened the pain by reneging on the previous government’s promise to double the cities’ cut of the provincial gas tax.
It appears that the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board will be having its overall funding allocation reduced by the province for the coming school year.
The Peel District School Board, with its growing student population, will be seeing a slight increase in overall grants but is not immune from cuts, either.
Meanwhile, the first salvo in what might be the most contentious round of bargaining in decades, has been issued by the union that represents high school teachers.
Announced changes to healthcare and social services have cast a cloud of uncertainty over Peel Region’s public health and human services programs. At last Thursday’s regional council meeting, CFO Stephen VanOfwegan delivered his interpretation of the provincial budget and its local financial implications.
According to VanOfwegan, Peel could lose as much as $20 million for its social safety net, public health unit and affordable housing. One small gain might come through provincial funding for dental care for low-income seniors.
An unscientific poll conducted in conjunction with a recent tele–town hall that attracted almost 5,000 callers found two-thirds of respondents don’t want to see Peel broken up, or amalgamated into one mega-city.
But the debate over the regional government’s future is plagued by a lack of reliable information as to the true costs and benefits of either option. Residents will get their chance to give the Doug Ford government’s representatives an earful on May 8.
An extra $378,000 from Ottawa, on top of $1.4 million already committed for housing support in Peel, is sorely needed in a region with a serious shortage of shelter beds and an ambitious but underfunded plan to build more affordable, rental and higher-density housing.
Peel will receive $10.5 million in homelessness funding from the federal government’s Reaching Home plan over the next five years.
With the clawback of the provincial gas tax increase, Brampton’s transit projects stand to lose out on as much as $30 million over three years in funding allocations from the Government of Ontario. In 2017, the Liberal government promised a doubling of the gas tax, but Doug Ford is planning on kiboshing it.
This year, Brampton has received about $13 million in gas tax transfers from the province, the fourth largest allocation out of 107 municipalities.
Love & Courage: My Story of Family, Resilience, and Overcoming the Unexpected is Jagmeet Singh’s new book. While it reveals some deeply personal and dark secrets, it leaves readers wondering why he wants to be our leader and how his life’s experience might make him the right person for the job.
Thursday’s Peel Region council meeting continued the debate over a controversial report commissioned by Peel chair Nando Iannicca that suggested keeping the region together would be much cheaper than splitting up.
Mississauga councillors questioned the credibility of the report after it became clear the auditors had not been given access to the cities’ own figures, suggesting that consultant Deloitte was working with incomplete numbers.
A $1.6-billion “attrition allocation” may temporarily ease the transition to much higher class sizes in high schools and the loss of thousands of teaching positions.
The extra money, announced by Education Minister Lisa Thompson on Friday, could save the Peel school boards from laying off some teachers this year if there aren’t enough retirements.
But it won’t ease the pain of losing electives for Peel students, some of whom have already been told some courses they picked for next year are no longer being offered.
Staff were meant to come back Wednesday with a report detailing how to proceed with the now halted Downtown Reimagined streetscaping project, which was cancelled in December to give staff time to consider the implications of the newly revived LRT Main Street route and other issues. The report is now expected to come forward on May 15.
Meanwhile, the projected cost of the revitalization is expected to climb because of the need to deal with underground diversion channels in the downtown.
21-year-old Navindra Sookramsingh’s heartbreaking plea to find the driver who struck him in the wee hours of St. Patrick’s Day marks an unusual outreach for Peel police for community help.
The Brampton man had been walking home and was in the southbound lane of West Drive when struck by a cream-colored Toyota Corolla.
Sookramsingh, who suffered numerous internal injuries and is unable to walk or move his hands, begged the driver to come forward to show “mercy” and accept responsibility for the accident.
The region’s only provincially designated Sexual Assault Centre is the second-lowest funded centre in the province, despite its success in helping more than 22,000 victims of sexual assault and related crimes, such as human trafficking, recover.
A 21 percent cut in provincial funding last July, only partially restored this month, has made Hope 24/7’s work all the more difficult in the #MeToo era, where more victims are feeling empowered to come forward. Mayors Patrick Brown and Bonnie Crombie are appealing to the province to restore full funding.
An internal email obtained by The Pointer shows that Peel Region staff are warning council members of funding cuts to Human Services, the department responsible for administering the provincial social safety net, which is overseen by Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services.
This comes on the heels of an announcement by the Ford government that it will cut $1 billion in provincial funding over three years from social services and potentially download more of these costs to municipalities.
Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown is saying there’s no truth to allegations in recently unsealed court documents published in a story Tuesday by The Globe and Mail.
The documents allege Brown asked for a $5,000 donation for his then-girlfriend, Genevieve Gualtieri, and $2,000 for another individual.
It’s also suggested that Brown was being pressured by the Indian Consulate not to allow a candidate to run in the troubled nomination race because of family ties to alleged Sikh extremism, something Brown says “never happened.”
Brampton North MPP Kevin Yarde is part of the first organization of its kind at Queen’s Park.
The five-member group hopes to shed light on issues that particularly affect Black residents and other communities that have been negatively impacted by outdated, narrow-minded policies in Ontario, especially in areas such as policing and education.
The benefits of their perspectives, Yarde says, extend to all residents in the province.
Today is Earth Day, an odd concept to many. Is there any day or minute or second that isn’t entirely hinged on the existence of our planet? The clock is ticking on how we will respond to the ever-increasing challenges facing a 4.5-billion-year-old creation that has been ravaged by the excesses of man.
It’s been 49 years since the first Earth Day and 49 years since Joni Mitchell’s song was released.
Unless we make clear choices and insist on leaders who face up to the challenges now at our doorstep, our legacy will be mud with future generations. It’s past time we re-created a “clean and green” model – for government, business and day-to-day life – moving forward.
The forces behind a new clean and green economic model for living are all around us. This movement may be unstoppable, as reminders of climate change – devastating storms, rising temperatures and sea levels, the extinction of species – grip our consciousness. We are now at a planetary crossroad. For those concerned about the earth’s future, there is hope. The movement is gaining momentum. And the profit motive for a green economy is quickly gaining traction around the world.
A report by Grosso McCarthy Inc. and Bob DeShane & Associates for the province appears to be providing a blueprint for how the governing PCs will transition to a privatized, for-profit model of delivering ambulance services.
Ontario’s 53 ambulance service centres will be consolidated to 10, a move that aligns with the report’s recommendations. The paramedics union is warning of dire consequences of a “Wild West” American-style paramedic service. Premier Doug Ford has stated EMS service will not be impacted and no paramedics will lose their jobs.
Months after a heated exchange between Peel Region councillors and staff over the slow pace of developing more affordable housing, as prices lock a growing number of families and young couples out of the market, committee members are pleased to see things moving in the right direction.
The region’s director of housing services, presented a needs assessment Thursday that will inform Peel’s Housing Master Plan, which shows that an increasing number of residents are living in precarious housing, while Peel has one of the longest affordable housing wait times in Ontario.
With sweeping and controversial reforms to Ontario healthcare hovering over the horizon, Bramptonians are growing nervous about what those changes will mean for a city that is already short on healthcare infrastructure.
At a town hall in Brampton Friday, the Ontario Health Coalition and Peel Poverty Action Group rallied support for an April 30 protest at Queen’s Park against changes widely viewed as a move towards privatizing healthcare.
It seems warnings of teacher cuts have come to pass. The Peel District School Board and the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, Peel District, say hundreds of teaching jobs will be eliminated by the fall due to the Ford government's funding cuts to the public education system.
The 330 “surplus to board” notices sent to teachers in Peel aren’t part of an annual routine, as the Ford government has suggested, as there have been no layoffs in the PDSB for the past five years.
The loss of teachers, the OSSTF says, could lead to 1,200 fewer classes being offered in Peel high schools, reducing elective options for students.
Bramptonians who had placed hope in a full-fledged university campus coming to downtown saw that hope dashed in October when the province yanked funding for a Ryerson University project.
In the face of that disappointment, Algoma University has been a beacon of reassurance, and now wants to expand its own small business-school campus downtown to bring its student enrolment up to 500, with the help of $575,000 from the city.
The main renovation will occur along the Garden Square-facing facade, in the corridor between the Rose Theatre and the school’s current building at 24 Queen St. E.