Predators and a pandemic: parents urged to protect children as online exploitation projected to rise

Predators and a pandemic: parents urged to protect children as online exploitation projected to rise

With children stuck inside, more and more are turning to the internet and social media to entertain themselves and stay connected with friends, unaware they’re being targeted.

The presence of child sexual abuse material is rising dramatically – triggering calls for popular sites like Pornhub to be shuttered for not doing enough to remove abusive content.



Brampton needs a visionary with principles and expertise, like Jennifer Keesmaat, to lead our city into the future

Brampton needs a visionary with principles and expertise, like Jennifer Keesmaat, to lead our city into the future

Does this city want a professional star and visionary to occupy the office of chief administrator or someone who will just keep the seat warm while the real powers that be, the politicos, continue to flail away at trying to turn this into a world class city? The next big hire at city hall will be the most important one yet – and could impact Brampton for decades to come.



Loved ones remember Chris Rix, Peel paramedic who lost his battle with PTSD

Loved ones remember Chris Rix, Peel paramedic who lost his battle with PTSD

The high-pressure, high-stress world of a paramedic’s daily work contributes to a rate of suicide almost triple the national average. PTSD took the life of Peel paramedic Chris Rix two years ago.

His widow, Michelle, and work partner Caitlin remember Chris and the deep inner pain that led to his untimely death at the age of 40.



Transportation Minister reannounces more train service on the Kitchener line

Transportation Minister reannounces more train service on the Kitchener line

Caroline Mulroney, along with Metrolinx CEO Phil Verster, MPPs Prabmeet Sarkaria, Amarjot Sandhu and Kinga Surma were at Brampton GO on Thursday to announce expanded service on the Kitchener line.

Just like they did two weeks ago, with no further details. 



Changing of the guard: trio of new police chiefs has power to modernize the course of policing in Canada

Changing of the guard: trio of new police chiefs has power to modernize the course of policing in Canada

Nishan Duraiappah in Peel and Peter Sloly in Ottawa are among the progressives recently named chiefs of major municipal police forces.

Their fresh perspectives could shake up entrenched police cultures that have created a divide between officers and the people they serve and lead to a more community-based approach to crime prevention.



A Brampton couple’s love of food might help save our planet

A Brampton couple’s love of food might help save our planet

The fate of food production will be front and centre when two billion more people populate this planet by the year 2050. A Brampton couple has started a company that blends old-style gardening with new techniques in urban agriculture to feed us with wholesome food.

While the earth battles a climate crisis, a world-wide movement called agroecology might help save us from ourselves. This is now playing itself out in full leafy colour on the streets of downtown Brampton.



Education minister offers assurance to parents despite rocky negotiations with teachers

Education minister offers assurance to parents despite rocky negotiations with teachers

With only a few days left before the start of school Ontario teachers still don’t have a new contract.

The province and union teams are negotiating quietly, but there appears to be no imminent deal before contracts expire Saturday Aug. 31. Education Minister Stephen Lecce might update the situation later today.



Brampton council hopes to have new CAO in place by December

Brampton council hopes to have new CAO in place by December

A special meeting on Wednesday affirmed the appointment of executive headhunting firm Odgers Berndtson to recruit a new top bureaucrat for the city.

December will mark a full year since former chief administrative officer Harry Schlange was fired. 



As Hurontario LRT moves forward, the sting of Brampton’s indecision lingers

As Hurontario LRT moves forward, the sting of Brampton’s indecision lingers

Amid a raft of big federal announcements for transit in the runup to this fall’s election, there’s reason for Brampton to be jealous of places like Toronto, Quebec City and London.

Neighbour Mississauga can celebrate how its provincially funded LRT is moving ahead with the choice of a project manager. But Brampton’s absence from the largesse list can be traced to city council’s dithering.



Ontario can expect payoffs from putting more cash into prosecuting human traffickers, advocates say

Ontario can expect payoffs from putting more cash into prosecuting human traffickers, advocates say

Stronger supports for survivors through the court process could result in more convictions as well as less traumatic outcomes for human trafficking victims.

It’s a big issue for Peel, which has an extremely high incidence of sex trafficking. But it’s not clear how much of a $54-million crime fund just announced by Ottawa and Queen’s Park will help the region deal with a rapid uptick in cases.



Update: With a week left before school begins, teachers’ unions mum on contract talks

Update: With a week left before school begins, teachers’ unions mum on contract talks

Unions aren’t speaking out on the province’s last-minute backtracking on controversial key issues — including high school class sizes. But they’re also in the thick of talks to renegotiate their contracts, which expire this Saturday. It’s not clear how the Doug Ford government’s latest decision, after months of public backlash, will affect the new school year, which begins next week.



Province and Ottawa announce gang-violence funding and special bail team for Peel

Province and Ottawa announce gang-violence funding and special bail team for Peel

The province and the federal government uncharacteristically came together Monday to reveal a $54-million fund to combat violent crime in Ontario.

Peel Region will also be home to an “intensive firearms bail team,” a group of Crown attorneys that will provide expert feedback on firearms offenders whose requests for bail are under review.

 



In Doug Ford’s world homeowners are the enemy

In Doug Ford’s world homeowners are the enemy

Last week’s annual meeting of Ontario’s 400-plus municipalities featured lots of backtracking by the ruling PC government after its plans to download even more costs onto homeowners. Property taxpayers are being crippled by all the costs falling on their shoulders. If the federal and provincial governments are incapable of growing the economy to increase public funding, cities and towns have to be given more revenue tools. Otherwise, homeowners will drown in property taxes.



Brampton cyclists fight an uphill battle in the car-crazy city; bike-friendly communities enjoy a different reality

Brampton cyclists fight an uphill battle in the car-crazy city; bike-friendly communities enjoy a different reality

The city’s Cycling Advisory Committee is gearing up to submit its proposed Active Transportation Master Plan to the Brampton planning committee. The plan includes creating an ambitious cycling network. But there are big challenges to be overcome if Brampton wants to realize the dream of becoming a more active city.



Province’s sudden reversal of unpopular class size increase for 2019 leaves Peel boards in chaos

Province’s sudden reversal of unpopular class size increase for 2019 leaves Peel boards in chaos

Having already planned for staffing cuts in response to the PC government’s plan to dramatically increase high school class sizes, Thursday’s surprise announcement to scrap the move, just two weeks before school starts, has thrown Peel’s two public school boards into the wringer. The boards already sent layoff notices to teachers in anticipation of having fewer classes, and some courses were put on the chopping block. But now, the boards will have to scramble to recalibrate the entire high school system based on the existing classroom size caps. 



Part 3: In the fight against human trafficking, first responders can play a crucial role

Part 3: In the fight against human trafficking, first responders can play a crucial role

Nurses and doctors in the emergency room. Lawyers working in our courts. And even firefighters who respond to a range of calls in the community.

They all brush up against the victims and perpetrators of human trafficking. For those fighting this growing global crime, certain professions that deal closely with the public, often when people are in distress, can be an invaluable resource. Building bridges with them is the first step.



Peel parents express disappointment in Ford government’s flip-flop on sex ed curriculum

Peel parents express disappointment in Ford government’s flip-flop on sex ed curriculum

Ontario’s Minister of Education Stephen Lecce announced on Wednesday the rollout of the province’s much anticipated revised sexual education curriculum.

Doug Ford had promised to scrap the Kathleen Wynne-era framework, but the new plan borrows heavily from the same approach used by the previous Liberal government, despite the premier’s election pledge. The move has left some parents in Peel upset.



Confronting crime before it ever happens

Confronting crime before it ever happens

A community safety plan to focus stakeholders on curbing youth violence in Peel as a new chief is set to arrive, is the key to addressing the rise in crime. A new regional plan mandated by the province is now taking shape, just as the incoming chief of police is set to take over the third largest municipal force in the country in October. He says crime has to be approached with an “upstream” strategy, tackling the root social and environmental factors that push young people in the wrong direction.



“Rewarding someone for a bad decision; I wouldn’t go that far,” Brown says about Peel Public Health funding increase

“Rewarding someone for a bad decision; I wouldn’t go that far,” Brown says about Peel Public Health funding increase

Health Minister Christine Elliott announced Monday that  all municipalities across Ontario will share costs of public health funding on a 70-30 ratio. For the Region of Peel, this was good news as it will lighten the cost of paying for public health. The region has previously covered 37 percent of the pricetag. But Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown warns that provincial cuts in other areas will pose a significant challenge for the city’s taxpayers.



Part 2: New champions needed to bolster the fight against human trafficking

Part 2: New champions needed to bolster the fight against human trafficking

It only takes one spark to light a local politician into action on behalf of a worthwhile cause. The rising rate of human trafficking in our cities should propel our local leaders to join advocacy efforts around the world.

The ongoing annual meeting of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario is the perfect place for the latest warrior in the fight against this modern form of slavery to emerge. All it takes is for the light to be switched on. 



Province expands GO service on Kitchener line, but all-day, two-way trains still a dream

Province expands GO service on Kitchener line, but all-day, two-way trains still a dream

A big step toward achieving GO train service that runs all day, both ways, through Brampton is coming in September. Minister of Transportation Caroline Mulroney, along with Metrolinx CEO Phil Verster, announced the addition of scores of new trips on several lines, including 50 new trains per week on the Kitchener line.



Addressing the growing problem of human trafficking requires resources, and concern

Addressing the growing problem of human trafficking requires resources, and concern

A who’s who of municipal and provincial leaders are in Ottawa this week to schmooze, plan and discuss some of the most pressing concerns facing municipalities today.

In this first of a three part series, The Pointer looks at three reasons why the issue of human trafficking should be among them.



Brampton councillors ready for their 15 minutes of game at AMO gathering

Brampton councillors ready for their 15 minutes of game at AMO gathering

The game at the annual conference of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario is simple: give a provincial minister what amounts to an elevator pitch for priority projects that need the big bucks. Councillors get 15 minutes to present their wants — a new LRT, a new hospital — to each minister and see if they can make their priorities stick. Here’s what Brampton councillors will be pitching in Ottawa starting today.



Justin Trudeau is on the ropes; a new book offers a raw look at the man trying to hang onto his title

Justin Trudeau is on the ropes; a new book offers a raw look at the man trying to hang onto his title

Journalist John Ivison has penned a profile of Justin Trudeau, as Brampton voters and many other Canadians decide whether or not the son of a formidable former leader has what it takes to steer our country during these politically volatile times.



While India and Pakistan push closer to confrontation, two communities come together at city hall 

While India and Pakistan push closer to confrontation, two communities come together at city hall 

Ceremonies marking the independence of Pakistan and India on consecutive days this week brought together two Brampton communities. It was a refreshing opportunity to mingle, despite international tensions in the background over Kashmir. The two countries have a long history of animosity since they were carved from a singular entity; in one of the world’s most diverse cities, the communities strive to celebrate their shared Canadian values, while leaving behind the decades-old tensions that define bitter attitudes in the sub-continent.



Brampton and Mississauga’s rate of increase in violent crime tripling Canada’s over last five years

Brampton and Mississauga’s rate of increase in violent crime tripling Canada’s over last five years

Police and municipal leaders like to point to stats showing that Mississauga and Brampton have a lower rate of violent crime than many other cities.

And while that’s true — for now — just-released national crime statistics show that the violent crime severity rate is worsening three times faster here than the national average.



They stole, lied about it, and were caught, but plea deal for four Peel cops leaves unanswered questions

They stole, lied about it, and were caught, but plea deal for four Peel cops leaves unanswered questions

Four officers who resigned from the Peel police service last month accepted a one-year conditional sentence after admitting to obstructing justice following a bizarre theft of a Scarface movie character’s statue from an accused man’s storage unit.

The criminal defence lawyer who brought the theft — and their lies about it — to light thinks neither the police service nor the court went far enough in making an example of them.



Update: Health Ministry invests in local mental health care, but wheels grind slowly on Brampton hospital expansion 

Update: Health Ministry invests in local mental health care, but wheels grind slowly on Brampton hospital expansion 

The provincial government’s list of contributions to Brampton healthcare this year includes more than $2.5 million for mental health and addictions services. But it says it’s still waiting for capital planning submissions for the single infrastructure project that’s already on the books: phase two of Peel Memorial Centre, a preventative wellness facility that offers traditional and alternative health care. 



City moving ahead with Institute for Sustainable Brampton

City moving ahead with Institute for Sustainable Brampton

Brampton has committed to working seriously on developing a new environmental institute that will coordinate green activities and advise council on a broad range of decisions that affect sustainability.

The city has hired a consultant to work on refining the concept. But David Laing, who leads a group developing and championing the idea, has concerns about what direction the municipality wants to take the project — and how citizen advocates will or won’t be involved in shaping it.



Incoming chief talks priorities and vision for Peel police

Incoming chief talks priorities and vision for Peel police

Nish Duraiappah will be the first Ontario police chief of South Asian heritage when he takes over the Peel Police Service in October. But in a wide-ranging interview with The Pointer, the Twitter-savvy father of three waves off that historic point to reflect on the changing community role of policing, how to build a progressive, diverse and forward-thinking police force in Peel, and ways to curb violent crime before it happens.

In a police service described as “change-averse,” the widely praised Halton Region deputy chief has a steep challenge ahead.

 



Brampton healthcare gets a pittance while other cities move forward on hospital projects

Brampton healthcare gets a pittance while other cities move forward on hospital projects

Money to add 168 new long-term care beds is good news for Brampton, but that’s a drop in the bucket in this fast-growing city. Here’s a look at how Vaughan and other cities around Ontario are benefiting from millions in provincial healthcare dollars, while Brampton continues to cope with a single full-service hospital too small for its burgeoning population. 



Search for new CAO finally underway, nine months after Harry Schlange firing

Search for new CAO finally underway, nine months after Harry Schlange firing

Council voted last week to establish a committee to find a replacement CAO, but it’s not clear why it took so long.

The city’s top job has been occupied temporarily by Joseph Pittari, who is rotating back to his old position as commissioner of corporate services. Al Meneses will serve as acting CAO in the interim, just another round of the musical chairs game afflicting senior management.



Will Grewal run again? Brampton East MP still hiding from the question

Will Grewal run again? Brampton East MP still hiding from the question

Raj Grewal, the controversial Brampton East MP, has largely stayed mum and dodged media attention since remaining in Parliament as an independent, after being kicked out of the Liberal caucus last November amid a gambling scandal. But with the federal election around the corner, his silence about whether he plans to run again has added tension rather than dispersing it.



Brampton election slate filling up as fall election nears

Brampton election slate filling up as fall election nears

While a few party nominations remain unannounced, your choices on the Oct. 21 ballot are becoming clearer.

A look at the contenders for Brampton’s five federal seats, currently held by four Liberals and an Independent.



GO Transit users need not fear privacy breach, expert says

GO Transit users need not fear privacy breach, expert says

Ontario’s former privacy commissioner says she’s satisfied Metrolinx’s plans to share “aggregated” data on transit riders with companies will not violate the privacy of individuals.

But Metrolinx’s rollout of its plan to seek corporate investment through naming rights and data-sharing wasn’t handled with proper transparency, critics say. And Brampton MPP Sara Singh isn’t convinced that riders whose movements are tracked on their Presto cards won’t see negative effects.



What is 5G, and why is Brampton interested in it?

What is 5G, and why is Brampton interested in it?

The city has initiated a study of 5G wireless technology, which if implemented has the potential to put Brampton at the forefront of a sweeping transformation of business and daily life.

But super-fast wireless internet speeds could also open the door to breaches of privacy on a grand scale.



It’s a deal: council agrees to $7.3M contribution to expand Algoma campus

It’s a deal: council agrees to $7.3M contribution to expand Algoma campus

The Sault Ste. Marie-based university’s increasing presence in downtown Brampton will boost the student body to 1,000 with a mix of high-demand programs designed to attract local high school grads.

It’s a modest but hopeful step toward achieving the city’s longtime dream of a university-level post-secondary campus downtown.



Brown’s ultimatum to province ahead of AMO conference: give us what we want or lose Brampton 

Brown’s ultimatum to province ahead of AMO conference: give us what we want or lose Brampton 

It’s just over a week before the annual Association of Municipalities of Ontario conference, a sort of speed-advocacy forum where cities make their case to the province for a range of funding needs. Mayor Patrick Brown says that if the Ford government doesn’t deliver on some key issues, the ruling Conservatives will end up going the way of their predecessors and lose their seats in Brampton.  



Update: City to advocate at AMO for keeping Peel Region as-is

Update: City to advocate at AMO for keeping Peel Region as-is

Councillors plan to approach Minister of Municipal Affairs Steve Clark on Aug. 18 with a plea not to break up — or amalgamate — Peel Region after the province’s current review of regional government.

The annual Association of Municipalities of Ontario conference offers a rare opportunity for city leaders to buttonhole provincial ministers, if only for 15 minutes on a Sunday evening.



Algoma University seeks $7.3M from city toward ambitious $34.4M Brampton campus expansion

Algoma University seeks $7.3M from city toward ambitious $34.4M Brampton campus expansion

Less than a year ago, Brampton’s hopes for a thriving university campus downtown were dashed by a $90-million snub by the Doug Ford government. Councillors meeting today will ponder a proposal that could renew those hopes. Algoma, a tiny Northern Ontario university, hopes to grow its Brampton campus by introducing “high demand” programs in fields such as computer science, psychology and community economics for at least 1,000 students. 



Liberals nominate unknown Maninder Sidhu to challenge Raj Grewal

Liberals nominate unknown Maninder Sidhu to challenge Raj Grewal

Sidhu, the only applicant, has been acclaimed as the Liberal nominee for Brampton East, which means he will run against ex-Liberal Raj Grewal.

For voters, he’s a mystery man; he has said little about himself publicly, and there appears to be no information about his candidacy online. But much of this is more common than you’d think.



Yes, ban plastics, but give us alternatives, Bramptonians tell Ottawa

Yes, ban plastics, but give us alternatives, Bramptonians tell Ottawa

If the federal government under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau goes ahead with a ban on single-use plastics, it will have plenty of local support, judging from The Pointer’s informal survey of residents. Climate change and the health of our oceans are big concerns for lots of people. But most say they want to make sure good options are available when the ban goes into effect starting in 2021. 



In Brampton, and across Canada, youth anxiety is becoming an epidemic

In Brampton, and across Canada, youth anxiety is becoming an epidemic

Recent research raises concern about the state of our youth, particularly girls and young women. Increasing rates of anxiety and self-harm are being reported across the country. But researchers are unsure of the cause.

Increased time on screens and the expectations created by many social media platforms, or other unknowns that lurk in the dark corners of the cyberworld, could be part of the problem. But no one seems to know exactly why rates of anxiety among youth are increasing so dramatically. 



A new police chief will have to prove himself, but two mayors deserve credit for their bold step

A new police chief will have to prove himself, but two mayors deserve credit for their bold step

He’s the best person for the job. That’s the message about incoming Peel police chief Nishan Duraiappah, who takes over at the start of October. He has a rocky hill to climb, with a force plagued by recent controversies.

A status quo approach to stick with an internal hire was the politically safe move for Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie and Brampton’s Patrick Brown. But they chose instead to do the right thing. Public safety and building trust with the community drove the two leaders to find their man, despite all the pressure they faced.



The joy of cricket played with pace in the perfect city to grow the game

The joy of cricket played with pace in the perfect city to grow the game

Brampton’s international Global Twenty20 cricket tournament being played over two weeks at the CAA Centre, attracting some of the best bowlers and batsmen around the globe, highlights the game’s promise in a country that has long had a fringe interest in the sport.

Speeding it up for 21st century tastes might just be the key to growing a wildly popular pastime that enjoys a cult following in many other parts of the world.



Part 2: Where does Brampton’s LRT project go from here?

Part 2: Where does Brampton’s LRT project go from here?

It has been four years since an infamous vote in 2015 effectively killed the Main Street LRT. It has since been revived, but the debate has changed: will it run on the surface or in a tunnel? A whole host of issues will need to be pored over before any shovels go in the ground to build the better transit Brampton needs.



Anaerobic digestion facility set to revolutionize what happens to your green bin

Anaerobic digestion facility set to revolutionize what happens to your green bin

A $108-million processor to be built on Orenda Road in Brampton will change the way composting is done in Peel Region, producing not only agricultural fertilizer but a non-fossil form of natural gas — and in a way that eliminates the “stinky air” issue.

It’s all part of Peel’s ambitious plan to divert 75 percent of curbside waste collection from landfills.



The new face of policing in Peel: Nishan Duraiappah named chief

The new face of policing in Peel: Nishan Duraiappah named chief

A Sri Lankan-born officer with a sterling reputation as a deputy chief in neighbouring Halton Region will take over the helm of the Peel Regional Police Service in October.

Duraiappah is being hailed as “an inspirational and aspirational leader” and the “next generation of leadership,” who will bring fresh perspectives and innovation to policing in Peel. His hiring offers a chance for a police service living under a cloud of systemic discrimination, inside and outside, to open a new chapter.



Brampton’s Bill Davis turns 90

Brampton’s Bill Davis turns 90

Today’s political scene is riddled with nasty and brutish attack ads and the polarization of positions, which makes many long for a quieter and gentler time when talk was civil and voters churned out leaders like Brampton’s Bill Davis, the old lion of provincial politics who celebrated a major milestone this week.



Learning in a new land leaves international students vulnerable

Learning in a new land leaves international students vulnerable

An ongoing study finds financial instability may be one reason for a seemingly high incidence of sex-for-money trades by international students studying at Sheridan College and elsewhere in Peel Region.

That raises concern about the vulnerability of students to becoming victims of sex trafficking in a region with a human trafficking rate double the national average.



Provincial backtracking on controversial changes to autism program leaves many families waiting months longer

Provincial backtracking on controversial changes to autism program leaves many families waiting months longer

Monday’s announcement that the province would work on developing a “needs-based” support program in consultation with parents and experts came as welcome news to families with autistic children who have protested sweeping changes to autism support. Minister Todd Smith apologized for the anxiety a misbegotten plan had caused. But the changes won’t come until next spring, leaving many families in Brampton and across the province in limbo.



It’s deja vu as Ottawa gives Brampton Transit $11 million toward electric buses

It’s deja vu as Ottawa gives Brampton Transit $11 million toward electric buses

Brampton will be getting eight electric buses as part of a trial for new “plug-and-play” recharging equipment that may make it possible to keep them on the road nearly non-stop.

But Monday’s federal announcement by Environment Minister Catherine McKenna echoes a very similar one from the province a year earlier, when the Kathleen Wynne government promised $13 million towards the same thing.