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.