Brampton’s three NDP members at Queen’s Park have been critical of the Ford government’s healthcare policy since he and the PCs took office last June. They joined their leader Andrea Horwath at a Brampton town hall gathering this week, and channeled the ghost of Tommy Douglas, the father of the NDP, and universal healthcare in Canada. The public vented their frustrations with a system that many said cheats Brampton citizens out of their fair share of funding and is putting lives at risk with dangerous overcrowding inside the city’s only full-service hospital. The Ford government counters that it’s simply time to rein in out-of-control costs, and it has a “patient-centred” plan that will do just that.
The funding formula to win fiscal assistance for Brampton is skewed by a miscalculation of population numbers. While Queen’s Park is pulling back any commitments here, Ottawa and MPs like Ruby Sahota and Raj Grewal seem eager to help Brampton overcome infrastructure shortages – largely because it’s an election year. But the city is being shortchanged by both higher levels of government. Brampton has to find a better way to calculate its population numbers and create a business model to get its fair share of funding from the upper tiers of government.
The 4:50 p.m. express train home from downtown Toronto — loss of which caused an uproar back in January — is back to stay, along with a few other improvements to Brampton GO train service, including an added morning train to Union Station and an extra four cars on another.
But Bramptonians eager for relief from overcrowded trains and a congested commute have years to wait for the all-day, two-way GO service the province has been promising for years.
Metrolinx is now saying that goal won’t be achieved until 2025.
Mayor Patrick Brown rightly describes as “remarkable” the first tax freeze in many long years in Brampton, approved Wednesday night.
But it was achieved by cutting money from some areas, such as public works, that may leave residents frustrated in the long run.
Here’s what will happen with your tax dollars this year.
Peel police just nabbed almost 30 firearms, 1,500 rounds of ammunition, and narcotics with a street value of $1.2 million, in a single bust.
That’s a lot, but just a drop in the bucket compared with the yearly haul of illegal guns, which is far higher than comparable jurisdictions.
So why isn’t the region getting extra help from higher governments to deal with a flood of weapons that contributed to the growing violence in Brampton over the past couple of years?
A little creative accounting brings the proposed 0.8 percent tax hike down to zero, fulfilling a campaign pledge but deferring some employee raises and projects to next year.
Brown believes what’s good news for property taxpayers will also help the city catch up to its neighbors in becoming an attractive place to set up new business, boosting the city’s economy.
But as council votes to approve this year’s budget on Wednesday, danger looms, with reserves drained and deferred and major projects on the horizon and no money to pay for them.
Population growth and expanding routes have fuelled a huge increase in transit ridership in recent years.
But every dollar earned at the farebox puts the city a little deeper in the hole for covering the remaining cost of extending and improving service — including the $125 million it will need to come up with to unlock Brampton’s fair share of federal and provincial transit money.
Which is where the 1 percent transit levy in this year’s proposed budget comes in.
A scathing equity/diversity audit of Peel police was released on Friday, painting a brutal picture of a dysfunctional force that needs new leadership.
The evidence in the report that now paves the way for real change, following years of lip service, wouldn’t have come to light without former Brampton mayor Linda Jeffrey and Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie.
Brampton wants to be a ‘Smart City,’ a technology hub that can show it supplies the best online streaming services to the public. It has taken great strides over the past few years to do just that, led by a talented team of staffers, and a man who has used his outside position to play an inside role in helping the city in the past, present and into the future. Meet Brampton’s invisible man, who takes great care in projecting everyone else’s images to the outside world.
A program to incentivize millennials to opt into the housing market might be good in some markets, but one veteran Brampton realtor says it won’t have the same impact here. With a different demographic, Brampton homeowners are driven by an urge to pay off mortgage debt as quickly as possible – no matter what their age. That means they are looking for contributions from more and more people, even renters and family members.
Two of Canada’s largest and most diverse cities are served by a police force that does not reflect the community and whose leaders have swept under the carpet serious concerns about internal discrimination and harassment on the basis of race, gender and sexual orientation.
A diversity audit was initiated by the police board two years ago after racially charged incidents pitted community advocates against a force perceived to be homogenous and unresponsive to changing demographics.
An alarming 90 percent of police employees who participated in focus groups for the audit reported either experiencing or witnessing harassment or discrimination.
Tuesday’s federal budget announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government promises about $2 billion more for cities this year to help pay for desperately needed infrastructure in municipalities across the country. But in places like Brampton, where the infrastructure gap is rapidly increasing because of major spending areas that were downloaded onto cities by higher levels of government, municipal leaders are still wondering where the promised $188 billion for infrastructure, pledged in the 2016 budget over a decade, has gone.
Ottawa blames Queen’s Park for stalling some of the funding. The PCs tell The Pointer that Ottawa’s claim is incorrect.
Councillors have voted to put into writing what they’ve been saying for years: Mississauga is a mature city that should be allowed to stand on its own two feet.
After a public meeting to gather input, the city plans to ask the Doug Ford government, which is currently reviewing the regional system, to allow a formal separation from Peel Region rather than pursue the idea of a “super-city” of Peel.
What that means for Brampton and Caledon is the big thorny question.
Toronto police conduct the vast majority of strip searches in Ontario, but Peel police come in second when it comes to improper searches, and might perform the most unlawful strip-searches per capita.
That’s according to Ontario’s police watchdog, which found a disturbing ignorance among police officers about the guidelines set in a landmark Supreme Court ruling 20 years ago.
The OIPRD found Peel police conducted at least 14 illegal strip searches of people arrested since 2002, but because of incomplete data it's unclear if the force has performed even more unlawful searches.
As if transit riders don’t have enough headaches already. A report before council is proposing a hike on adult Presto fares: 10 cents per ride (to $3.10), $1 on a weekly pass or $4 on a monthly one. (The cash fare stays at $4.)
Ironically, Brampton Transit is a victim of its own success, with ridership increases soaring well into double digits each year.
The price change is expected to generate $1.7 million in additional revenue to fund service improvements to meet increasing demand.
When Brampton’s 2040 Vision was released last year, it garnered national attention, but was notably lacking in details about the net cost of making it come to life.
As part of the 2019 budget, city staff are set to review the approved Vision, which will look to affirming and realigning the priorities to get the best value for dollar.
While city staff assure the aim of the review is not to rewrite the Vision, it may see timelines and priorities change.
With an unknown cost and a tightening of city coffers under a new council, could Brampton’s 2040 Vision be more of a reality for 2060?
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.
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.
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?