Talk of a tax freeze carries all the temporary relief of an icy drink on a hot day.
But next year, the heat will be even fiercer as delayed spending puts the city in a more dire position.
The Pointer takes a look at what’s being given up and put off until another day in a proposed budget, which goes before council Tuesday, that would increase Brampton’s share of the 2019 tax bill by 0.8 percent, far below the rate of inflation.
Boosting the average high school class from 22 to 28 kids will have special impact in Brampton, where many schools are already stretched to cope with packed buildings amid a growth-related boom in students.
Education Minister Lisa Thompson has promised there won’t be any teacher layoffs, but the change will mean major cutbacks in positions, limiting opportunities for both fresh new teachers and students.
It’s time Brampton got a fairer share of the tax pie. While Doug Ford talks of forming supercities and eliminating a fourth tier of government and going deep into the weeds to find efficiencies for taxpayers, this city continues to come up short in finding funds for badly needed infrastructure. If Queen’s Park won’t help, we should shift focus to our five federal MPs and ask: ‘We pay our taxes, so where’s the money?’ We’re eager for their answer, especially with an election looming this fall.
Brampton’s arts community honours the creator of Little Mosque on the Prairie with a spot on its Walk of Fame this week. An ‘Evening with Zarqa Nawaz’ will be held at the Rose Theatre on Friday and it promises to reveal some of the mysteries behind the creative process. It will also lay bare the reasons why comedy is the best tonic to closing the cultural divides that turn groups in our society against each other.
In light of the horrible massacre in New Zealand, the world could use some blessed calm, and the types of stories that speak to our humanity.
Together the populations of Brampton, Mississauga and Caledon would be Canada’s third largest city.
Mississauga councillor Carolyn Parrish believes that such a “super-city,” which would dwarf Toronto geographically, is a potential outcome of a PC review of regional governance—which is likely to lead to amalgamations in other regions such as Waterloo and Niagara.
It comes at a time when the region is already teetering on the edge of disunity, with Mississauga preferring to secede altogether.
Brampton’s infrastructure can be described, at best, as neglected.
The 2019 draft budget speaks to a wide gap between city funding and a repair backlog that is not being met.
But that’s a common issue in a political system that has thrown too much of the burden for roads, bridges, transit, pipes, social housing and other basic needs on property owners through local taxes.
Brampton, and other Canadian cities, are in a dire state; infrastructure is increasingly in disrepair and cities can no longer shoulder the burden of maintaining and upgrading it.
Voices such as Toronto Mayor John Tory and the Association of Municipalities of Ontario have long been calling for other levels of government to step up, saying local property taxes can’t be expected to cover the rising cost.
The newly elected federal Liberals promised in 2016 to boost infrastructure spending by an extra $60 billion over a decade above their predecessor’s funding, but Brampton has seen only a fraction of what it might reasonably expect, about $42 million of a potential $972 million.
An unseen part of Brampton’s history has been subverting the course of municipal policy for months now.
Poorly mapped and dubiously maintained subterranean channels, originally designed to guide water from Etobicoke Creek, put a halt on a major revitalization project meant to unlock the potential of the city’s stagnant downtown.
It’s still not clear when the project might resume — or how many millions more it will cost, thanks in part to those mysterious tunnels.
A looming question in the upcoming budget deliberations is whether to go with a new “political model” of staffing council offices.
Councillors are looking at adding 10 staff to help them out in response to heavier call volumes and more demands for assistance from a growing constituent base.
But rising labour costs that have galloped ahead of population growth in recent years raise questions about the $1 million cost and who really benefits.
After seeing ridership almost double over five years, a more transit-friendly Brampton doesn’t look as unlikely as it once did.
Buying more buses, let alone running light rail transit through downtown, is going to take a lot of money, especially when the city has drained its transit bank account to nearly zero.
Enter the proposed 1% transit tax: a $23 addition to the average property tax bill.
Stripping away density targets recently established across the province is Doug Ford’s latest gift to his developer friends. Some Caledon members of regional council are more than happy with moves that will increase sprawl, create more traffic chaos and hasten climate change.
The future of the auto industry in Brampton could be in jeopardy according to a new report that says maintaining our competitiveness in a rapidly changing industry will require decisive action, collaboration by provincial and federal governments, targeted investment and policies designed for a new kind of auto mobility. It’s a warning to Brampton because its Fiat-Chrysler plant on Williams Parkway isn’t producing the kind of vehicles needed to meet new consumer demand.
According to a City of Brampton document, only 3,432 basement units out of a guesstimated 30,000 have been registered with the municipality since 1996.
Only a third of those, about 1,070, have been registered since 2015, when the city introduced its new rules for basement apartments.
That means the city is collecting only a small fraction of the property tax and other revenues that it could be — and the rest of us are subsidizing noncompliant homeowners.
With traffic gridlock and sprawl already wreaking havoc on Peel Region, the Doug Ford government’s proposed turnaround, now calling for lower density, may make things even worse, but it’s exactly what Caledon wants.
It leaves many concerned about how to continue growth in a way that’s sustainable, that improves quality of life in fast-growing communities like Brampton, shortens commutes and reduces the impact on climate change.
Bramptonians are significantly weighed down by the burden of property taxes. Seventy percent of the city’s revenue comes from residential ratepayers to cover its operating and capital costs. As things stand now, Bramptonians pay the highest property taxes in the Region of Peel.
Other cities, like Toronto, Seattle and Philadelphia rely much less on property taxes because they have more revenue tools at their disposal. What can Bramptonians learn from these other cities in the lead up to municipal budget deliberations?
Sparks flew as residents and Opposition MPPs confronted provincial Conservatives Amarjot Sandhu and Prabmeet Sarkaria over their government’s failure to address Brampton’s hallway healthcare nightmare — in a recent 12-month period, 4,352 patients were treated in the hallways of Brampton Civic, the city’s only full-service hospital.
Instead of advocating for desperately needed healthcare expansion, the two PC MPPs have a record of being absent from the provincial legislature during crucial votes concerning Brampton, including one in which NDP Leader Andrea Horwath tabled a motion to fund a new hospital in Brampton. The PCs defeated the motion in their absence.
Secondary suites represent a catch-22 for the City of Brampton. They are needed to accommodate exponential population growth in a city that has long favoured single family homes over high-density development.
But a city that gets the vast majority of its revenue from property taxes is losing out on a huge flow of cash because secondary suites fly under the taxman’s radar.
Meanwhile, taxpayers have to cover all the costs of services used by thousands of renters living in illegal units.
The 2019 draft budget makes little mention of how to deal with secondary suites.
With political heavy hitters Hazel McCallion and Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie desperate to pull Peel apart, the region’s CAO and CEO/Chair say they are doing everything in their power to keep the two-tier government together.
Peel’s CAO tells staff that a recent meeting with the Doug Ford government’s advisors was “positive,” though anxiety still swirls around what changes the province may be contemplating.
Regional Chair Nando Iannicca says Peel should be viewed as a model to be emulated, not broken apart.
The vast majority of residents taking part in a Monday town hall want to see a tax freeze.
That’s what Mayor Patrick Brown wants, too, but it’s going to be increasingly difficult with the city’s pressing infrastructure gap — despite the relative youth and good condition of the city’s facilities.
It’s clear, though, that people want the city to do something to relieve the lopsided tax pressure forced on homeowners in a city suffering from a lack of new commercial investment.
Peel school boards say they’re still in the dark about what a memo from the provincial education ministry about exercising “prudence” will mean for their hiring decisions this year — or what the consequences of a hiring freeze and other elements of a current provincial review would be for schools.
Officials have indicated that they would be expected to comply with ministry directives. With potential increases in class sizes and cuts to all-day kindergarten, uncertainty looms large over Brampton’s schools.
Finding solutions to traffic congestion was one of the goals explored in a one-day ITAC Smart Cities Technology Summit held at the Rose Theatre in Brampton this past week. There’s a chance to break our dependence on the car, and there's a new professional waiting to help: a “traffic psychologist.”
In the Netherlands and elsewhere, clever methods are helping to wean drivers away from their addiction to personal vehicles, while providing transit that works.
On Wednesday, parallel sets of testimony in two national capitals threatened to bring down national leaders over alleged misdeeds and coverups.
In Washington, former Trump attorney Michael Cohen called his boss of more than a decade a racist, a con man and a cheat. In Ottawa, Jody Wilson-Raybould said her Prime Minister and others had placed unethical pressure on her as attorney general to go easy on the SNC-Lavalin corporation in its bid to avoid a criminal trial.
In both cases, the light of day is beginning to penetrate into dark corners the powerful would rather keep hidden from public scrutiny.
Fears that the province is about to announce an end to charging developers for installing new water infrastructure have prompted Peel Region councillors to prepare a pushback PR campaign.
A flyer could be making its way into water bills in hopes of rallying public opinion against such a move.
Regional officials point out that eliminating utility development charges could boost annual water and wastewater costs by $500 per residential customer.
A move by Peel Region Council to ask a consultant to take another look at a controversial new paramedic deployment system in Caledon has been deferred to June.
The paramedics union and some residents are worried that the new model, which requires paramedics to go to a station in Brampton to pick up their ambulances before deploying to a satellite station in the sprawling community, could endanger lives.
Regional council plans to wait until Peel staff report back in June with their own assessment before ordering another evaluation.
An overhaul to the system that would consolidate power in a single “super agency” known as Ontario Health is being touted as a move toward channeling more money into frontline services and creating more “patient-centred” care.
But Opposition MPPs, including Brampton Centre MPP Sara Singh, are warning that it is anything but.
It remains unclear how Brampton might be affected by the changes, given that the current provincial government has shown no inclination so far to alleviate the crowding at the city’s sole full-service hospital.
After hearing complaints from the declining taxi industry, councillors have asked staff for guidance on re-establishing the city’s taxicab committee.
That was one of the requests from Bram City Taxi owner Joe Farrugia, who is asking the city to help level the playing field for traditional cab companies facing fierce competition from ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft despite regulations brought in last year.
Low overhead cost and freedom from costly city regulations, cabbies argue, give those app-based services an unfair advantage, leading to many defections from the taxi industry.
Will it be the Burger King community centre? The Home Depot park? Or the Westjet swim program?
Anything is possible as the city contemplates putting eight of its facilities and lots of programs and events up for corporate naming rights and sponsorships under a proposed policy that would help generate non-tax revenue for a city feeling the financial squeeze.
Corporate partners could bring an estimated $2 million a year into city coffers, according to estimates.
A day after the city’s draft 2019 budget showed exactly how stretched Brampton’s resources are, the Smart Cities Summit provided some hope for those looking for ways to take control of municipal finances.
Mayor Patrick Brown and Councillor Martin Medeiros suggested solutions they would like to explore to offset the property tax burden on the public.
According to the draft budget, property taxes account for almost 70 percent of all revenues for the city.
A staff recommendation for a 0.8 percent increase this year, revealed on Monday, isn’t quite the property tax freeze Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown promised voters, but it’s close.
A bigger question is how many vital improvements to services and infrastructure may have to be added to the growing “deferred list” to keep taxes down.
The previous council tentatively settled on a 5.4 percent increase to match this year’s projected capital and operating costs.
Within the same month that Mayor Patrick Brown received a statement of claim from Finance Minister Vic Fedeli alleging defamation, publisher Dean Baxendale has returned fire, signalling the company’s intention to defend against the claim, which also names the publisher.
The lawsuit is over Brown’s tell-all memoir, Takedown: The Attempted Political Assassination of Patrick Brown, in which the mayor describes an incident in which a staffer accused Fedeli of “inappropriate behaviour.”
Police and the Crown Attorney have concluded there isn’t sufficient evidence to pursue charges in a case of ballot-stuffing in the race for the nomination in Hamilton West–Ancaster–Dundas in May 2017.
The issue, which arose while Patrick Brown was still PC Leader last year, hung over last fall’s municipal election, as a frequent point of attack for incumbent Linda Jeffrey.
Brown says he’s glad the probe has ended but still believes it would be best for Elections Ontario to run nomination processes to avoid similar issues in future.
Plans to scrap LHINs, bring a collection of health agencies together under a single umbrella and create new local “Ontario Health Teams” were announced Tuesday by provincial Health Minister Christine Elliott.
Amid the fear of job losses, some of the work needed to create a new local organization is already underway through the William Osler Health System, which has been angling toward changes in service delivery for some time.
The idea of a “super agency” in the name of streamlining care, however, is drawing skepticism from patient advocates.
While Peel Region deals with a rise in human trafficking, it’s a crime that’s often misunderstood and ignored by the general public.
Victims of this form of modern slavery range from young girls drawn into the sex trade to male migrant workers exploited for their labour.
But many people are surprised to learn most are Canadians — and, shockingly, half of those exploited for the sex trade are Indigenous.
The SNC-Lavalin scandal raises many questions about who democracy serves. Is the mantra, too big to fail, the new normal when it comes to private interests that receive protection from systems of justice, at the expense of the very system of government doing the protecting?
On a per capita basis, Peel receives less than many other regions of Ontario for carrying out provincially mandated public health programs, despite steps in recent years to adjust for unique factors such as a high immigrant population.
Regional council is looking at ways to push its case for more equitable funding for programs like early childhood vision screening, mental health and addictions programs, diabetes risk reduction and control of infectious disease outbreaks.
It may be an uphill battle, with the PC government showing little interest in providing new money for improvements to healthcare in the region.
After a heated exchange between regional councillors and staff over slow progress on building affordable housing units in Peel Region — and an antiquated system for tracking the wait-list — Councillor Carolyn Parrish revealed that Mississauga plans one move that might help: removing development charges on basement apartments.
The committee asked staff to investigate the feasibility of doing the same region-wide, encouraging builders to put ready-to-rent units into new homes.
A presentation about housing priorities for the coming year also drew exasperation when it was revealed that the wait-list is woefully out of date because staff are still using a paper-based method to track it.
Caledon residents contend they were not properly informed about significant changes to how paramedic service is delivered in rural areas that were fully implemented in mid-January — a plan that had been ruled out years earlier.
They’re concerned that turning their EMS stations into satellite locations could compromise service and possibly put lives at risk in Caledon and Brampton.
But the region’s commissioner of health services counters those worries and points to a number of efforts by the region to inform residents and quell concerns.
City council is taking steps to revive the disbanded Brampton Arts Council. At their Wednesday meeting, councillors directed staff to consider creating a task force to look into ways to bring back the Brampton Arts Council, which was disbanded in 2015 after losing half of its city funding.
Proponents say the lack of a unified arts organization in the city has left a void, which contributed to the disappearance of half of the arts industry groups that existed in 2014.
Social media were rife with speculation and confusion Wednesday after a series of photos on Facebook showed Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown in a large group of dignitaries on his visit to India, his 19th, with a sign reading Anna University in the background.
A local radio host fueled that speculation by sharing the photos with a comment that Brown was “all set to bring Amma [Anna] university campus in Brampton after the failure of Ryerson campus.” Meanwhile, it’s unclear what the mayor is doing in India on his personal trip, which has featured meetings with Indian officials and organizations.
The provincial PC government announced Tuesday they will be curtailing the scope of SIU investigations in order to “Restore Respect for Police Officers.” A new bill would mean the SIU will be called in only when an injury or death occurs as a result of police use of force and vehicle pursuits that result in injury or death.
The bill would also reduce the size of the province’s police oversight regime. In a region where police misconduct is rife, it’s unclear what effect legislation like this could have.
Inzola Group has filed an appeal, challenging the ruling of the Ontario Superior Court, which last month decided in favour of the City of Brampton in the $28.5 million action against it over the awarding of the contract to build the West Tower expansion at a cost of $205 million.
The appeal contends that Justice John Sproat made a number of errors in law in his decision, including his contention that the City acted fairly, even though evidence presented at trial showed that senior staff misled council on key details of the winning bid before crucial votes were taken.
Two months into the year and MPPs are finally returning to their places at Queen’s Park.
There’s lots of unresolved business from the previous year on the agenda, including a bill to reduce car insurance premiums, the business-friendly Bill 66, the future of Peel Region and other regional governments, and reforms to the healthcare system.
Though the government has been on a break, there has been movement on those issues that will probably decide the course of the session to come.
Lacking a formal announcement, residents learned this week that Mayor Patrick Brown went on a visit to India via his Twitter account. The mayor’s spokesperson, Gary Collins, told The Pointer Brown is vacationing in the country. Brown was not able to attend Tuesday’s vigil for Riya Rajkumar.
However, photos showing Brown meeting with chief ministers of two of India’s states suggest that the trip is more than just that. Collins says Brown has strong connections with the high government officials whom he has met on numerous previous trips.
Daylighting Chedoke, Exploring Hamilton’s Hidden Creek is a Canadian author’s underground journey to find the source and story of a creek long buried under Hamilton. It's a telling tale about manipulating nature, hiding it away in our paved-over urban environment. There are financial, environmental and social benefits to uncovering our past, especially right here in Brampton.
Politicians like Donald Trump and Doug Ford don't care about the air we breathe and the water we drink. Neither do the CEOs and other elites who pursue policies and profits, with the help of willing leaders, at the expense of our planet. It's time for common sense to prevail, for those who don't care about living the lifestyles of the rich and famous to use the power of the vote to save us from ourselves.
Is the Ford government’s proposed Bill 66 really driven by its “Open for Business” mantra? Is the GTA West Corridor really about smart transportation? And are moves that might cut fees for developers really about helping beleaguered homebuyers? Or, is it all just to appease certain players, like the builders and developers he promised to help in a leaked video during last year’s provincial election? Ford has turned the clock back on real change in this province, and the business and ecological prospects are troubling for those who care just as much about the planet in which they live as their short time on it.
Brampton Fire handled more than 24,000 calls last year, and this year’s figure is likely to be even higher.
Additional fire stations, a new training facility and an emphasis on public education are part of adapting to meet the changing needs of a fast-growing urban centre.
For Brampton’s 300 firefighters, it’s a life that’s “almost a calling, more than a career,” says Fire Chief Bill Boyes.
The Doug Ford government is considering eliminating development charges related to building new water and sewer systems — a gift to the developers who have to pay them.
Some argue those charges raise the price of new homes, but at Thursday's Peel Council meeting Mayor Patrick Brown and other members said the claim that getting rid of them will result in trickle-down savings needs to be debunked.
It will put the burden for water infrastructure on utility users and could raise the average homeowner’s water bill by more than $500 a year.
A regional report says Toronto and the federal government owe Peel Region over $400,000 in costs incurred in assisting an influx of refugees — including some transferred from Toronto.
Toronto recently received $15 million in federal money to help recover some of what it spent to help newcomers resettle in Canada, but no such funding has come to Peel Region.
Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown says he’s been talking to federal officials about the issue, and about getting the region’s fair share of support.
Brampton council is moving ahead with planning for a Ryerson University-led Cybersecure Catalyst and Innovation Hub, despite signalling it can’t participate in the original downtown campus plan because the province withdrew its $90 million funding commitment.
The move to work on a memorandum of understanding with the university comes a month after Ryerson’s spokesperson said the university had been forced to pull out of the project to build a satellite campus next to the downtown GO train station. Mayor Patrick Brown told The Pointer he hasn’t given up on hopes for a full post-secondary campus down the road, mentioning conversations with Algoma University alongside those with Ryerson and Sheridan College.
With growth surging and climate change impacts looming, a key piece of the 2040 Vision could hold solutions for Brampton.
Policies to curb sprawl, emphasize sustainability and “shift the trajectory of the whole city” would be the work of a central institute being pitched by a coalition of local environmental groups.
The big question: Is Brampton council ready to take bold action to confront climate change?
Low-income families are now waiting six years to get into subsidized housing. But Peel Region, pressed to keep tax increases down, hasn’t devoted much in the budget to improving the situation.
Instead, it’s calling on the province to help by providing incentives for building rental housing and encouraging mandatory inclusionary housing, which means builders have to include affordable units in developments over a certain size.
The Ford government’s decision to revive a controversial project suspended in 2015 is being touted as a way to alleviate congestion on the 401 and other highways.
Supporters, including Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown, say a new highway would boost the local economy by easing the transport of goods and services around the region, while critics and some residents directly affected call it a backward and destructive step that will lead to more sprawl.
The sure winners will be the development industry and major landholders awaiting the chance to open up more land, some of it in or near environmentally protected areas.
Elected union president Adrian Woolley, often a public face of the Peel Regional Police, was charged by the Burlington OPP on Saturday night.
The charges come after long-time criticism of the force for its high rate of police misconduct cases.
History is repeating itself at Brampton City Hall. Five senior members of staff were terminated last week, forcing some of the remaining senior staff to don two hats to fill the gap.
Joe Pittari, who became acting CAO after another high-profile dismissal in December, enacted the changes last Thursday after Mayor Patrick Brown signalled immediately upon taking office the need for an extensive department-by-department review.
The demise of long-standing retailer David-Andrew shows how uncertain the future is for what used to be one of the most vibrant downtowns in Ontario. Will City Hall come up with a game plan to help storeowners survive the onslaught of online shopping?
Mayor Patrick Brown’s State-of-the-City address Tuesday to a large audience of business leaders pledged to bring massive private investment to the city. The new mayor wants to recruit them as ambassadors to promote the city’s assets to companies around the world.
His message was simple: Brampton is open for business, and it has a lot to offer. He wants an entire overhaul, to reshape City Hall’s economic development approach and grow Brampton into an economic powerhouse while taking the tax burden off homeowners. On Friday his office confirmed major staffing changes inside City Hall to help Brown's master plan.
Municipal leaders are now meeting with the province to consult on the regional governance review, and it won’t be long before Peel Region comes under scrutiny.
With Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie’s staunch belief that her city should be allowed to secede, Brampton saying it needs the region, and Caledon feeling overwhelmed by its larger partners, presenting a unified vision seems like a pipe dream.
A loss of all-day kindergarten would make life especially difficult for Brampton families, thanks to high costs and scarcity of space.
While the province has backed away from talk of reverting to half-day programs for now, there are no guarantees.
Options are limited in a city that has far fewer spaces per capita than many others, and where parents are paying the second-highest costs for licensed care in the country — about $1,146 a month, according to a new report.
As a result of Hasneet Singh Punia’s actions while working as Linda Jeffrey’s chief of staff, city council had banned those holding the position from being included in closed-door meetings, where sensitive, confidential information is shared. Now the ban has been lifted and Mayor Patrick Brown’s confidante, Babu Nagalingam, will be able to participate.
But Punia’s sharing of confidential documents raises a question: Who should be trusted with sensitive information?
Two-tier medicine is no answer to the woes of the city’s health-care system, NDP members say, decrying what they describe as a secret PC plan to privatize health care that may have been further along than the government has acknowledged.
A provincial document reflects on the need to invest in health services, especially addiction and mental health programs, outside the hospital environment, but says little about a need that is particularly pressing in Brampton: the shortage of hospital beds for a rapidly growing population.
Under a cloud of economic insecurity, the City of Brampton and the business community will focus more heavily on bringing in foreign investment. At the annual State of the City address, Mayor Patrick Brown and Chair of the Brampton Board of Trade Manpreet Mann revealed that there is particular interest in finding opportunities for local investment from abroad.
Many in the city have heard this before, with few results to show after efforts by the last two mayors to attract foreign investment.
More and more workers today are labouring alone, either self-employed or carrying out contract work. Jobs of the past are disappearing, but Brampton has one of the most highly educated workforces in the province.
Growth in ordinary jobs that are still needed — the kind housed in offices and factories with lots of permanent employees — is slowing.
Peel Region is taking a hard look at the effects of these changing employment patterns on its revenue base, which is increasingly putting the burden on homeowners rather than corporate taxpayers.
Education Minister Lisa Thompson says she is consulting with teachers and community members on how to improve education in Ontario, trying to calm fears that all-day kindergarten might be put on the chopping block. Meanwhile, both of Peel’s education boards say they have been kept out of the loop and are nervous about the possibility of losing full-day kindergarten and limits on class sizes.
Peel’s two major school boards are left playing a waiting game, as the PC government decides what the future of education in Ontario will look like.
As the Peel Police Services Board begins a national search for a new chief, Ron Chatha, who while leading a local Conservative riding association in 2017, was accused of offering to pay for membership fees so people would support Kevin O’Leary in the federal party’s leadership race, has been appointed by the Doug Ford government to the police board.
Chair of the board, Nando Iannicca, hopes for a chief with a social justice bent, keen on programs to discourage criminal behaviour. He’s also eager to see Peel Police face up to concerns about diversity on the force. Meanwhile, the police budget foresees spending millions to hire 55 new cops a year for the next few years in an effort to tamp down the violent crime that shook the city in 2018.
The tragic case of Rodney King led to the transformation of the Los Angeles Police Department. Its turnaround should serve as an example to those now responsible for the future of Peel police.
The PC government on Friday said there will not be two-tier healthcare in Ontario, after rumours of Doug Ford’s desire to privatize healthcare swirled Thursday following the leaked draft of a bill. If passed, the bill could prime the creation of a private medical system in Ontario for those higher income earners who don’t want to use the public system and for others who would be forced to use contracted services.
Brampton MPP Sara Singh, Deputy Leader of the NDP, slammed the potential new legislation, saying that it could make services in the public system far more expensive and called the PC's moves a particular threat to Brampton, where the ongoing healthcare crisis is ignored by the Ford government.
The dramatic gap between rich and poor is played out every day on the streets of downtown Brampton. It comes into sharp focus when one trains an eye on the services and the emotional support offered by the Regeneration Outreach Community. It offers our poorest a warm meal, and a chance to pull themselves free from a life on the streets.
Yet, its programs are limited by a lack of funding. The problems of hunger, homelessness, mental illness, substance abuse, even crime, aren’t going away and will become even more acute as people of all stripes and social conditions continue pouring into Canada’s ninth largest city.
Darren John, a.k.a. Avalanche the Architect, has been granted financial help to pursue an appeal on his 2015 conviction for uttering threats, after years of defending himself in a winding court process.
The decision by Justice Anne Molloy overturns an earlier judge’s puzzling ruling that denied him that help while using inflammatory words about the rapper’s lyrics as having a “black macho flavour.”
The previous judge recently apologized to John for those comments after the rapper made a formal complaint to the Canadian Judicial Council.
Though regional councillors and Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown acknowledge that Peel’s affordable housing crisis is leaving more and more residents homeless, budget deliberations saw little movement to address the issue.
Meanwhile, homeowners will be paying 6.5 percent more for their utility bills in 2019 and 2.7 percent more for the Region of Peel’s share of the property tax bill.
While frigid temperatures continue until the weekend, and Peel ignores the homeless crisis, Toronto has made a bold move to address its own dire situation, with 10,000 new affordable units and $280 million in incentives to developers for the plan. By contrast, Peel Region is offering developers $2.7 million to focus on affordable housing units.
Months after threatening legal action against Brampton’s mayor, Ontario Finance Minister Vic Fedeli has served an $8M statement of claim against Patrick Brown, which he received at a Black History Month celebration at City Hall on Friday.
The claim alleges that Brown’s tell-all book Takedown: The Attempted Political Assassination of Patrick Brown contains libelous statements about misconduct accusations allegedly made against Fedeli by a former female staffer.
A newly implemented change has Caledon residents upset over how Peel Region is delivering paramedic services north of Mayfield Road. Starting Jan. 14, paramedics assigned to Caledon reported for duty in Brampton rather than the area they will be servicing. But, as a result, shortages in EMS coverage in Caledon could pull resources away from Brampton, making some already long emergency response times even worse.
Residents and the paramedics union are butting heads with paramedics chief Peter Dundas and the region over how to best deploy Peel’s biggest emergency service safety net for those relying on ambulatory care.
Many assume that Nando Iannicca, the former longtime Mississauga councillor and now the head of Peel Region, will help his city get out of the two-tier system of municipal government. But after the provincial PCs announced a review of the regional government model, prompting speculation that Hazel McCallion and current Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie will get their wish, to pull their city out of Peel, Iannicca says, not so fast.
He tells The Pointer that regional government is working well and he wants to keep it that way.
“You’re going to have a fundamental disconnect when you don’t mimic the people that you serve,” says Nando Iannicca, who believes it’s time to take action to heal the rift between police and visible minority communities.
That will come as good news to community activists who have pointed to the lack of diversity on the force as a barrier to fighting crime. Meanwhile, concerns about racial profiling and discrimination continue even after new regulations put a curb on the oft-criticized practice of ‘carding.’
Much to the dismay of many Brampton residents hoping to sponsor their loved ones for immigration to Canada, an online form designed to expedite sponsorship applications hit its cap after being online for about ten minutes.
Families across the country are already expressing outrage. With routinely high numbers of people coming to Canada under the Liberal government’s quotas, one wonders why this was not foreseen and if the logjam is a result of a new immigration policy that favours economic immigration over family reunification.
Monday’s unrelenting weather added to the misery of the destitute in Peel’s municipalities. Not only are they toughing out a second cold snap in as many weeks, the blizzard will force many to dig in as a blanket of snow covers the region.
Peel’s elected officials have been mostly silent on the issue of homelessness. But Councillor George Carlson, who has housed the homeless himself, and Brampton’s Martin Medeiros say they are closely monitoring the desperate situation and will have fulsome policy requests to address the dire lack of support for the homeless during upcoming budget deliberations.
Former Liberal MP Raj Grewal returned to his job as an independent, representing his Brampton East riding, when Parliament resumed Monday. A gambling scandal revealed in November forced Grewal to step down from his position and he originally said he was resigning.
In a surprise move, after the Liberals removed him from caucus, Grewal decided he would seek help for his addiction before deciding on his future. On Monday he returned to his parliamentary seat.
A review of class sizes across Ontario is raising anxiety about whether classrooms will end up more crowded in Brampton schools that are often filled to the brim.
While City Councillor Harkirat Singh is among those expressing misgivings, at least one trustee says the government is right to take another look at inflexible caps that make it difficult for individual schools to respond to complicated fluctuations in student enrolment.
Following weeks of outrage expressed by Brampton rail commuters, Metrolinx announced Monday that the cancelled 4:50 express train from Union station will be back on the tracks in two weeks.
The regional transit agency apologized to riders, acknowledging that service changes to the Kitchener line, particularly the cancellation of the popular late-afternoon run, were not well thought out.
The Ontario leader is a sad example of what this week’s growing movement is not about. Doug Ford’s authoritarian governance on something as important as the health and well-being of young people stands in direct contrast to the Let’s Talk initiative across Canada.
Mississauga councillor Nando Iannicca was looking forward to leaving politics until a new challenge beckoned: leading Peel Region.
His philosophy is simple but daunting: make sure you have both an economic plan and an environmental one.
The former chair of the Credit Valley Conservation Authority wants to see booming economic development balanced by a green perspective that understands much of the devastation causing climate change happens because of bad decisions at the local level. Iannicca wants to help usher in a culture of environmental stewardship, while growing the local economy.
While Peel Police approached regional council hat-in-hand on Thursday to ask for a $21.6 million increase to their budget, acting chief Chris McCord admitted the force is currently running a deficit.
High salaries and a desire to hire more officers to deal with a spike in violent crime are driving a request for a 5.6 percent increase to the police budget for 2019.
Meanwhile, provincial grants for some initiatives are expiring, leaving police wondering how to make up the loss.
Consultations announced by Education Minister Lisa Thompson this week are expected to look at, among other things, removing caps on class sizes in the early years.
That could have particular impact in Brampton, where schools are often more than full thanks to a population boom and children being raised in secondary suites that don’t get counted in school demand projections. Current caps limit the number of students inside the classroom, but those controls could be lifted.
Peel Regional Councillor Carolyn Parrish, a former teacher and trustee, is among those skeptical of the PC government’s motivations, saying the goal is to cut costs rather than improve education.
After much fanfare, there will be no Ryerson University satellite campus in downtown Brampton. Following the shocking announcement by the Doug Ford PC government in October, that it was pulling the province’s $90 million commitment for the campus, Ryerson has confirmed with The Pointer that it is walking away from the partnership. When asked about the news Wednesday, Mayor Patrick Brown, councillors and staff were caught off guard and later said that Ryerson will still have some type of presence in the city, a position shared by the university, which has just opened a small continuing education program here and might be involved with a planned innovation centre in the downtown core.
Premier Doug Ford’s government has announced it will pull a controversial section of a proposed new bill that would have allowed municipalities to override existing laws that protect the province’s expansive Greenbelt in Southern Ontario. Municipal Affairs Minister Steve Clark tweeted out the reversal Wednesday.
The move marks the second time Ford has flip-flopped on his pledge to developers, after he told them during the spring election campaign that he would open up Greenbelt lands, then recanted ahead of the election, before introducing the legislation in December that would have allowed the move. Facing a huge backlash across the region, his government is now removing the provision from the proposed bill.
Provincial Transportation Minister Jeff Yurek is criticising his government’s own regional transit agency, after ill-advised changes to GO train service in and out of Brampton left thousands of commuters in the city furious, as platforms and passenger cars became dangerously overcrowded.
He is pledging to address problems created by Metrolinx and his government after it scrapped the previous Liberal plan to bring all-day, two-way GO service to Brampton.
The rapidly growing homeless population in Brampton is in a life or death predicament, with an alarming lack of shelter space to provide emergency rooming in extreme weather events such as the one just experienced.
Homeless people bore the brunt of Southern Ontario’s recent cold snap, but compared to other cities, Brampton is dangerously ill-prepared for the kind of frigid temperatures that put the city’s vulnerable population in severe risk. With temperatures dropping as low as -30 C overnight, many sleeping on the streets probably wondered if they would see another sunrise. The region’s few shelters are full despite being hard to access. And not nearly enough is being done to create affordable housing.
Mayor Patrick Brown sent a frank letter to Brampton’s MPs Friday, asking for their position on whether or not to allow legal cannabis stores in the city, since it was their government’s decision to legalize marijuana across the country. Brown also invited them to attend Monday evening’s council vote and weigh in on the debate. Responses from two of them and the city’s five MPPs are endorsements to opt-in, Brown says.
Meanwhile, Councillor Rowena Santos took a stance against anti-cannabis councillor Charmaine Williams. Santos questioned the anti-cannabis lawn signs Williams has been handing out, and city staff said they are a violation of bylaws and are being removed.
All of it sets up what’s sure to be a lively debate ahead of Monday evening’s vote to either opt in or out of legal cannabis shops in Brampton, one day before the province’s deadline to decide on Tuesday.
Led by Mayor Patrick Brown, Brampton Council has voted to allow cannabis retail stores within its borders. The temporary council chambers were packed Monday night with media and members of the public who wanted to register their opinion on a contentious issue. Ultimately, the efforts of three councillors to convince their colleagues to opt-out went up in smoke in an 8-3 vote.
Calgary, Brampton and Niagara Region have all been in the news over the conduct of municipal staff. In Brampton, the recent Inzola lawsuit, which the city successfully defended, revealed troubling behaviour inside City Hall. In Niagara just over a year ago a reporter’s notes were confiscated by regional staff and last year employees with the City of Calgary viewed a leaked newspaper column, prior to its publication, that dealt with the sudden and mysterious departure of a senior staffer.
While layers of oversight exist at the federal and provincial levels, for Brampton taxpayers, and those homeowners across the country whose tax dollars pay to keep huge municipal bureaucracies running, the question of accountability is a growing concern.
Premier Doug Ford’s hiring of Hazel McCallion as a special advisor, a role she also performed for Kathleen Wynne, was no surprise. Neither are the plans they will set in motion to dismantle Peel Region and allow developers to build in the Greenbelt.
With the bones of the city in desperate need of repair, council is grappling with how to shrink a potential $743 million infrastructure deficit by seizing the attention of senior governments.
One idea: “bundle” the current deficit with future capital needs into one big package to present to the province and Ottawa for help.
Another idea: with the upcoming federal election, have some smaller projects, from a growing list of work that needs attention, shovel-ready the next time a funding opportunity arises.
Staring at a proposed 3.3 percent increase on the Region of Peel’s share of the property tax bill for 2019 and a proposed 6.5 percent increase on the utility rate is enough to make homeowners cry. But those stomach-churning numbers are nothing compared to this one: 73 percent.
That’s how much the utility rate hike for Brampton homeowners could soar if Premier Doug Ford gets his way.
At Regional Council on Thursday, elected officials were told that if Ford’s government gets what it wants — elimination of the region’s ability to levy development charges on builders — it will throw the regional budget into chaos.
Brampton’s mayor has sent a letter to the federal politicians who helped legalize recreational pot, asking them to weigh in on whether the city should opt-in to the provincial plan and allow stores within its borders.
City council has been gathering information from the public ahead of a Jan. 21 vote.
If the city wants to opt-out, it has to register that choice with the province by Jan. 22, but most local politicians have yet to publicly declare their position on the highly contentious issue.
Getting away from retail politics, the time-consuming daily demands from constituents who need help with issues like snow clearing and fixing pot-holes, is something many Brampton councillors say they need to do.
On Wednesday, following the lead of Councillor Gurpreet Dhillon, they took the first step to move away from an administrative service role, by tentatively approving a new staffing model that will allow for extra hires to help them with big-city issues facing Brampton, like crime, transit, a new university and funding for proper healthcare.
Long after a hastily announced resignation on Facebook, Raj Grewal has yet to make it official.
Constituents don’t know if Grewal, who was kicked out of the Liberal caucus in a scandal involving gambling and huge debts, will continue to represent them in Ottawa.
Grewal had promised to make a final decision in the new year, but the next session of Parliament is fast approaching without a word on his political future.
The Pointer takes a look at the business left over from 2018 that will preoccupy council at today’s key committee meeting.
Issues that will dominate council debate include what happens to a campus planned for downtown, the state of city infrastructure, and a controversial move by some on council that could see members vote to boost their own staffing level to meet growing demands. If passed, the decision would fly in the face of Mayor Patrick Brown’s call for fiscal belt-tightening across the rest of city hall.
The possible dismantling or restructuring of Peel Region has been in the air for years and on Tuesday the Doug Ford government announced a review of regional governments across the province.
The move is hardly surprising — Ford, Hazel McCallion and Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie have been signalling that change is needed. For Brampton taxpayers hoping the Ontario leader has the city’s best interests at heart, don’t kid yourself. Giving Mississauga what it has wanted for a long time could deeply hurt its neighbour to the north, not that those currently holding all the power care.
Friday’s Ontario-wide lottery to select 25 licence holders who will be allowed to open a legal retail cannabis outlet in the province drew almost 17,000 applicants. One of the winners is Brampton resident Clint Seukeran, who can now pick from the municipalities that allow cannabis sales to decide where he will open his store.
That puts even more pressure on Brampton council’s decision at a special meeting Jan. 21, one day ahead of the deadline for cities to either opt in or out of legal cannabis shops.
Michael Palleschi will represent Brampton as Peel Region forms an overall safety and well-being plan, mandated by the previous provincial government. The aim is to get local leaders more involved with problems at their doorstep.
Palleschi will be part of a panel that also includes councillors from Mississauga and Caledon, experts and residents, all focused on building a safer, healthier community. Over the next two years, they will be tasked with bringing together ideas and solutions to coordinate a new regional effort to prevent the root causes of crime and social decay.
Justice Michael Quigley admits to insensitive language in his ruling against Darren John’s application for legal assistance, but says he “did not intend to make any comment that could be perceived as racist.”
That’s according to a letter from the Canadian Judicial Council after John filed a complaint about the words Quigley used in turning down his request for monetary help in appealing a conviction of uttering threats. The chief justice, the letter says, “is satisfied that Justice Quigley does regret the unintended interpretation of his words.”
A special cannabis forum was held at the City Hall Conservatory Thursday night, and a crowd of 150 showed up, with another 200 watching online. Emotions ran high, and the question of whether recreational cannabis use is good, or very bad, was articulated in emotional outbursts. The town hall gathering sets up a dramatic January 21st council vote about the sale of a legal intoxicant in the city, but unanswered questions about cannabis use, and how it impacts society, are being argued right across North America.
Longtime Brampton-based filmmaker Chuck Scott has for years championed the city as a future arts-hub.
Now, despite recent moves that have hurt the cultural scene in the city, he says it’s time to change the conversation. The arts, which create thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in revenues, could be just the economic driver Brampton is looking for.
A firestorm has spread across Brampton as new changes to GO train service have made an already overcrowded system even worse for thousands of commuters. The changes to routes servicing the city have created onboarding problems and lengthy delays, while cars and platforms have been dangerously overcrowded, according to many riders.
Thursday morning Mayor Patrick Brown went to see how bad things were and he also penned a terse letter to the provincial government. By the afternoon a band-aid solution of two extra passenger cars was announced by the PC government.
Thursday’s town hall meeting drew both passionate support and opposition to retail cannabis stores in the city.
Among the issues: Will legal marijuana reduce or boost crime? Will it keep cannabis out of the hands of kids or make it easier to get? And will having stores in the city (or not) actually make any difference?
Councillors were present to take it all in as they prepare to vote on the issue Jan. 21.
The decision by Justice John Sproat comes as a relief for the City of Brampton as it faces financial struggles that have stalled major projects.
Sproat’s ruling, the conclusion of a legal battle that began almost eight years ago, dismissed allegations that former senior staff were biased against builder John Cutruzzola and unfairly disqualified his company, Inzola, from bidding on a lucrative redevelopment deal.
It’s not clear who will pay the city’s legal costs in fighting the lawsuit.
A provincial online survey to collect ideas for making insurance more affordable is just wasting time, says MPP Gurratan Singh, who has pledged to change rules that he says allow insurance companies to discriminate against Brampton drivers based on their postal code.
The Brampton East MPP says the government should be putting up a bill now to give real relief to Ontario motorists — particularly those in the city, who can pay as much as $1000 more than drivers in Toronto with similar driving records.
Shortage? what shortage? says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government, refuting widespread reports of a cannabis supply boondoggle, while blaming Ontario’s ‘rocky rollout’ of legalized pot on the Doug Ford government’s obsession with undoing the Liberal plan for cannabis under Kathleen Wynne.
Border Security Minister Bill Blair's spokesperson says that, contrary to Ontario’s “excuses,” there is plenty of product available, with 140 licensed producers and a large stockpile.
The province’s insistence that a shortage led to reducing retail licences to just 25 is complicating the issue for Brampton, which must make a decision on opting in or out of retail sales by Jan. 22.
A letter of intent claims the Ontario finance minister was libelled in an anecdote in Brown’s book about a former staff member’s misconduct complaint against Fedeli.
The incident was known to PC leadership before publication of the book, according to Premier Doug Ford, who said in the Legislature that it had already been investigated without a “shred of evidence” being found.
The matter has never been tested in court.
Community concern over a wave of violent crime spread across Brampton in 2018, as the issue remains the number one problem for the city’s residents. While crime needs to be confronted head on by Peel police, local leaders, other levels of government and the public, a look at the statistics over a longer period suggests 2018 might have been an anomaly, not part of a pattern of rising violent crime.
Population growth and other more random factors can sometimes explain increases in crime year over year. Overall, when looking at national and provincial crime statistics and numbers in Peel over the years to understand crime in Brampton and Mississauga, last year has to be compared with broader data.
The decision not to award a contract for replacement of aging water and sewer pipes follows Brampton’s decision to pump the brakes on its revamped streetscape plans.
Waiting will give the city a chance to deal with unknown costs and changes to the transit plan, but it could put downtown in additional peril because of aging infrastructure.
Consultants warned a decade ago that the utilities would be at a breaking point by 2019.
Allegations of misconduct against former senior staff with the City of Brampton and former mayor Susan Fennell have hung like a dark cloud for almost eight years since a $28.5 million lawsuit was filed in 2011.
The city has been admonished for dragging the lawsuit out, forcing motions to be filed so the plaintiff could get documents to help its case and cancelling its own attempt to end the suit before a trial when it withdrew its own motion for a summary judgment. Now, finally, after the nine-week trial wrapped up in September, a decision by the judge is expected soon.
The Pointer provides an account of the key points in the case and the main evidence presented at trial.
Brampton’s new council has been lauded by many as more representative of its people. But is it really? Does the new crew at city hall match up with the city’s demographics? And how does it compare to surrounding municipalities?
Charmaine Williams is the only Black council member in Brampton and Mississauga, where police street checks, or carding stops, have been aggressively supported by the outgoing chief.
Williams has picked up the torch, buoyed by a new report, to end the harmful practice that has targeted young Black men and to push for community-police partnerships that have been eroded. Will the rest of Brampton council strongly support her?
With the Downtown Reimagined plan now shelved because of unknown costs and unknown problems beneath the surface of the city-centre, retailers are anxious as the area continues to show its age.
They say two decades of neglect have done damage to business. But now, with a new council and a new, dynamic plan for the city’s future it's time to begin the transformation right in the heart of Brampton.
With budget season coming over the horizon, it’s time for council members to shake off the holidays and focus on getting the city’s finances in order.
City hall staff has provided the public with a timeline of when to expect what in the budgeting process.
One big-ticket item to be accounted for is the soon-to-arrive Ryerson University satellite campus and downtown innovation centre. Council will have to figure out how to raise the $150 million already pledged for that project — and where the money for many other needed projects will come from.
New councillor Charmaine Williams is ready to pick up the torch to ensure the committee she chairs will take Justice Michael Tulloch’s report on carding seriously and follow through on its sweeping recommendations for policing reforms, welcomed by critics of Peel’s force.
Tulloch’s review of carding across the province, released Dec. 31, concluded that random carding is ineffective, offers low-quality data, and is often practised discriminately — contradicting departing Chief Jennifer Evans’ claim that it’s an invaluable police tool.
His recommendations for a more diverse police force and a deep culture shift could set the tone for dealing with the number one concern of Brampton citizens: crime.
For residents worried about pot shops springing up all across the city, it might not matter if council opts in or out of allowing legal cannabis stores in Brampton. The province has released details of a lottery to decide where the only 25 retail cannabis licences to be issued this year in Ontario will go.
The entire GTA outside of Toronto is slated for just six stores, meaning that even if Brampton City Council decides at its Jan. 21 meeting to allow the stores within city limits, there won’t be a pot shop on every corner — or maybe any corner — in the city for the foreseeable future.
Despite the fanfare associated with pot legalization, a shortage of product means a much slower rollout than expected in cities that opt in across Ontario.
Justice Michael Tulloch’s sweeping review of what happened after “carding” was restricted in Ontario includes a call to ban random stops for gathering intelligence data, better public and police education on the limits of street checks, more diversity in forces that, like Peel’s, don’t reflect the community and a revolution in police culture. Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown and Mississauga's Bonnie Crombie say the new report lays out the way policing should be approached in the two cities.
The judge’s report refutes claims by outgoing Peel Police Chief Jennifer Evans that curtailing carding is connected to an increase in crime.
Residents can choose from several locations and dates to register their opinions with city staff on the issue of pot shops within city limits.
In addition, a town-hall gathering on Jan. 10 at city hall will include a presentation and a panel discussion; if you can’t attend, you can join the live-stream on the city’s Facebook event page.
The information gathered will help council make a decision on whether to allow the stores in the city or not, one day ahead of the Jan. 22 deadline.
Second-year Sheridan College computer science student Sylvia Roberts wants to fire up Brampton residents, to get them more involved in their city. She has been live-tweeting council meetings for a year, and says unaddressed housing issues are only going to worsen with a new university campus in the city. She also wants council to address the plight of seniors in a city with few housing options for them.
She’s raising the alarm through @BramRecorder, hoping to get council moving towards fixing these problems and many others hiding in plain view before the city's residents.
On the last day of the year, here's The Pointer's wrap on 2018. It was a rollicking year that set the tone in a city with huge potential, as residents now look to leaders who emerged over the past 12 months, hoping they will propel Brampton into a promising future. Linda Jeffrey is out as mayor and Patrick Brown is in. Raj Grewal is on the ropes and Doug Ford is looking for a fight.
The issues and people that made headlines throughout a wild 2018 in Brampton serve as reminders of things to come.
Mayor Patrick Brown wants a tax freeze for 2019, but history shows that while wildly popular, such a move can be devastating in the long run. An external audit of City Hall has been ordered and international firm KPMG will report its findings in the new year. Why not wait for a clear picture before setting the city on a course sure to be popular, and possibly fatal?
The Harrison family case, involving the deaths of three Mississauga residents, is one of many that have raised questions about Peel police's investigative practices and the competency of the force.
A newly constituted police board led by Mayor Patrick Brown and Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie will oversee a police department racked with problems over its practices and its poor relationship with visible minority communities, which make up two thirds of the population in the two cities the force patrols.
This is the second and final part of a series that was originally published by The Pointer in September.
As residents look to their newly elected officials for solutions, media reports of violence in Brampton are dominating the headlines, the city’s utilities are in dire need of upgrades, and staff are without a leader to guide them through a watershed time for the city.
Addressing a healthcare crisis and finding $90 million pulled by the province for a new university campus are just two of the many other issues on the agenda. Voters who put them into power will be looking for council members to rise to the occasion as many challenges lie ahead in the new year.
Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown and Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie will join the Peel police board in the new year. The most pressing issue facing the members that oversee the country's third largest municipal police force is the search for a new chief. Jennifer Evans will be stepping down in January and leaves a troubled force that under her leadership has been plagued by officer misconduct and a series of badly handled cases. With violent crime on the rise, many are calling for Peel police to reform itself as critics point to the growing list of problems.
The Pointer originally published this story in September and will feature part 2 of the series later this week.
Gary Collins is a long-time stalwart of the political wars and brings that kind of experience to the communications department inside the mayor's office at city hall. His trustworthiness and ability to build bridges between council and staff are most needed at a time of transition when a laundry list of challenges faces them over the next four years.
Part museum, part gallery, part archive, and part community hub, the Peel Archives Museum and Art Gallery has grown and changed over its half-century of collecting, curating and exhibiting in the fast-growing, cosmopolitan community it serves.
More than just a reflection of the past, or an entertaining spot to view our contemporary social and cultural environment, PAMA hopes to be a place that hosts thoughtful discussion and exhibitions that continue to reflect our dynamic, rapidly evolving region.
Thanks to Habitat for Humanity, seven Brampton families each moved into their new home yesterday, Saturday, just in time for the new year.
Affordable housing is an issue that comes into sharper focus around the holiday season, when thousands of families across the city struggle during a time of giving. Around the world, income inequality is becoming a significant problem as more and more people need help from food banks and housing agencies.
Anti-Muslim agitator Ron Banerjee, pictured here, publicly apologized after making discriminatory remarks about a successful Peel-based restaurateur, who is Muslim. A settlement after a lawsuit was filed compelled Banerjee to say sorry.
But in Brampton’s rapidly growing South Asian community local politicians say more needs to be done to make sure old-world divisions don’t create religious and cultural tensions here.
Peel Region will be setting up its own panel to deal with crime, but Brampton councillors say they need to tackle issues surrounding the rise in crime themselves, given the alarming increase in violence that has rattled residents this year.
Instead of scrapping the city’s committee as staff recommended, they will expand it to include more citizen involvement.
The fledgling transit committee will also be expanded to give residents a place to voice their concerns and hopes — signaling that this council, as one member said, is “paying attention to the details.”
An environmental assessment will help the city solve the downtown flooding risk while opening the way to create a signature urban destination in the heart of the city along its hidden riverwalk.
Ottawa has just committed $1.5 million for the study that promises to lift the floodplain designation hindering redevelopment of Brampton’s moribund downtown area.
The funding comes as local MPs prepare for next year’s federal election, when voters will be watching to see if Brampton’s needs are being looked after.
The City of Brampton’s former top bureaucrat testified earlier this year in the trial for a $28.5 million lawsuit against the city over a controversial $500 million downtown development deal.
On the witness stand she was shown evidence that contradicted her earlier testimony in the case. Dubenofsky told the court she had made “inaccurate” statements in her earlier sworn testimony.
A $2.25-billion project to build a bypass that would take freight trains off the rail route used by Brampton GO train commuters has been ditched by the province.
The Doug Ford government announced a couple of new weekday trips along the Kitchener GO line with the promise that it will achieve all-day, two-way service eventually under new agreements with CN, which owns the congested track.
Commuters impatient for more frequent, less-crowded and electrified service on the line have reasons to be skeptical about the wisdom of ending a project that had already gone through planning and technical analysis.
After almost a decade of stiff tax increases on the city’s share of the property bill, council, led by Mayor Patrick Brown, is trying to give residents some relief next year. An audit has been requested so staff can find efficiencies that will prevent any increase for the 2019 budget.
A 2015 analysis of the city’s finances found that excessive labour costs inside City Hall are not sustainable.
Bill 66, Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, was trotted out a week ago by the ruling PC party just as the legislature disbanded for the year. It could be the death knell for the Greenbelt in Ontario, or kick-up a furious reaction from both the public and municipalities in Southern Ontario that want no part of Doug Ford’s land gobbling plan.
Toronto opted to allow retail cannabis stores and Mississauga opted out, meanwhile Brampton remains in a holding pattern on the issue.
Peel Region, after a motion from a Mississauga councillor, could implement rules banning consumption of cannabis in public spaces when the issue comes back to regional council next month.
While Brampton does some soul-searching to determine the best course, it’s unclear if council will decide to follow Mississauga’s anti-cannabis stance or Toronto’s pro-cannabis position. Either way, what happens next door will have a direct impact here.
Brampton residents voiced strong support for the Main Street LRT route this week, as council moved forward with a unified plan to finally bring higher order transit to the city. Despite some lingering concerns about the Main Street alignment running through the heritage district and other potential barriers along the corridor, the only thing that appears to be an issue is the funding.
The approximate cost of $300 million has not yet been committed by the province.
Studies will also have to be done to ensure an LRT can be built along Main Street.
Few records exist about old water channels built long ago beneath downtown.
Failure to figure out where they are and what needs to be done about them has thrown a monkey wrench into the Downtown Reimagined project.
Wednesday, faced with still unknown costs related to the tunnels and new questions about the LRT and university campus, councillors voted to put the whole thing on hold.
A motion going before Peel Region Council on Thursday could result in a ban on smoking pot in all public areas.
The City of Mississauga voted to opt out of allowing retail cannabis shops in the city on Wednesday.
All of this is putting pressure on Brampton councillors to figure out where they stand on the issue before they need to decide officially on allowing stores in Brampton in January.
No reasons were given for the abrupt split with the man Linda Jeffrey brought in as a “change agent” in 2016.
Schlange, who fired 25 top bureaucrats in a major shakeup soon after his arrival, may be due for a hefty severance.
While the city looks for a new CAO, Joe Pittari, commissioner of corporate services and the city’s leader on the cannabis file, will be filling in.
Gurpreet Dhillon’s motion to move forward with a Main Street LRT, with a tunnelling option to be considered, is on the agenda for Wednesday’s council meeting. The possibility of going underground, suggested by Mayor Patrick Brown, was a way to get every member on board with the plan at last week’s committee meeting.
If passed today, the city will finally move forward with an agreed upon route for a future light rail system. Here are some of the details you should know.
With the city’s debate on whether to allow cannabis retail stores deferred to the new year, two true believers in the potential of the plant are making themselves heard.
One a cancer survivor, the other a recovering alcoholic, they’re going up against Councillor Charmaine Williams, who has signalled staunch opposition to retail shops in Brampton.
If the city wants to opt out, it will need to make that decision by Jan. 22.
Peel Region is ready to move ahead with fixing aging water and sewer lines downtown, but there’s a hitch.
The city is still facing unknown costs on its part of the project, which is to develop a more pedestrian-friendly streetscape.
Between unknowns beneath the streets and big question marks around the LRT and Ryerson campus, staff are recommending pressing the pause button on Downtown Reimagined.
Few issues in Brampton are as polarizing as secondary suites. Many in the city, including thousands of newcomers, rely on these affordable housing alternatives, until they can enter the property market as buyers.
But other residents feel the proliferation of secondary suites, also known as basement apartments, is taxing city services, as Brampton's residential streets become more and more crowded to accommodate dwellers of these popular units. A new council, facing a stretched budget and many frustrated constituents, will have to address this complex issue.
The story has been updated since its original publication in September.
Days after taking office, some city councillors are impatient to hire extra staff, which they claim will improve service to a growing number of constituents sending complaints and seeking help from their local representatives.
Brampton needs to start thinking more like the big city it has become, says Councillor Gurpreet Dhillon, who introduced the motion.
Others say adding 10 staff at city hall is a waste of money in an already stretched budget — and that the offices aren’t big enough to handle them. The city’s finances are already strained because of bloated labour costs. What happens next hinges on a report from the city clerk’s office.
The inaugural session of regional council might be the last in Peel if a group of political dissidents from the provincial and municipal world have their way. But will the possible dismantling of the region and council at the whim of Hazel McCallion, Bonnie Crombie and the Doug Ford government be good for Mississauga, bad for Brampton and Caledon, or will all three suffer? If Ford gets one mega-city, his PC party will feel the political fallout for years to come.
Recent statistics show that Brampton and Mississauga have a problem with increasing rates of youth crime. With money tight across the province, Peel police is looking to the federal government for funding help to curb youth violence.
Local MPs, The Pointer has learned, are now trying to help the force get the money it needs, while Peel police continues with other proactive initiatives to guide the region’s young people away from a life of crime.
Conservatives on the parliamentary ethics committee want to know when the prime minister’s office was informed about the ex-Liberal MP’s gambling problem and possible connections with an RCMP money-laundering investigation.
It’s not clear whether the Brampton East MP, who reneged on his pledge to resign last month, is being investigated in connection with a City of Brampton land deal that he’d received confidential information about, prior to a sale that cost the city an extra $1 million.
Grewal continues as an independent MP after being forced out of the Liberal caucus.
For the second time in as many municipal elections, a longtime Mississauga councillor has been chosen to lead Peel Region as chair of its council. Nando Iannicca won the job thanks in part to some Brampton regional councillors who broke ranks with their mayor.
Martin Medeiros, in a move against Mayor Patrick Brown’s choice, seconded Iannicca’s nomination, which was put forward by Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie, who made her own split, away from the wishes of her one-time supporter, former mayor Hazel McCallion.
A Wednesday motion to reopen the possibility of a Main Street route for light rail, supported by some long-time Linda Jeffrey allies and council newcomers, raised the spectre of another acrimonious term.
Mayor Patrick Brown labelled Gurpreet Dhillon’s motion as “short-sighted” and likely to stoke division in a council that is trying to leave the past behind.
However, a compromise prevailed, raising the possibility that parts of the downtown route, if it ever gets built, might go underground through the city’s heritage district.
Councillors will hold a special meeting in January to decide whether to opt out of allowing cannabis stores in the city, with some questioning the results of a survey showing a slim majority of residents want them.
Meanwhile, the city’s controversial support for the Brampton Beast hockey club and the Riverstone Golf Club purchase were back on the table on Wednesday, behind closed doors.
The Brampton Beast hockey team bailout and the Riverstone golf club purchase are back on the agenda for the first committee of council meeting of the new term.
So are, not surprisingly, two longed-for items that the city just can’t quite seize: an LRT route into the heart of downtown and a university campus Brampton can call its own.
What happens in this meeting, with five new faces around the table — including Mayor Patrick Brown — could help set the tone for a whole new term.
An Environics survey commissioned by the city found 54 percent of Bramptonians somewhat or strongly support allowing private retail sales of cannabis within city limits.
But with the issue on Wednesday’s committee of council agenda for a possible vote (that would have to be ratified next week), some councillors would rather wait and see how the rollout of legal pot is handled in other communities before choosing to opt-in.
The province has given municipalities until Jan. 22 to opt out, for now. Those who don’t could have shops open by April 1.
Brampton’s roster of regional councillors is now set and will play a key role in choosing the new chair of Peel Regional Council this week.
But even with a complete revamp of the mayor’s office and a new-look council taking up residence at city hall, the question remains: will Brampton finally get its just rewards as one of the fastest growing communities in Canada? That would mean more services, more representation, and more respect.
A lot is at stake for each of Peel’s three municipalities, as regional councillors politic for a chair to serve their interests.
Staying true to his election campaign’s main pledge, Mayor Patrick Brown left a packed house at the Rose Theatre Monday night giddy with hope, as the hyper-energetic leader vowed to bring economic development and jobs to the city.
Brown laid out an ambitious agenda for the next four years to lift Brampton out of a decade-long rut. His fellow colleagues on the new council pledged to work as a team to help the mayor fulfill his lofty goals.
Meeting for the first time on Tuesday, Brampton councillors unanimously rejected the city clerk’s recommendation to disband committees focused on transportation options, community safety, and diversity and equity issues.
The move signals a desire by the new council to give special attention to concerns that were top of mind for citizens at the doorstep during the fall election campaign—and to avoid embarrassing missteps in a city that is more diverse than ever.
The actions of Brampton MP Raj Grewal and MP Tony Clement, a former MPP for the city, are jarring.
But the inaction of rookie Brampton PC MPP Amarjot Sandhu is even more troubling in a city whose voters are alarmed by the harm an elected official is doing to the place where they live.
Of 11 members, the mayor and four councillors are new, creating a more diverse governing body and possibly a new dynamic on a council that had been widely considered dysfunctional.
The last government left several major issues unfinished and the incoming members will have to pick up where they left off. Some hot topics: opting-out of cannabis stores in the city, funding the Ryerson University campus and restarting the sputtering LRT debate.
Social services issues at the region and for Mayor Patrick Brown, who will sit on the police board, mounting public safety concerns will all be part of a busy agenda for the city's leaders.
MP Navdeep Bains was asked about a photo showing him with a director of a Brampton company that sold a 20-acre property to the city early this year for about $1 million more than the municipality was originally going to pay.
The Pointer reported last week that former mayor Linda Jeffrey’s chief of staff gave confidential details of the city’s deal with the province to buy the land to Bains and MP Raj Grewal. The deal fell through and the land was sold to a company that flipped it back to the city at a large profit.
In question period Monday, Bains denied any connection to the company. The company released a statement saying it did not receive any confidential information about the deal.
The company that bought a parcel of land from the province then sold it to the City of Brampton for the Goreway Bridge project has released a statement aggressively denying it used any information from politicians or political parties to help it acquire and sell the property.
The statement comes days after Brampton East MP Raj Grewal and Mississauga MP Navdeep Bains, who received confidential information about the city’s negotiation with the province from Linda Jeffrey’s chief of staff, denied sharing the information with anyone.
Brampton East MP Raj Grewal released a video to The Globe and Mail published late Friday, in which he details his gambling debts and declares he will quit the Liberal caucus, but leaves open the possibility of holding onto his riding seat.
Grewal also says he did not disclose confidential details about a proposed Brampton land transaction that he received, unsolicited, from Linda Jeffrey’s chief of staff.
The MP says he gambled recreationally since university, but the habit developed into a mental health issue when he started to play high stakes blackjack at an Ottawa-area casino next to the hotel he stayed at as a parliamentarian.
He apologized for his behaviour, to his family, constituents, colleagues and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Maple Leaf Foods is moving to consolidate operations in a new state-of-the-art plant to be built in London, Ont., by 2022.
Brampton’s aging facility, which employs 324 unionized workers, will close in the process, along with two others in Toronto and Perth South.
The move means more jobs in London, but the loss of a mainstay of the local economy marks yet another blow to Brampton’s dwindling blue-collar employment base.
The results of a City of Brampton investigation into a real estate transaction that cost taxpayers $1 million extra has been sent to the RCMP, after councillors learned Brampton East MP Raj Grewal and Mississauga MP Navdeep Bains were given confidential details about the pending deal—including the agreed price—by Linda Jeffrey’s chief of staff, Hasneet Singh Punia.
The provincially owned property, needed to fix a traffic bottleneck at a railway crossing on Goreway Drive, was instead sold to private investors, who flipped it back to the city months later well above the price the city and province had agreed to.
If GM can suddenly call a halt to production in “Canada’s Automotive Capital” on the grounds that few are buying sedans anymore, can auto workers at Fiat Chrysler’s Brampton plant feel safe?
Like Oshawa, they’re building gas-guzzling sedans, a category quickly losing market share to SUVs and crossover vehicles. Meanwhile, the industry is moving toward the cars of the future: green and autonomous vehicles.
For municipal leaders, including new mayor Patrick Brown, Oshawa’s woe is a warning to make diversifying the city’s economic base a top concern.
An infusion of cash announced Wednesday will help a small Niagara hospital upgrade its aging facilities, a move trumpeted by Premier Doug Ford as part of “our plan to end hallway healthcare.”
The promised $8.5 million will go toward new infrastructure for the hospital.
Meanwhile, fast-growing Brampton’s desperately overcrowded hospital is seeing no signals of help from the province.
The federal government’s ethics commissioner was investigating Grewal over the appearance of favours given to a construction company from which he also received income, according to public disclosures.
Now, a Brampton law firm that was paying Grewal is not speaking publicly about its relationship with the former MP or what work he did for the firm while serving as an elected official.
The ethics watchdog responsible for complaints against MPs says the probe into former Brampton East MP Raj Grewal over his relationship with a local builder invited on a trip to India in January will continue, despite his recent resignation due to gambling problems.
Meanwhile, The Globe and Mail has reported details of an RCMP investigation into Grewal’s gambling and some of his recent spending that led to significant debt, including millions spent at an Ottawa-area casino.
Peel police wants to increase its budget next year by almost three times the current rate of inflation in Ontario.
Citing her concerns over increased violent crime, the lame-duck head of the force, departing Chief Jennifer Evans, has presented the police board with a proposed $423-million budget for 2019.
That represents a 5.4 percent increase over last year, money that will help in hiring 55 additional officers to deal with rising crime and the fallout from pot legalization.
But there are questions: With an expensive new contract kicking in next year, putting every single first-class constable on the Sunshine List, will Peel Region buy it? And will the Doug Ford government cheapskate Brampton again, by withholding its policing grant?
Departing Brampton mayor Linda Jeffrey still hasn’t thrown her hat in the ring but acknowledges that she’s been “approached” about her interest in a job that, while out of the public spotlight, demands the sort of deep knowledge and experience a former mayor possesses.
Picking a new chair will be one of the first orders of business on Dec. 6, when a reconstituted Peel Region Council gathers for the first time since the municipal election.
Also waiting in the wings are several former Brampton and Mississauga councillors, and former Liberal MPPs who lost their seats in last June’s provincial election.
On Friday, a diversity and equity audit examining hiring, promotions and other practices inside Peel’s police force was expected to be revealed publicly at the last board meeting of the current term. It wasn’t.
A private firm handed it to the board in the spring, but it continues to play games with the community it’s supposed to serve.
Compliant, inexperienced police board members in the past, including a car salesman and a real estate agent close to Hazel McCallion, seemed more interested in approving tens of thousands of dollars to buy tickets for swanky private galas than in holding the force accountable.
Rookie Brampton backbencher Raj Grewal quit unexpectedly, amid a probe into an official trip to India he took with a Canadian businessman whose company had Grewal on its payroll, at the time.
The PMO now says that a serious gambling addiction was the reason for the resignation. Grewal leaves his vacated Brampton East MP seat open until next fall’s federal election. In the meantime, constituents will probably have to look to neighbouring MPs for any help with official matters.
Brampton’s unemployment rate is 46 percent higher than Ontario’s, and city residents who depend on social assistance while trying to re-enter the workforce will fall further behind under the PC government’s plan, announced Thursday.
A 1.5 percent overall increase in payments won’t even keep up with inflation.
But the government is promising a more coordinated approach to helping people find work and leave the system permanently.
Despite hints that a long-awaited equity and diversity audit report would be released during the Peel Police Services Board’s final meeting of the year, there was no mention of the audit on Friday’s agenda.
The Peel Coalition Against Racialized Discrimination says the report was actually completed in April but hasn’t been made public because it contains embarrassing details on how the force has failed to reflect the diverse community it serves.
Chief Jennifer Evans, who plans to retire in a few weeks, provided no information on where the report is or when it will be released.
A new Peel Police Board with the new mayor of Brampton and a new regional chair will have to find a new chief to replace Jennifer Evans, the controversial head of a force plagued by officer misconduct and allegations of systemic discrimination.
As violent crime spirals out of control, Brampton and Mississauga need a chief with fresh ideas who can bring a new, modern style of policing to one of the fastest growing, most diverse and complex regions in the country.
Set-top devices popular in the city’s large immigrant communities, and readily available in dozens of video stores, make it easy to employ illegal streaming services that are commonly used by people who appreciate cheap access to programming from other parts of the world.
But the business of piracy is a costly problem for licensed media outlets, large and small — including independent operators that once thrived by serving diaspora communities and offering legally obtained news and entertainment in languages such as Punjabi.
Trying to fight the illegal practice poses problems, as attempting to restrict access to pirated websites could lead to a violation of Charter rights.
Justice is not being served in Brampton, a judge has written in a scathing indictment against the provincial government for failing to properly fund the city’s main courthouse.
Cases are being delayed, there are not enough courtrooms and some people involved in matters before the court are being denied basic rights to access justice, wrote senior regional judge Peter Daley, who called out the provincial government Monday in a sharply worded report over its continued failure to take responsibility of the justice system in Peel.
The increasingly desperate situation at the Brampton courthouse on Hurontario Street is another issue on a growing list of poorly funded provincial services, including healthcare, public safety, regional transit and education, that are not keeping up with the city’s rapid growth, which is mandated by the province.
Rapper Darren John says he can’t afford a lawyer to fight his conviction on uttering threats against his former promoter.
But a judge who was to determine whether he gets help to pay for one brought quite a few observations into the mix beyond evidence given in court of his financial need.
The first question Peel politicians will need to deal with in this new council term is the future of policing in Brampton and Mississauga, where much will depend on the choice of the next police chief — and how willing the provincial government will be to pony up for more cops and resources to tackle rising crime.
Mayor-elect Patrick Brown has vowed to push for more resources in the community and on the police force. But will he go for new blood or push to hire within?
That’s just one of many questions faced by the Peel Police Services Board while awaiting the results of a police diversity audit, due out this week.
Brampton Mayor-elect Patrick Brown’s new memoir breaks the mould of stodgy, predictable political biographies that employ pedestrian language to bore readers into submission. Unlike other books beside it on store shelves, it’s not likely in this coming holiday season that copies of Takedown will be moved to the remainder bin.
It currently sits atop Amazon Canada’s bestseller list for political biographies where it stands out from other books in the staid genre.
It’s a tell-all thriller and political takedown of Ontario Progressive Conservative Party bosses that paves the way for someone, perhaps Brown himself, to begin a new Conservative movement in Ontario.
In Chapter 5 of his memoir, Takedown: The Attempted Political Assassination of Patrick Brown, titled “Night of Knives,” Patrick Brown describes what happened during the frantic hours after he learned of the allegations against him: the betrayal of trusted members of his team, the chaotic midnight conference call that sealed his fate, and his desperate attempt to persuade his party to let him tell his side of the story before killing his career in provincial politics.
Read the entire chapter in this exclusive excerpt on The Pointer.
(The language includes profanity and may be offensive to some readers)
Though it will come too late for last Sunday’s centenary of the end of World War I, a new memorial wall will provide a more fitting tribute to the 163 Bramptonians who have died fighting in Canada’s wars.
The project, the subject of a rare unanimous vote by city council, will be built in Ken Whillans Square once plans for a renewal project in that area are completed.
Meanwhile, the Royal Canadian Legion’s local branch is dreaming about what the project will look like when it’s finally erected next to the long-standing cenotaph.
Takedown: The Attempted Political Assassination of Patrick Brown was released at a Brampton launch party on Friday, already a top seller for its publisher.
The coming-out party at Carl’s Catering The Glen drew media, residents and the city elite, eager to hear how Brown expects to handle the fallout of his bridge-burning book about his meteoric rise and fall as leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative party.
Brown shrugged off concerns, saying he hadn’t made any new enemies with the book.
The newly elected mayor of Brampton reflects on his spectacular rise, fall and resurrection from the political ashes of last January’s sexual-misconduct allegations in a wide-ranging interview with The Pointer.
He talks about his support of the #MeToo movement despite being caught in the “eye of the storm”, the “catharsis” of writing a book, why he doesn’t care that it will burn a lot of bridges and what he hopes to do for the city as he returns to municipal politics.
Takedown: The Attempted Political Assassination of Patrick Brown, has raised a ruckus even before its bookstore launch this Friday, with its pull-no-punches invective against Tory caucus members who ousted him from the party leadership last January.
The anger on both sides is palpable but should come as no surprise to observers of the fraught party politics that surrounded Brown’s ascendancy to the Progressive Conservative leadership and his tumultuous fall from grace within hours of a CTV story that made allegations of sexual misconduct — allegations he continues to vigorously deny.
The Hurontario LRT is critical for bringing higher-order transit into the city of Brampton. Now it looks like the project may be on the chopping block.
Following discussions with ministry reps, the Ontario NDP transit critic says the government under Premier Doug Ford is refusing to deny rumours that the Hurontario LRT project is set to be cancelled.
While the Conservatives claim they have yet to make any decisions surrounding the future of the project, the uncertainty itself is not a good thing for Brampton.
Brampton’s mayor-elect has penned a remarkably revealing political exposé detailing the spellbinding circumstances that led to his public dismemberment following allegations of sexual misconduct.
He has vigorously denied the claims, and now details his version of the events that stripped him of the chance to be Ontario's next premier.
The Pointer will feature an exclusive interview Thursday with Brown, a day before the official launch, and an excerpt from the book, the complete chapter titled Night of Knives, this Saturday.
Missing the Remembrance Day ceremony at city hall was just the latest example of rookie PC MPP Amarjot Sandhu’s ghost-like presence.
Sandhu may have been elected to represent the interests of residents of Brampton, but he has either voted against legislation crucial to Bramptonians at Queen’s Park or been absent during such votes.
The Brampton West MPP has also been largely unavailable for inquiries from the media, to the point that his voice mailbox has been full for months.
In the midst of Peel Region’s worst ever crime wave, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government is giving $200 million to provinces to help disrupt the inner workings of black-market gun sales and gang activity across the country.
An additional $86 million investment in the RCMP and the Canada Border Services Agency may make a difference, particularly in stemming the flow of guns over the border.
But despite a Brampton MP’s attempt to promote her government’s tough on crime initiative, it remains unclear how the city, currently reeling from a guns and gangs epidemic, will benefit directly from an infusion of badly needed funding as the city's violent crime problem continues to grow.
Among the many unresolved issues inside Queen’s Park that could deeply impact Brampton’s future, decisions about funding the city’s transit needs are among the most important. With huge potential to attract jobs and investment, higher order transit could be the catalyst to move the city forward.
But as traffic congestion becomes more crippling every day, it remains unclear if Doug Ford’s PC government will invest in Brampton’s transit needs, even if a new council under Mayor-elect Patrick Brown puts forward a decisive plan for the city’s future.
Three high-profile resignations by Conservative politicians and a staffer over allegations of inappropriate sexual behaviour in recent weeks, including MP Tony Clement’s admission of ‘sexting’ women, have Brampton MPP Sara Singh and others concerned about the conduct of men in the corridors of political power.
Singh lashed out at Premier Doug Ford inside Queen’s Park Monday, accusing him of trying to cover up the allegation against former PC MPP Jim Wilson, who resigned from cabinet and the party caucus two weeks ago, when officials claimed it was over “addiction issues”.
Wait times to file family court documents in Brampton’s Superior Court of Justice reached nearly five times the ministry standard earlier this year and remain among the longest in the GTA.
While a stiff increase in the number of people going to court without lawyers — and often struggling to figure out court bureaucracy — is a problem across the province, Brampton’s courthouse is particularly hard hit, frustrating court staff and ordinary litigants alike.
With no plans to increase staff or counters at the Hurontario Street court, it’s not clear when Bramptonians will see relief.
MP and former Brampton MPP Tony Clement, who retains deep ties to the city, issued a letter to his Parry Sound constituents Thursday evening apologizing for “acts of infidelity” to his wife and admitting that he “crossed lines that should never have been crossed.”
The open letter comes less than 48 hours after the news of the sexting scandal exploded, triggering Clement’s ouster from the Conservative caucus and his departure from a prominent position on Canada’s National Security Committee.
Clement’s wife, Lynne Golding, a Brampton native and prominent lawyer and author, issued her own statement on Wednesday, saying Clement would be “taking the action he needs to get help.”
While momentum builds for changes at Queen's Park to address Brampton's sky-high auto insurance rates, many who have been dealing with the issue for decades say some elected officials in the city are misrepresenting the facts. Higher rates of costly accidents, possibly due to excessive speeds that are allowed on many of the city's streets, can lead to more expensive insurance fees.
Other reasons not related to postcode discrimination could also contribute to Brampton's exorbitant auto insurance prices, according to some in the industry.
In a city that cannot afford any more reputational damage over controversy involving senior staff and council members, Guy Giorno’s decision to step down as integrity commissioner because of his long-time ties to Mayor-elect Patrick Brown leaves a hole that newly elected officials will need to fill, despite the sometimes uneasy relationship with the person who holds them accountable.
After a series of scandals in a number of large cities, new provincial law makes having an integrity commissioner mandatory in every Ontario municipality.
Meanwhile, the position of lobbyist registrar, which Giorno also filled, is now open at a time when the city looks for ways to limit influence by corporate interests, especially developers, on important decisions, such as land use.
Long-lived regional councillors are due for hefty pensions after as much as 30 years in office, on top of the unusually large severance payments they voted for themselves while sitting on city council several years ago.
The mayor, after only four years in office, is entitled to a more modest pension. But altogether, departing council members could end up, in the long run, receiving more than $2 million.
The long-time Conservative politician is dealing with a professional and personal crisis after admitting he sent inappropriate images to a woman. Things are moving fast around the MP and married father of three, as his party leader, Andrew Scheer, asked him on Wednesday to resign from the federal Conservative caucus.
As the news spreads, in an era when political survival after similar scandals has become hard to predict, Clement has made claims of extortion as a motive behind the story, and is now asking for privacy.
Brampton City Council will have just 48 days after being sworn in to decide whether to opt out of allowing cannabis retail stores in the city, which would mean turning down potential revenues in favour of waiting to see what impact legalization will have on community health and safety.
The short timeline, which follows the Doug Ford government’s decision to move away from LCBO-like regulation to allowing private retail sales, will mean a council with five new members will need to grapple quickly with a host of issues — and some sharply differing opinions among its constituents.
More than 50 percent of Brampton’s residents were born outside Canada. With the federal government’s announcement that it plans to welcome 350,000 newcomers into the country annually as of 2021 — the highest level in the modern era — city officials wonder how Ottawa plans to help the municipality, where a disproportionate number of immigrants settle.
The city’s finances are already stretched, hospitals are beyond capacity, affordable housing is vastly underfunded, and other services aren’t keeping up. A local Liberal MP, Raj Grewal, says city council needs to do a better job of advocating for Brampton’s needs.
Within Brampton's diverse mix of faith groups, one of the city's smallest religious communities offers inspiration to all, even as many of its members fear a return to darker days.
The impact of events south of the border, as nationalism gets stoked by politicians and those using it as a way to deal with economic hardship, is being felt right here in Brampton.
Brampton City Council and Ryerson University representatives gathered Friday for a special meeting to consider next steps after the province pulled out of a $90-million commitment for a satellite campus in the city.
While optimism was expressed about the project going ahead on schedule, it remains unclear where the missing money will come from and if the location chosen by the previous provincial government will be changed.
Notably absent from the council meeting were Brampton’s two Progressive Conservative MPPs, who were invited after defending their government’s decision to cut the funding.
Brampton car owners pay an average of $2,268 annually for insurance, 70 percent more than the provincial average. Critics say many insurance providers discriminate against the city’s drivers and use postal code data to target areas where rates are hiked dramatically.
But a move Thursday by Brampton NDP MPP Gurratan Singh inside Queen’s Park to end the practice was voted down by the ruling PC government, which favours a plan by one of its MPPs to reduce rates that could still be passed. Critics of that plan say it will not end postcode discrimination in Brampton.
An appointment to the position of Peel Region chair is still more than a month away, but speculation is swirling about the potential candidates. The decision of who will serve, which the new council will make on Dec. 6, could set the tone inside Peel Region chambers for the next four years.
Will Linda Jeffrey throw her hat into the ring? Will Mississauga, with its heavy vote count, insist on a Mississauga candidate? Will Brampton councillors who backed Patrick Brown get a boost?
Either way, with Brampton looking for more seats at the table—and more clout—and Mississauga’s mayor wanting to pull out of Peel altogether, the chosen chair could be in for a rocky ride.
Four retiring city councillors together stand to receive close to $730,000 from taxpayer-funded severance as they leave office this fall.
Gael Miles, Elaine Moore, John Sprovieri and Grant Gibson are entitled to one month’s salary for every year served at city council, up to 18 months — an extremely generous cap that the four voted for themselves back in 2013 under Susan Fennell’s leadership, despite a consultant’s report that showed the average severance paid by municipalities is 5.5 months.
According to the formula, each could receive nearly $127,000 from the city and a further $56,000 from Peel Region, which caps payouts at 12 months.
Despite this year’s high-profile municipal election, voter turnout was down in Brampton, to an embarrassing 34.5 percent. That should prompt new mayor Patrick Brown to look for ways to nurture the political engagement of Bramptonians when it comes to the day-to-day issues that matter most.
The Pointer takes a look at the ups and downs of political turnout in Peel Region and the GTA, and some suggested solutions to the widespread attitude of “I don’t know and I don’t care” when it comes to municipal politics.
A survey conducted by Toronto Region Board of Trade shows that a large majority of residents of the GTA-Hamilton-Waterloo region think a proposal for consolidating transit systems under a single entity — dubbed “Superlinx” — makes sense.
The board’s president says the current system, which sends municipalities begging to higher governments for transit money, hasn’t worked, so it makes sense to send decisions to a body “where growth revenues, planning authority, and financing capacity already exist.” Some 87 percent of the Peel Region residents who took part in the board’s online panel agreed that the idea has merit.
But what happens when Brampton’s needs are pitted against, say, Scarborough’s remains an open question.
The trial for a $28.5 million lawsuit still hanging over the city heard from three retiring Brampton councillors, who testified that a number of issues around a controversial $500 million downtown development deal raised red flags.
The $205 million price of the city hall expansion, costs that should have been paid by the builder for a 377-day delay and a building that is too close to the street were some of the issues they addressed during the trial that wrapped up last month.
After Premier Doug Ford's shocking decision last week, Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath’s move to put the money for Brampton’s Ryerson University campus and two others in the GTA back into the coming year’s provincial budget goes down to defeat in the legislature Monday.
Brampton’s two PC MPPs, Amarjot Sandhu (Brampton West) and Prabmeet Sarkaria (Brampton South), were notably absent from the vote, after leaving the chamber shortly before the decision.
The traditional turban, which Sikh motorcyclists want to wear instead of a helmet, has a long and noble history as a symbol of the faith. Many consider it an indispensable and defining part of their identity.
An Ontario private member’s bill introduced by a Brampton MPP may finally succeed in bringing the province in line with other jurisdictions that have exempted observant Sikhs from helmet laws.
Doug Ford’s short-sighted decision to cancel funding for Brampton’s first full university campus won’t stymie the energy and ideas of young students and entrepreneurs determined to become the best they can be, both academically and economically.
But with all that Brampton represents and contributes to the provincial and federal governments, instead of using it as the launch-pad for their political parties’ election campaigns, they need to make investments to move the community forward.
Brampton MPPs have been busy inside Queen's Park as a pair of bills hit the floor touching on issues very close to the city.
Motivated by lobbying from the Sikh Motorcycle Club of Ontario, Prabmeet Sarkaria (Brampton South) tabled a bill earlier this month—with club members present—that would exempt turban-wearing Sikh motorcyclists from the helmet requirement. That bill arrived on the floor for second reading earlier this week receiving discussion and support from both sides of the aisle.
At the same time MPP Gurratan Singh brought forward his own bill looking to tackle Brampton's sky-high auto insurance rates.
The PC government’s universities minister had no answer Thursday to pointed questions about how much money had already been sunk into three university campus projects before their provincial funding was abruptly cancelled this week.
A City of Brampton official said its planned Ryerson University campus and an accompanying innovation centre project will move forward, though it’s not clear how it will make up the $90 million contribution promised by the previous government.
The city’s two PC MPPs are echoing the party line, claiming a budget deficit made the cuts necessary, despite projections that the campuses would be huge revenue generators.
Brampton’s two Tory MPPs remained silent Wednesday on the loss of $90 million promised for a Ryerson University campus in the city—cancelled within a day of Patrick Brown’s win in the mayoral election. Meanwhile, inside Queen's Park NDP leader Andrea Horwath and three Brampton NDP members of the legislature were calling the move myopic and disastrous for the city’s economic plans.
The Doug Ford government claims the money promised by the former Liberal government—and cheered recently by some Tory MPPs whose constituents stood to gain a new campus—was too much for the province’s strained budget.
After Doug Ford's government made its shocking announcement Tuesday night, pulling $90 million in funding for a new Brampton university campus that had been approved by the previous Liberal government, councillors say they are committed to finding alternative ways to pay for the project.
Critics of the decision to pull the provincial funding say the university would be a huge economic benefit for the city, and that the project is far too important to abandon.
“It’s not the Brampton I thought I knew,” one-term mayor Linda Jeffrey said Monday night in expressing her disappointment at the surprising ascendancy of her late rival in the race, former PC leader and newly repatriated Bramptonite Patrick Brown.
Jeffrey replaced a controversy-plagued mayor with promises to straighten out the financial mess at city hall. Despite her early successes at doing just that, she stumbled when it came to solving the bigger problem: a fractious council whose squabbling left residents disillusioned with her leadership. On Monday, voters opted, however narrowly, to give Brown a chance to do better.
In stunning fashion, Patrick Brown completes a spectacular political comeback, defeating incumbent Linda Jeffrey to become Brampton’s next mayor. Some 44 percent of the vote was enough to seal the deal, completing a campaign that has been both divisive and a clear view into the issues affecting the city.
In a victory speech before a cheering crowd, Brown recounted a number of these issues, while also delivering his message for the future.
Charmaine Williams, seen here, is one of the new Brampton councillors who will lead the city. While attention was focused on the Brown-Jeffrey matchup as the election drew to a close Monday night, there were exciting changes happening at the ward level.
Four fresh faces on council, boosting diversity at city hall, and a new mayor may significantly change the dynamic in the coming four years — if old divisions on issues such as transit don’t begin to play out all over again.
Can Patrick Brown rise above the petty political in-fighting that has ruined the chance to rule by the last two mayors in office, and find common ground? Can he set aside campaign nastiness for the kind of teamwork that made a couple of people named Davis so successful in their political and sporting lives? He will answer these questions very soon after his impressive win that makes him the 51st mayor in the history of Brampton.
One possible move, involving his recently vanquished opponent, could be a win-win for everyone, especially for the city.
Of Brampton's and Mississauga's 23 elected municipal representatives, only one is a visible minority. That should be shocking, considering that about 65 percent of the cities' residents identify as a visible minority. But it’s actually all too familiar. The lack of corresponding ethnic representation on councils across the GTA is an issue minority communities and civic activists have been raising for years.
With Brampton’s population growing at three times the national average, the future will bring a growing list of diverse needs. Is it perhaps time to take this issue seriously in deciding how we vote?
Brampton citizens and the leaders they are set to elect must show a burning desire to move away from the destructive forces that have held this city back since it was reformed after the installation of regional government in the early 1970s.
Since then, a series of clashes and long-held grudges have defined the lack of leadership that has kept Brampton from reaching its potential.
It's an unfortunate reality that municipal elections tend to favour the status quo, for the simple reason that incumbents possess the name recognition, the connections and often the leg-up on fundraising that typically lead to success.
For newcomers, especially those who violate most elements of the political stereotype — older, white, male, and well-connected — the path to election is much more difficult.
Yet, there are challengers, willing to take a risk and prepared to burn shoe leather going door-to-door in hopes of becoming a game-changer.
The Pointer takes a look at one such candidate.
Brampton’s growing healthcare crisis was front and centre in the provincial legislature Tuesday as members hurled accusations at each other over the failure to adequately care for patients in the city.
After stories were told of city residents languishing in hospital hallways at Brampton Civic, NDP leader Andrea Horwath, supported by three of her party’s Brampton MPPs, failed to push through a motion to fund a third hospital in the city. Premier Doug Ford and Brampton’s two PC MPPs did not show up for the vote.
The debate became deeply divisive, with MPPs attacking each other over who is responsible for the desperate conditions inside the city's only full-service hospital.
A poll by Forum Research published exclusively by The Pointer shows Patrick Brown and Linda Jeffrey are in a dead heat just days before Monday’s election. Forum surveyed 647 eligible voters in the city Thursday.
Brown was eight points behind Jeffrey, but in a little less than two months his dizzying campaign has managed to pull him even. Voter turnout, depending on which side can more effectively pull supporters to the polls, could determine Monday's result.
It’s not a secret to Brampton drivers that they’re forced to pay some of the highest auto insurance rates in the country. Some blame high rates of fraud and high-speed collisions that increase the cost of claims in the Brampton area—which end up costing everyone who lives in certain postal codes as much as $1,000 more per year than drivers in other parts of the GTA. Now, a pair of private member’s bills from two sides of the aisle at Queen’s Park have come forward to address the issue.
Brampton NDP MPP Gurratan Singh introduced a private member's bill Tuesday at Queen's Park. He says he's heard enough talk on the issue, and like the thousands of Brampton drivers desperately seeking action, Singh says it's time the government does something about crippling auto insurance rates in the city.
The City of Brampton, Brampton Fire and Emergency Services and Peel Regional Police gathered Tuesday for a question and answer period to provide one final push of information ahead of the official legalization of cannabis.
As of October 17, the law now allows smoking or vaping pot in a host of places where ordinary cigarette smoking is currently allowed, absent municipal bylaws to place further restrictions on it. Brampton City Council has yet to gather public feedback on the law and its potential impact on the city, never mind deciding what it will do about allowing private pot shops within the city’s borders—which could come as soon as April.
The Pointer breaks down the perspectives of Brampton officials and what legalization may mean for residents of the city.
Ahead of his nine-day trip to India, which is wrapping up, The Pointer asked Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer if he would address with Indian officials the increasing concern being raised by advocacy groups and others about the country’s deplorable human rights record.
Brampton North federal Conservative candidate Arpan Khanna joined Scheer, seen here with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in India, and just like other politicians from the city who travel there, he was silent on the issue of the country’s treatment of women, religious minorities and “lower caste” residents.
But both Scheer and Khanna did take time during the visit to criticize a nearby country’s human rights record.
Incumbent mayor Linda Jeffrey, late in her campaign for re-election, has just released a transit plan for Brampton. It signals that she will again make the Main Street LRT route a key transit priority.
The current council term became mired in dysfunction when Jeffrey tried and failed to get the Main Street option pushed through shortly after her election.
Her new set of transit pledges also appear to include a rejection of the plan put forward, and approved unanimously by council, under the comprehensive Vision 2040 document, which outlines how the city should manage its future growth. Jeffrey's new platform could be a sign that, if re-elected, she would scrap much of the transit planning already underway.
Linda Jeffrey scored a big endorsement victory yesterday as local MPs and MPPs from all three major parties showed across the aisle support for the incumbent mayor. It's a significant sign that Jeffrey would be able to work with both levels of government if re-elected.
The announcement came less than a week after iconic Brampton politician and former Ontario premier Bill Davis threw his support behind Patrick Brown, the former Ontario PC leader who is Jeffrey's main rival in the mayoral race. With a week left before the October 22 municipal election the competition between the two clear front-runners seems too close to call.
With two clear front-runners in the race to be Brampton's next mayor, here's The Pointer's breakdown of the big issues facing voters and what Linda Jeffrey and Patrick Brown have said about them, ahead of Monday's municipal election.
The Pointer commissioned a poll in late August to find out what's top of mind for Brampton residents. Only 36 percent of eligible voters cast a ballot in 2014, but hopefully a more informed public will mean more people out at the polls, as the city faces a watershed election with many major issues that will determine its future.
Former Ontario PC leader Patrick Brown, who is running to be the next mayor of Brampton, lays out his vision to The Pointer's readers in an op-ed.
For generations, the single-family home has been the holy grail of housing: a status symbol that has permeated the societal mindset and created wide, sprawling expanses of suburbia across the GTA, including Brampton. Data shows that the desire to own such a home has been passed on to the millennial generation. Nearly 60 percent of millennials could be on the hunt for a new home in the GTA by 2026.
That desire is on a collision course with the reality painted by the most recent report from the United Nations International Panel on Climate Change. Our way of life needs to change drastically—and fast—if the planet is to avoid catastrophic damage.
A new report from Ryerson University describes one potential solution, but grasping it may involve a massive shift in how we think about what makes a home.
Controversial Peel Police Chief Jennifer Evans announced Friday that she will be leaving the force in January. She informed the police board that oversees her of the pending resignation two months after it approved a probe of Evans' conduct by a police watchdog for the bungled investigation into three Mississauga family members who were found dead years apart.
After battling the board for much of the past four years, over issues such as carding, a practice she has strongly defended, Evans was given a two-year extension last year. But she announced that she will depart early in the coming new year.
It's a controversial issue: how do you balance Canadian values and laws protecting religious accommodation with saftey and fairness concerns that surround the Ford government plan to exempt Sikh-Canadians from wearing motorcycle helmets?
Local MPP Prabmeet Sarkaria, a turban-wearing Sikh, was a driving force behind the move announced by Ford in Brampton yesterday. In a place where Sikh-Canadians make up such a huge part of the city's fabric, The Pointer asked citizens here, politicians and experts what they think of the move by Ontario's government.
Patrick Brown gets a bump, after former Ontario premier and legendary Brampton politician Bill Davis "officially" showed his support for Brown, incumbent Linda Jeffrey's main rival, at an event Tuesday evening.
In what some are already calling a surprise move, after Davis backed Jeffrey four years ago, the show of support might prove significant in an already close mayoral race between the two clear front-runners.
The leader of the federal Conservative party is in India on a mission to “repair and strengthen” Canada’s relationship, following a controversial trip early in the year by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
But human rights won't be on the agenda. The Pointer asked Scheer if issues such as the widespread rape of women, attacks against religious minorities and the barbaric treatment of hundreds of millions of India’s “lower caste” residents would be addressed.
As is the case when Brampton politicians and other officials go there, human rights seems to be out of bounds. Canada’s position with India is inconsistent with its stance toward other countries, despite conditions that human rights groups describe as alarming and getting worse.
Jeff Chalmers thinks political engagement is the key to making positive decisions for the city's future. His unscientific polling method, to get people involved, has street cred. In fact, he has literally taken his form of surveying to the streets, in his mobile chrome eatery that serves up food-to-go while gauging the political pulse of the city.
Chalmers wants citizens to get interested in the decision-making process that impacts their daily lives. There's no better way to pull them in than food. With political polling being an inexact science that has, over the years, employed thousands of people and cost millions of dollars, The Pointer asked Chalmers, over a plate of one of his famous dishes, about the latest results from his recent poll, which asked patrons who they would pick in the race to be Brampton's mayor. You might be surprised by what he found.
An op-ed by incumbent mayor Linda Jeffrey on why she wants Brampton voters to re-elect her in the October 22 municipal election. She makes her case to The Pointer's readers.
Ontario’s healthcare dollars should be distributed according to numbers and need. So why has Brampton – one of the fastest growing cities in Canada – been shortchanged, again?
Why isn’t part of the $90 million being handed out by the Ford government at Queen’s Park to help eliminate ‘Hallway Healthcare’ going to the city where the phrase was popularized in the first place?
Bramptonians have been looking to the provincial government for help to solve bottlenecks in the healthcare system that have led to bed shortages and hallway medicine at the city’s only full-service hospital, but it was ignored in a new funding plan announced Wednesday.
While the Ontario government’s growth targets for Peel Region continue to push Brampton’s population to a breaking point, Queen’s Park seems disconnected from the resulting problems, such as the city’s healthcare crisis.
With more than 4,300 Brampton Civic Hospital patients treated in hallways in 2016 The Pointer asked the two new Progressive Conservative MPPs, Prabmeet Sarkaria and Amarjot Sandhu, how they are representing Brampton’s interests inside their government as the healthcare crisis continues. They didn’t have much to say.
No part of Wednesday’s provincial government announcement of $90 million—$10 million less than the Liberal government under Kathleen Wynne offered at the start of the last flu season—will go toward relieving the crisis at overloaded, overcrowded Brampton Civic Hospital, whose rash of “hallway medicine” stories helped turn the problem into a provincial election issue last spring.
Nor is there any indication of how many of the promised extra long-term care beds will come to one of Canada’s fastest-growing cities, whose rapidly expanding healthcare needs and the urgency of fixing them already form a major issue in the upcoming municipal election.
If elected mayor, Patrick Brown pledged during a Thursday morning announcement to ease the city's crippling traffic. His plan touched on many issues Brampton residents have raised for decades, such as securing all-day, two-way GO Train service, but he offered few details about how he will actually achieve the ambitious set of promises he outlined.
In a recent poll commissioned by The Pointer, reducing traffic congestion was the number one issue respondents chose, when asked what they want council to focus on during the upcoming term.
The new-look North American free trade agreement fixes some, but not all of the inequities in the original NAFTA, and eases the tensions for the business community in Brampton. But at the macro level, Canada is trying to create a new-style business model that is impervious to American interests and Donald Trump’s bully-boy tactics. The new deal provides motivation for local and national companies to take stock of opportunities around the world, for them and our well-educated, dynamic workforce.
In recent weeks, the idea of effective representation has been thrust into the spotlight as Premier Doug Ford took a legislative axe to Toronto City Council. Can 25 people effectively represent almost three million constituents? Municipal councils across the GTA, whose members find their workload growing as the region booms, are struggling with the same question. Nowhere is this more clear than in Brampton, the second fastest growing city in Canada. What do we need here to feel effectively represented by our local elected officials?
Do we want them answering endless calls about snow on sidewalks and the annual pothole hysteria; or do we want them addressing complex urban planning issues and how to handle the challenges of modern policing? Or do we expect them to do it all? Speaking with councillors across the GTA, from Oshawa to Brampton, it’s apparent that people who hold the position often see the role differently.
Evidence presented recently at trial by a company that alleges it was unfairly disqualified from a $500-million downtown development deal shows Inzola Group’s bid to build the city hall extension was a little more than half the $205 million being paid by the City of Brampton for the building.
Evidence also suggests the finished building does not provide the amount of required administrative space detailed in the bid contract for the deal.
Thousands of the city’s auto-sector workers were on pins and needles while U.S. President Donald Trump repeatedly threatened tariffs as high as 25 percent on Canadian-made autos, which could have crippled the industry. A new deal officially announced Monday, clears the way for Ontario’s huge auto industry to keep expanding.
News wasn’t as rosy for the agricultural sector, particularly dairy producers, including companies in Brampton. The new deal could see more than $700 million of additional foreign dairy products enter Canada annually.
But the agreement might bring relief to Brampton’s large aluminum and steel sector, which was hit hard by recent U.S. tariffs.
While Ontario Premier Doug Ford doesn’t appear to know where exactly his government will allow legal marijuana to be used once new rules come into effect next month, Brampton officials, including incumbent mayor Linda Jeffrey, aren’t even sure if the city will opt into plans to allow retail outlets next year.
Brampton’s diverse community groups, another council member says, will likely introduce a range of cultural values into what’s sure to be a complex debate on legal marijuana, one the city has not yet even initiated. With other GTA cities vowing to prevent pot sales, will a new council be ready to tackle this major issue?
Linda Jeffrey’s hopes to ease into re-election on Oct. 22 were shattered by the late entry onto the ballot of Patrick Brown.
Jeffrey’s performance during a debate Tuesday, which included pointed attacks on Brown and references to the scandals that got him turfed as Ontario PC leader, often failed to convey the sense of a mayor ready to unite a city desperate for leadership.
Mississauga’s massive $1.5 billion M City project is just one of many 905 developments that Brampton’s stagnating downtown is missing out on without a firm commitment by city leaders to finally resolve the decades-old downtown flood problem.
Critics say Brampton will struggle to keep up with surrounding cities that are quickly shedding their status as suburban bedroom communities.
While places like Mississauga continue to boom, with constantly rising skylines, Brampton’s downtown remains hampered by strict floodplain restrictions that make it difficult to create a dynamic city centre.
Incumbent mayor Linda Jeffrey made her stance on the city’s current LRT study quite clear during a boisterous debate at Brampton’s Rose Theatre Tuesday night, calling alternative routes “foolish” and decrying the layout put forward in the ambitious Brampton 2040 Vision plan.
The debate also saw mud-slinging from all sides with Jeffrey’s main contender Patrick Brown taking the chance to criticize the lack of foresight in Jeffrey’s adamant support for the Main Street route, which council already turned down, while pushing his repeatedly used campaign slogan that Brampton is not getting its fair share.
U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum are already hurting firms in Brampton, and with the possibility of more levies on products such as cars built by Fiat Chrysler here, Donald Trump's anti-NAFTA stance could undermine the future of almost 4,000 workers at the Williams Parkway plant, and others.
With a huge manufacturing base, tens of thousands of Brampton workers could be negatively impacted by a bad trade deal, as the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement remains uncertain. While negotiations continue on the international level, many in the city are keenly aware of how big the stakes are locally.
With a new council soon making decisions inside city hall, a new provincial government and a new visionary plan for Brampton's future, a proposed Light Rail Transit system is surrounded by uncertainty. After council turned down a provincially funded $1.6-billion route that would have seen an LRT roll right into Brampton’s ageing downtown core, the city must now find alternative ways to get people moving. It could mean big spending on behalf of taxpayers. The Pointer takes a step back and looks at how Brampton arrived at this juncture, and what the future could bring as the population booms and efficient transit becomes even more crucial.
One thing is clear, the city can't afford another four years of council gridlock, largely caused by the LRT debate that dominated the current term.
With alarmingly low voter turnout, municipal elections in Brampton tend to proceed along depressingly predictable lines. Front-runners for the mayor’s job are usually drawn from a list of familiar names at city hall or higher levels of government. But this year a lineup of lesser-known candidates, such as lawyer Wesley Jackson, provides voters with some refreshing insights into alternative viewpoints and passionately conceived ideas about how to make the city stronger, wiser and richer in the things that make for a good life.
On September 20, The Pointer hosted a mayoral debate for all candidates in partnership with Sheridan College. Incumbent Linda Jeffrey called in sick, opening the floor for the other six registered contestants in the race, ahead of the October 22 municipal election. With a panel of four Brampton citizens asking most of the questions, the lively debate, which ran for more than two hours, offered voters insights about who to pick on the ballot.
To help voters make the important decision, here is The Pointer’s breakdown of each candidate's performance during the recent debate.
Linda Jeffrey did not attend Thursday evening's debate for mayoral candidates. In her absence Patrick Brown impressed audience members who frequently applauded the policies and vision for the city he outlined during more than two hours of lively debate at Sheridan College. Five other candidates also took turns introducing themselves to voters, many of them often criticizing Jeffrey, describing her as a failed leader with little support on her own council.
But Brown was the star of the night, evidenced by the vocal support expressed by many of the approximately 150 people in attendance.
This evening The Pointer will host a mayoral debate in partnership with Sheridan College, featuring all seven candidates registered for the October 22 municipal election. The Pointer believes it’s a critical time for the city as it faces a number of challenges and opportunities that will define the future of Brampton.
Political debates are a critical part of our democracy. They provide voters the opportunity to see the candidates in action, to get a real sense of how they handle pressure and relate to the citizens they hope to serve. The Pointer welcomes Brampton voters to come and attend this important event.
In this article we are publishing two key questions the election front-runners will be asked during the debate, as well as the criteria The Pointer will use to break down the performance of each candidate afterward.
After city council meetings were cleared off for most of the summer, with Brampton facing an onslaught of serious issues, all meetings have been cancelled from mid-September on to let councillors wrap up their term at city hall and campaign for re-election in the Oct. 22 municipal vote. Meanwhile, pressing issues such as increasing violent crime, choosing a route for an LRT system, funding for desperately needed hospital expansion and a long-term strategy for a new university campus are on the growing list of items awaiting serious council debate and decisions.
Amid plans to boost federal immigration targets, Brampton faces a newcomer-based population explosion without adequate funding for hospitals, affordable housing, transit and expanded policing. The annual Liberal barbecue attended Saturday by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Brampton’s five Liberal MPs drew politicians, but no promises that help is on the way to fund services related to the city’s growth.
Progressive, community-based policing, modern technology, sophisticated intelligence gathering, the cooperation of citizens and a force that reflects the community it serves, are features experts outline to help curb violent crime.
With increasing violent crime, public frustration and slow responses from officials, Regional council considers what’s being done as Brampton residents question who’s keeping them safe.
Peel Police chief Jennifer Evans was not at Thursday’s meeting to answer questions, including those raised by incumbent mayor Linda Jeffrey, who is now fighting her chief rival in the election, Patrick Brown, over who will best deal with crime in the city.
Some are wondering if their promises are too little, and too late.
In the final day of closing arguments in Inzola Group’s lawsuit against the City of Brampton, lawyers for the City defended its assertion that the company was rightfully disqualified from bidding on the deal. They attempted to poke holes in the case presented by Inzola’s lawyers and discredited a key witness, in an effort to dispel the cloud surrounding the decision-making process for what was to have been a $500-million downtown redevelopment.
In the first of two days of final arguments in the case of Inzola Group versus the City of Brampton, lawyers for Inzola delivered their final jabs against the city, summing up evidence of bias and lack of good faith presented throughout this summer’s lengthy trial. The Pointer breaks down Inzola’s final argument, ahead of the city’s final submissions to be delivered Thursday.
John Sprovieri feels politics is best done by those with experience. He’s not even close to the winter of his life, according to him, and says the mayor’s job would be a perfect way to cap thirty years of service to his city.
A chatty, one-on-one interview on a sunny summer morning in August with him ends with a jarring reminder of how vexing life in Brampton circa 2018 can be.
Evidence presented at trial by a company that alleges it was unfairly disqualified from a $500-million downtown development deal indicates some internal documents were altered before and after the company filed suit against the City of Brampton.
Peel’s police force has been racked with bungled investigations, officer misconduct, including serious charges against some members and problems with racialized communities in the diverse cities it serves. Critics say the force has no interest in being held accountable, and acts as if it’s above the law.
The woman who wants to be mayor again, opens up about her personal triumphs and struggles over three decades in politics, and the challenges of leading a complex city with a bitterly divided council.
She talks with The Pointer about the disease she battles. And issues such as hyper-growth in the city, crime and her failed LRT plan that have stretched the incumbent mayor for four years.
Now, as the municipal election looms, she wants voters to let her finish what she’s tried to start.
Those are the numbers that represent the percentage of eligible voters who cast a ballot in each of Brampton’s last three municipal elections held in 2014, 2010 and 2006. So, one third of the city’s residents are deciding how the other two thirds will be governed.
An exclusive poll commissioned by The Pointer shows that almost a quarter of eligible voters have this one issue at the top of their list of worries heading into the October municipal election.
On Friday, Linda Jeffrey and Patrick Brown, the two leading candidates in the race to be mayor, traded blows over who will best handle the alarming issue.
With Brampton gripped by a recent crime wave, concerns mount that frequent misconduct in the force is putting public safety at risk.
A look at one of the most divisive issues in Brampton. It centres on a sometimes reviled yet arguably necessary form of affordable housing: secondary suites, a.k.a. basement apartments, nanny suites, or additional units.
With population growth nearly 10 times the national average these suites may be a necessary evil in Brampton.
Patrick Brown’s year began with a ten-point lead in the race to become premier. Allegations of sexual misconduct soon followed, and moments later the forced departure from the PC leadership. With his battle for the soul of the conservative movement in Ontario lost, Brown now hopes to cue his political comeback by winning the race for mayor of Brampton.
Brampton's is one of the hottest municipal races in the country. A Forum Research poll commissioned by The Pointer reveals the preferences of the city's voters on a host of key issues as mayoral candidates ramp up their campaigns ahead of the Oct. 22 election.
For the seven week sprint find out how things are shaping up, as residents decide who will steer the country's ninth largest city into the future.