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.