After deferring the vote by a month, Mississauga City Council approved budgets for 2020, including a 4.52 percent hike in the city hall budget and a small increase to the stormwater collection fee. These increases were reluctantly agreed to by councillors, some of whom wanted to see lower cost increases for residents.
The great promise of a new-look mayor and council after the 2018 municipal election was that they would remain steadfast in their support of the 2040 Vision document that was a by-product of thousands of hours of meetings and discussions with the Brampton public. Those tenets were embraced as more than a vision but a real game plan for future growth. A blueprint.
But recent signs are worrying. Embracing the 2040 Vision might only go so far. The latest planning decisions on the Queen Street East Corridor and the GTA West Corridor stand in sharp contrast and make the city look inconsistent in its long-term outlook.
Oxford Properties, the owner of Square One Mall, has announced a project that will alter downtown Mississauga forever. The ambitious development plans include 37 towers which will replace acres of parking with dense housing, office space and walkable streets. While this project is fueled, in part, by the upcoming taxpayer-funded Hurontario LRT, the developer isn’t planning to give back to the city by constructing affordable housing units.
Residents were invited to a special council meeting Wednesday to learn how the city will implement a shift away from bad urban planning towards a dynamic city of the future. It seems like an earlier initiative driven by input from more than 13,000 local residents might need some modifications.
On Wednesday, after pleaful delegations from the Concerned Ontario Doctors organization were delivered to city council, Brampton officially declared a healthcare emergency. Each year, thousands of patients wait in hallways to be treated at Brampton Civic, the city’s lone full-service hospital. With a second hospital operating as a ‘glorified walk-in clinic,’ the city is unprepared to deal with its staggering care crisis.
In January 2019, the parent and grandparent program was heavily criticized after it closed to applications in less than ten minutes. People living in Brampton, Mississauga and across Canada hoping to reunite with their loved ones were left disheartened. Two days before 2020 applications were set to open, the submissions were delayed with no fixed date in sight. Now, the program faces further uncertainty.
The Vision, an aspirational document shaped with the input of more than 13,000 residents seeking to make Brampton a future ready city of dynamic complete communities, could come with a hefty price tag. Will council members be willing to follow through on a master strategy, if it means those same residents will have to pay for much of what they want?
Once upon a time, Mississauga was a suburban dream, where large lots played host to front lawns, back lawns and multi-car garages. These days, the city is building upwards, with towers springing up left, right and center as it moves towards a denser future. However, the cost of years of urban sprawl is still coming to bear on the city’s taxpayers, with an ever-growing infrastructure gap and significant debt in the city’s books.
Brampton’s tree canopy has been suffering for years and it could take decades before it returns to its former glory, despite all initiatives the city has taken to reverse its decline.
The push by Mayor Patrick Brown and local councillors to bring BramptonU to the city, to finally create a full post-secondary university campus in the country’s ninth largest municipality, is getting plenty of attention from staff involved in the marketing campaign.
But lost in the city’s press releases, the designated website and a YouTube-video are any real details of how the strategy will work and tangible evidence the city can even get such a monumental project done.
Daniel Amsler and Brianna Robinson have seen it all. Both work for Mississauga Community Legal Services, helping low-income renters protect themselves in a heated housing market. As defenders of struggling tenants, both are intimately aware of the city’s plethora of illegal secondary units. However, with high rental rates in Mississauga and a lack of options, the lawyers warn that if the city starts cracking down, local residents could end up on the streets.
For the first time in 20 years, all four of Ontario’s teachers’ unions are taking job action.
Next week, elementary teachers and Catholic teachers across the province will take part in a one-day strike, the latest in a string of efforts by the union to propel ongoing bargaining in their favour.
Six provinces in Canada have penalties for residents who waste emergency resources by needlessly calling 911, ranging from thousands of dollars in fines to short prison sentences. In Ontario, no such legislation exists. With the rate of inappropriate calls received by Peel police rising every year, Mississauga is considering how to address the ongoing negligence.
A vibrant arts scene not only has the power to create a beautiful city, but the ability to promote development and job creation.
Brampton’s vision for 2040 relies heavily on a strong arts and culture community and the creation of spaces dedicated to nurturing young creatives.
Enter the Agency, a new group dedicated to supporting Brampton’s ailing arts sector, and transforming it into the foundation for the city’s future plans.
As initial plans for Phase II of the Peel Memorial Centre expansion are set to be submitted to the province at the end of this month, the City of Brampton and William Osler Health System have received some unwelcome news.
Recent word from the province suggests the city and Osler will need to come up with much more money than originally thought, possibly hundreds of millions more.
Mayor Patrick Brown wants a tax freeze, a move that boosts his popularity among property owners.
Last year he was able to achieve his campaign pledge of freezing local taxes with some creative accounting and delayed investment in small projects that most taxpayers don't pay close attention to.
Holding the line on taxes won't be so easy this year, especially with the province demanding tens of millions of dollars for the expansion of Peel Memorial.
Brampton’s court system is at a breaking point, with little help on the horizon. Recent admissions by the province of Ontario about its struggling appointment process for judges offers little hope as future pressures loom.
Despite explosive growth in its population from 2006 to 2019, Mississauga did not add a single fire truck or firefighter across this 13 year period.
With the fire service’s response time sitting at almost nine minutes in 2018, more than double the national standard, continued investment is desperately needed in Mississauga as the population grows and fire fighting infrastructure continues to age.
In 2016, the Region of Peel brought in a bylaw banning the smoking of shisha products inside buildings and on patios. The new rule was protested by the owners of several hookah bars in the area, who said the ban would drive them out of business. The legal fight made it all the way to the Supreme Court, which recently quashed the appeal, leaving local business owners with few options moving forward.
With the rise of violent crime in Peel over the last few years, Peel police have had to consistently devote more resources to solving the more heinous, highly public crimes, spreading thin a workforce that is already too small for a region this size.
The hard work has paid off, with Peel police maintaining high solvency rates for these violent crimes, but at what cost?
As the cost of living continues to skyrocket in Mississauga and Brampton, more and more families find themselves relying on food banks. These last resort safety nets offer help to those who cannot afford to put food on their table, with the number of people using them generally considered a good barometer of a city’s poverty. However, while the Mississauga Food Bank keeps detailed records and produces statistical data, food organizations in Brampton are more disorganized with nobody keeping track. As a result, councillors at the Region of Peel have a dilemma when it comes to finding solutions, without statistics to guide their decisions.
Over the course of 2019, the provincial government made a series of announcements for hospital redevelopment projects across Ontario. However, in Brampton, where the city’s frontline healthcare providers are being crushed under the pressure of trying to serve a growing city with only one full-service hospital, they were continuously left out. Now, with the government’s first infrastructure announcement of the new year, that trend is continuing.
When the province offered cities across Ontario cash to help them host legal cannabis stores, Mississauga said no. Referencing concerns surrounding the locations in which stores might spring up, the city’s council was cautious.
As the province looks ahead to more changes in the cannabis industry and edible products go on sale, some are beginning to wonder if Mississauga shot itself in the foot by declining provincial funds.
Everyone with skin in the region’s public education system (whatever the colour) knows the impact of demographic changes, but a recent second school survey has managed to drill even deeper into the core of our school system’s strengths and weaknesses, right down to the hallways and classrooms. Trustee Kathy McDonald knows this year, and the next decade will also be a critical one in addressing anti-Black racism that has plagued the PDSB for years.
In January 2019, the updated parent and grandparent reunification process came under harsh criticism as it closed just nine minutes after opening. Across Mississauga, Brampton and Canada as a whole, people who had hoped to bring their relatives to live with them were left disappointed, frustrated and forced to wait another year to try again. However, just as January 2020 was about to present a second opportunity to invite relatives to Canada, the Liberal government slammed on the breaks.
Mississauga’s heated rental economy looks set to get hotter still in 2020, with a projected cost increase of eight percent across the next 12 months. A split in responsibility for housing between the city and the region alongside some reluctant developers has put further pressure on the housing market as it continues to move out of reach of ordinary residents.
With high rents an issue across the GTA, the province and federal government partnered in December to create a housing benefit for Ontarians, offering a short-term fix. The $1.4 billion scheme will offer rental support to 5,200 families across the province, despite doing little to solve systemic issues of supply.
When John F. Kennedy circled himself with loyal lieutenants, he pushed out many with the knowledge and expertise to help lead his country at a crucial time. His shortened presidency, despite the disturbing behaviour revealed after his assassination, is remembered as one of the greatest in American history.
For Patrick Brown, questionable decisions to hire inexperienced senior staff with checkered pasts, will only be overlooked if he and his team start getting significant wins for Brampton.
It’s becoming unavoidable. Any future urban planning must include the caveat of preparing for the looming impacts of climate change. For Peel Public Health, our warming planet has become a key threat to the well being of residents.
As the new decade dawns, a recently released plan lays out the public health agency’s priorities for the next 10 years, and how it will deal with global warming, its impact on a rising tide of mental illness and a healthcare system the most vulnerable often can’t access.
Mississauga adopted a Vision Zero strategy in 2018, targeted at reducing pedestrian fatalities on its roads to zero. Since endorsing the policy, the city has moved slowly on potential changes, but with its proposed 2020 budget, council could make its biggest commitment yet.
The document suggests the hiring of a fulltime team leader for the project, alongside significant investment in automated speed cameras for the city.
Early in the new year, Brampton will face a major checkpoint in the city’s journey to a denser, more urban future.
A rezoning request for the Shoppers World redevelopment will be received on January 13, with plans in place to turn the mid-sized mall into a retail and residential space with 28-storey towers and nearly 5,000 living spaces. The plan could mark one of the first significant shifts toward the goals of Brampton's 2040 Vision.
The Mississauga Transitway has been a divisive piece of infrastructure since its creation, with many questioning the location in which it was built. Now, new figures provided to The Pointer by the city reveal the ridership measurement methods used by MiWay have inflated its transitway numbers, with real ridership significantly lower than reported.
Per-stop data for the system also reveals a major disparity in usefulness between stops along the route with one stop, Cawthra, averaging just 52 daily boardings.
It has been a long time since anyone in Mississauga considered the city to be an extension of Toronto, but further afield, it’s a reputation that continues to haunt the country’s sixth largest city.
With its international image and tourist appeal still clouded by its big cousin, the city is now exploring ways to break the mold. In 2020, a new tourism organization will be established with the aim of creating and distilling Mississauga’s identity before selling it to the rest of the world.
The conceptual images of Lakeview Village are idyllic. They show families enjoying open green space, modern mixed-use buildings, and the beauty of Lake Ontario spreading out in front of sleek condos. However, what the images don’t show is the smell which could be wafting through the headline development when the wind blows the wrong way.
The invisible risk to this key housing development comes from a wastewater sewage facility just 120 metres from where people are slated to live.
A program that has seen great success in the United States, identifying approximately 1,200 victims of human trafficking, is expanding into Canada for the first time.
Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) offers training and education to the trucking industry to help turn thousands of sets of eyes and ears that travel the nation’s highways — areas frequently used by traffickers — into crime-fighting tools to spot these pimps at work. A horrific case in the U.S. serves as an example of how truckers here can help fight this brutal crime.
While thousands across Peel spend Christmas and Boxing Day with their families, some will wake up in the wee hours to get to work. With public transit services limited for the holidays, it takes longer for some to commute on a day when everyone else is resting. As most relax, someone has to keep vital services running across Brampton and Mississauga.
In the Region of Peel, shelter facilities for the homeless have been stretched for years. Every budget, worries around tax increases and other financial pressures leave the region’s housing crisis as a problem for the next year. Though homelessness is now an unavoidable issue, between 2018 and 2019, some beds were taken away and some added through the region’s shelters, leading to a net increase of five spaces in total.
While highly-paid public officials pontificated about justice for taxpayers and the structure of the region, debating optics that impact their political fortunes, issues such as affordable housing, the growing crisis of homelessness, public health and child care funding were largely ignored during the just-completed budget approval process. Emergency shelters are groaning under the strain of ever soaring demand as winter arrives, but those most in need this holiday season have once again been ignored.
Regional Council celebrated the approval of the 2020 Peel budget with much praise for staff who were able to trim a little more from an already lean budget, resulting in a 1.5 percent tax increase in the regional share of the property bill, down from the initially proposed 1.7 percent. The most recently proposed police budget was not touched, despite a council request to trim it.
While council members celebrated their efforts on the tax increase, what wasn’t mentioned was the utility rate jump which spiked from an initial 6.3 percent increase to 7.2 percent.
Chief Administrative Officer David Barrick, hired in October to oversee almost 4,000 staff, and Director of Communications Jason Tamming, hired in May to control the information in and out of City Hall, both have employment histories that would appear to disqualify them from ever holding a municipal-sector job again, after being fired from roles in Niagara. They are now part of an investigation by the Ontario Provincial Police.
Mayor Patrick Brown, who has numerous connections to both men and chaired the committee that oversaw Barrick’s hiring, denies any direct or indirect help to get them their lucrative jobs with the municipality. So how did they land two of the most senior and influential positions within the City of Brampton?
After criticism of 2017 standards which effectively bar baptized Sikh paramedics from frontline work, the province has introduced changes that allow paramedic services to accommodate all employees.
The decision follows an arbitration in Hamilton on the subject and much debate, with Brampton East MPP Gurratan Singh raising the issue in the legislature, leading to the amended standards that should come into effect in January.
The Progressive Conservatives have handed Mississauga an early Christmas present with the news that they are abandoning plans to tear down the QEW Credit River Bridge. Reneging on a decision they made in November, the province has opted to put money into repairing the current heritage structure, which dates back to 1934.
With the third contradictory announcement on the topic, it illustrates a continued lack of certainty, which does not bode well for the major feat of engineering.
As the province of Ontario abruptly cancels the Hamilton LRT, Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie spoke to The Pointer about other transit projects in the city.
While the game changing LRT has been front and centre of Mississauga politics for years, projects like the Milton GO line have stagnated, with two-way all-day GO not expected on the key route until after 2041. Yet, with the GO update floundering, a new project on the horizon at Pearson Airport offers a revolutionary change to connect Mississauga’s commuters.
Days after an arbitration involving a Sikh paramedic in Hamilton who was unable to work because of new helmet regulations that in rare cases prevent the wearing of a beard, questions have been raised in the provincial legislature. Gurratan Singh asked Premier Doug Ford on Thursday what he would do to allow Sikh paramedics to continue to work and practice their religion.
The term Special Policy Area (SPA) sounds Orwellian, and Brampton is intent on trying to disentangle itself from its downtown floodplain SPA. This has stymied growth throughout history, but it will take a very high price tag to fix what ails us. The city, in concert with the TRCA and Peel region, is now taking steps to reach its ultimate goal: complete flood mitigation. The TRCA made an application and received $1.5 million in federal funding from the Ministry of Public Safety through its National Disaster Mitigation program. This money was specifically earmarked for an environmental assessment on Brampton’s SPA, a horseshoe-shaped piece of land in the downtown core. Will this eventually lead to a massive re-do of an “extremely complex urban environment”?
Since the City of Mississauga last reviewed its ward boundaries in 2006, its population has grown by more than 100,000 people. As a result some councillors represent tens of thousands more residents than others. With the 2022 municipal election already on the minds of staff and councillors, the city has begun work on a review of the city’s wards.
A tense day at the Region of Peel saw the divide between Mississauga and Brampton continue to grow. With police funding at the centre of combative deliberations, the two cities clashed on how to proceed.
After Mississauga councillors led a vote forcing Peel Regional Police to reduce its budget request, they pushed to shift $69 million in policing costs to Brampton arguing the city is responsible for more of the force’s work, angering its members on regional council.
Safety standards applied by the province to Ontario paramedics in 2017 have been highlighted in a recent arbitration case in Hamilton.
Rules put in place to change the helmets worn by paramedics throughout the province, including in Peel, have left some, particularly Sikh workers, struggling to balance their individual rights with workplace rules.
With a Region of Peel 2020 budget that is short on solutions and investments to tackle the growing affordable housing crisis, one critical area is being looked after.
Peel is moving forward with help to make sure survivors of human trafficking have somewhere to go when fleeing these dangerous criminal networks operating in the region.
The City of Mississauga has approved a new economic growth strategy which sets out steps to make the city more appealing for people to live and work in.
Following the recent announcement that Bombardier will be setting up in the municipality, the new plan outlines steps to further boost the city, including how to make it less reliant on the car.
Speeding continues to be a growing issue on the streets of Brampton and now city councillors are looking to take advantage of freshly released regulations from the province allowing the use of photo radar.
But while council pushes for rapid implementation to improve safety on local roads, city staff are worried the certain influx of speeding violations would cause Brampton’s overburdened court system to collapse.
A crowd unlike any city hall has ever seen arrived last week to protest a development proposal that a local community feels will disrupt the existing neighbourhood.
The plan, seen by many as too dense for the surrounding single-family homes, sparked fierce debate at the committee level before councillors approved it in a tight vote. The final vote at full council this week highlights the challenges of smart growth in a city that loves its space.