Consultations announced by Education Minister Lisa Thompson this week are expected to look at, among other things, removing caps on class sizes in the early years.
That could have particular impact in Brampton, where schools are often more than full thanks to a population boom and children being raised in secondary suites that don’t get counted in school demand projections. Current caps limit the number of students inside the classroom, but those controls could be lifted.
Peel Regional Councillor Carolyn Parrish, a former teacher and trustee, is among those skeptical of the PC government’s motivations, saying the goal is to cut costs rather than improve education.
After much fanfare, there will be no Ryerson University satellite campus in downtown Brampton. Following the shocking announcement by the Doug Ford PC government in October, that it was pulling the province’s $90 million commitment for the campus, Ryerson has confirmed with The Pointer that it is walking away from the partnership. When asked about the news Wednesday, Mayor Patrick Brown, councillors and staff were caught off guard and later said that Ryerson will still have some type of presence in the city, a position shared by the university, which has just opened a small continuing education program here and might be involved with a planned innovation centre in the downtown core.
Premier Doug Ford’s government has announced it will pull a controversial section of a proposed new bill that would have allowed municipalities to override existing laws that protect the province’s expansive Greenbelt in Southern Ontario. Municipal Affairs Minister Steve Clark tweeted out the reversal Wednesday.
The move marks the second time Ford has flip-flopped on his pledge to developers, after he told them during the spring election campaign that he would open up Greenbelt lands, then recanted ahead of the election, before introducing the legislation in December that would have allowed the move. Facing a huge backlash across the region, his government is now removing the provision from the proposed bill.
Provincial Transportation Minister Jeff Yurek is criticising his government’s own regional transit agency, after ill-advised changes to GO train service in and out of Brampton left thousands of commuters in the city furious, as platforms and passenger cars became dangerously overcrowded.
He is pledging to address problems created by Metrolinx and his government after it scrapped the previous Liberal plan to bring all-day, two-way GO service to Brampton.
The rapidly growing homeless population in Brampton is in a life or death predicament, with an alarming lack of shelter space to provide emergency rooming in extreme weather events such as the one just experienced.
Homeless people bore the brunt of Southern Ontario’s recent cold snap, but compared to other cities, Brampton is dangerously ill-prepared for the kind of frigid temperatures that put the city’s vulnerable population in severe risk. With temperatures dropping as low as -30 C overnight, many sleeping on the streets probably wondered if they would see another sunrise. The region’s few shelters are full despite being hard to access. And not nearly enough is being done to create affordable housing.
Mayor Patrick Brown sent a frank letter to Brampton’s MPs Friday, asking for their position on whether or not to allow legal cannabis stores in the city, since it was their government’s decision to legalize marijuana across the country. Brown also invited them to attend Monday evening’s council vote and weigh in on the debate. Responses from two of them and the city’s five MPPs are endorsements to opt-in, Brown says.
Meanwhile, Councillor Rowena Santos took a stance against anti-cannabis councillor Charmaine Williams. Santos questioned the anti-cannabis lawn signs Williams has been handing out, and city staff said they are a violation of bylaws and are being removed.
All of it sets up what’s sure to be a lively debate ahead of Monday evening’s vote to either opt in or out of legal cannabis shops in Brampton, one day before the province’s deadline to decide on Tuesday.
Led by Mayor Patrick Brown, Brampton Council has voted to allow cannabis retail stores within its borders. The temporary council chambers were packed Monday night with media and members of the public who wanted to register their opinion on a contentious issue. Ultimately, the efforts of three councillors to convince their colleagues to opt-out went up in smoke in an 8-3 vote.
Calgary, Brampton and Niagara Region have all been in the news over the conduct of municipal staff. In Brampton, the recent Inzola lawsuit, which the city successfully defended, revealed troubling behaviour inside City Hall. In Niagara just over a year ago a reporter’s notes were confiscated by regional staff and last year employees with the City of Calgary viewed a leaked newspaper column, prior to its publication, that dealt with the sudden and mysterious departure of a senior staffer.
While layers of oversight exist at the federal and provincial levels, for Brampton taxpayers, and those homeowners across the country whose tax dollars pay to keep huge municipal bureaucracies running, the question of accountability is a growing concern.
Premier Doug Ford’s hiring of Hazel McCallion as a special advisor, a role she also performed for Kathleen Wynne, was no surprise. Neither are the plans they will set in motion to dismantle Peel Region and allow developers to build in the Greenbelt.
With the bones of the city in desperate need of repair, council is grappling with how to shrink a potential $743 million infrastructure deficit by seizing the attention of senior governments.
One idea: “bundle” the current deficit with future capital needs into one big package to present to the province and Ottawa for help.
Another idea: with the upcoming federal election, have some smaller projects, from a growing list of work that needs attention, shovel-ready the next time a funding opportunity arises.
Staring at a proposed 3.3 percent increase on the Region of Peel’s share of the property tax bill for 2019 and a proposed 6.5 percent increase on the utility rate is enough to make homeowners cry. But those stomach-churning numbers are nothing compared to this one: 73 percent.
That’s how much the utility rate hike for Brampton homeowners could soar if Premier Doug Ford gets his way.
At Regional Council on Thursday, elected officials were told that if Ford’s government gets what it wants — elimination of the region’s ability to levy development charges on builders — it will throw the regional budget into chaos.
Brampton’s mayor has sent a letter to the federal politicians who helped legalize recreational pot, asking them to weigh in on whether the city should opt-in to the provincial plan and allow stores within its borders.
City council has been gathering information from the public ahead of a Jan. 21 vote.
If the city wants to opt-out, it has to register that choice with the province by Jan. 22, but most local politicians have yet to publicly declare their position on the highly contentious issue.
Getting away from retail politics, the time-consuming daily demands from constituents who need help with issues like snow clearing and fixing pot-holes, is something many Brampton councillors say they need to do.
On Wednesday, following the lead of Councillor Gurpreet Dhillon, they took the first step to move away from an administrative service role, by tentatively approving a new staffing model that will allow for extra hires to help them with big-city issues facing Brampton, like crime, transit, a new university and funding for proper healthcare.
Long after a hastily announced resignation on Facebook, Raj Grewal has yet to make it official.
Constituents don’t know if Grewal, who was kicked out of the Liberal caucus in a scandal involving gambling and huge debts, will continue to represent them in Ottawa.
Grewal had promised to make a final decision in the new year, but the next session of Parliament is fast approaching without a word on his political future.
The Pointer takes a look at the business left over from 2018 that will preoccupy council at today’s key committee meeting.
Issues that will dominate council debate include what happens to a campus planned for downtown, the state of city infrastructure, and a controversial move by some on council that could see members vote to boost their own staffing level to meet growing demands. If passed, the decision would fly in the face of Mayor Patrick Brown’s call for fiscal belt-tightening across the rest of city hall.
The possible dismantling or restructuring of Peel Region has been in the air for years and on Tuesday the Doug Ford government announced a review of regional governments across the province.
The move is hardly surprising — Ford, Hazel McCallion and Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie have been signalling that change is needed. For Brampton taxpayers hoping the Ontario leader has the city’s best interests at heart, don’t kid yourself. Giving Mississauga what it has wanted for a long time could deeply hurt its neighbour to the north, not that those currently holding all the power care.
Friday’s Ontario-wide lottery to select 25 licence holders who will be allowed to open a legal retail cannabis outlet in the province drew almost 17,000 applicants. One of the winners is Brampton resident Clint Seukeran, who can now pick from the municipalities that allow cannabis sales to decide where he will open his store.
That puts even more pressure on Brampton council’s decision at a special meeting Jan. 21, one day ahead of the deadline for cities to either opt in or out of legal cannabis shops.
Michael Palleschi will represent Brampton as Peel Region forms an overall safety and well-being plan, mandated by the previous provincial government. The aim is to get local leaders more involved with problems at their doorstep.
Palleschi will be part of a panel that also includes councillors from Mississauga and Caledon, experts and residents, all focused on building a safer, healthier community. Over the next two years, they will be tasked with bringing together ideas and solutions to coordinate a new regional effort to prevent the root causes of crime and social decay.
Justice Michael Quigley admits to insensitive language in his ruling against Darren John’s application for legal assistance, but says he “did not intend to make any comment that could be perceived as racist.”
That’s according to a letter from the Canadian Judicial Council after John filed a complaint about the words Quigley used in turning down his request for monetary help in appealing a conviction of uttering threats. The chief justice, the letter says, “is satisfied that Justice Quigley does regret the unintended interpretation of his words.”
A special cannabis forum was held at the City Hall Conservatory Thursday night, and a crowd of 150 showed up, with another 200 watching online. Emotions ran high, and the question of whether recreational cannabis use is good, or very bad, was articulated in emotional outbursts. The town hall gathering sets up a dramatic January 21st council vote about the sale of a legal intoxicant in the city, but unanswered questions about cannabis use, and how it impacts society, are being argued right across North America.
Longtime Brampton-based filmmaker Chuck Scott has for years championed the city as a future arts-hub.
Now, despite recent moves that have hurt the cultural scene in the city, he says it’s time to change the conversation. The arts, which create thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in revenues, could be just the economic driver Brampton is looking for.
A firestorm has spread across Brampton as new changes to GO train service have made an already overcrowded system even worse for thousands of commuters. The changes to routes servicing the city have created onboarding problems and lengthy delays, while cars and platforms have been dangerously overcrowded, according to many riders.
Thursday morning Mayor Patrick Brown went to see how bad things were and he also penned a terse letter to the provincial government. By the afternoon a band-aid solution of two extra passenger cars was announced by the PC government.
Thursday’s town hall meeting drew both passionate support and opposition to retail cannabis stores in the city.
Among the issues: Will legal marijuana reduce or boost crime? Will it keep cannabis out of the hands of kids or make it easier to get? And will having stores in the city (or not) actually make any difference?
Councillors were present to take it all in as they prepare to vote on the issue Jan. 21.
The decision by Justice John Sproat comes as a relief for the City of Brampton as it faces financial struggles that have stalled major projects.
Sproat’s ruling, the conclusion of a legal battle that began almost eight years ago, dismissed allegations that former senior staff were biased against builder John Cutruzzola and unfairly disqualified his company, Inzola, from bidding on a lucrative redevelopment deal.
It’s not clear who will pay the city’s legal costs in fighting the lawsuit.
A provincial online survey to collect ideas for making insurance more affordable is just wasting time, says MPP Gurratan Singh, who has pledged to change rules that he says allow insurance companies to discriminate against Brampton drivers based on their postal code.
The Brampton East MPP says the government should be putting up a bill now to give real relief to Ontario motorists — particularly those in the city, who can pay as much as $1000 more than drivers in Toronto with similar driving records.
Shortage? what shortage? says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government, refuting widespread reports of a cannabis supply boondoggle, while blaming Ontario’s ‘rocky rollout’ of legalized pot on the Doug Ford government’s obsession with undoing the Liberal plan for cannabis under Kathleen Wynne.
Border Security Minister Bill Blair's spokesperson says that, contrary to Ontario’s “excuses,” there is plenty of product available, with 140 licensed producers and a large stockpile.
The province’s insistence that a shortage led to reducing retail licences to just 25 is complicating the issue for Brampton, which must make a decision on opting in or out of retail sales by Jan. 22.
A letter of intent claims the Ontario finance minister was libelled in an anecdote in Brown’s book about a former staff member’s misconduct complaint against Fedeli.
The incident was known to PC leadership before publication of the book, according to Premier Doug Ford, who said in the Legislature that it had already been investigated without a “shred of evidence” being found.
The matter has never been tested in court.
Community concern over a wave of violent crime spread across Brampton in 2018, as the issue remains the number one problem for the city’s residents. While crime needs to be confronted head on by Peel police, local leaders, other levels of government and the public, a look at the statistics over a longer period suggests 2018 might have been an anomaly, not part of a pattern of rising violent crime.
Population growth and other more random factors can sometimes explain increases in crime year over year. Overall, when looking at national and provincial crime statistics and numbers in Peel over the years to understand crime in Brampton and Mississauga, last year has to be compared with broader data.
The decision not to award a contract for replacement of aging water and sewer pipes follows Brampton’s decision to pump the brakes on its revamped streetscape plans.
Waiting will give the city a chance to deal with unknown costs and changes to the transit plan, but it could put downtown in additional peril because of aging infrastructure.
Consultants warned a decade ago that the utilities would be at a breaking point by 2019.
Allegations of misconduct against former senior staff with the City of Brampton and former mayor Susan Fennell have hung like a dark cloud for almost eight years since a $28.5 million lawsuit was filed in 2011.
The city has been admonished for dragging the lawsuit out, forcing motions to be filed so the plaintiff could get documents to help its case and cancelling its own attempt to end the suit before a trial when it withdrew its own motion for a summary judgment. Now, finally, after the nine-week trial wrapped up in September, a decision by the judge is expected soon.
The Pointer provides an account of the key points in the case and the main evidence presented at trial.
Brampton’s new council has been lauded by many as more representative of its people. But is it really? Does the new crew at city hall match up with the city’s demographics? And how does it compare to surrounding municipalities?
With the Downtown Reimagined plan now shelved because of unknown costs and unknown problems beneath the surface of the city-centre, retailers are anxious as the area continues to show its age.
They say two decades of neglect have done damage to business. But now, with a new council and a new, dynamic plan for the city’s future it's time to begin the transformation right in the heart of Brampton.
With budget season coming over the horizon, it’s time for council members to shake off the holidays and focus on getting the city’s finances in order.
City hall staff has provided the public with a timeline of when to expect what in the budgeting process.
One big-ticket item to be accounted for is the soon-to-arrive Ryerson University satellite campus and downtown innovation centre. Council will have to figure out how to raise the $150 million already pledged for that project — and where the money for many other needed projects will come from.
New councillor Charmaine Williams is ready to pick up the torch to ensure the committee she chairs will take Justice Michael Tulloch’s report on carding seriously and follow through on its sweeping recommendations for policing reforms, welcomed by critics of Peel’s force.
Tulloch’s review of carding across the province, released Dec. 31, concluded that random carding is ineffective, offers low-quality data, and is often practised discriminately — contradicting departing Chief Jennifer Evans’ claim that it’s an invaluable police tool.
His recommendations for a more diverse police force and a deep culture shift could set the tone for dealing with the number one concern of Brampton citizens: crime.
For residents worried about pot shops springing up all across the city, it might not matter if council opts in or out of allowing legal cannabis stores in Brampton. The province has released details of a lottery to decide where the only 25 retail cannabis licences to be issued this year in Ontario will go.
The entire GTA outside of Toronto is slated for just six stores, meaning that even if Brampton City Council decides at its Jan. 21 meeting to allow the stores within city limits, there won’t be a pot shop on every corner — or maybe any corner — in the city for the foreseeable future.
Despite the fanfare associated with pot legalization, a shortage of product means a much slower rollout than expected in cities that opt in across Ontario.
Justice Michael Tulloch’s sweeping review of what happened after “carding” was restricted in Ontario includes a call to ban random stops for gathering intelligence data, better public and police education on the limits of street checks, more diversity in forces that, like Peel’s, don’t reflect the community and a revolution in police culture. Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown and Mississauga's Bonnie Crombie say the new report lays out the way policing should be approached in the two cities.
The judge’s report refutes claims by outgoing Peel Police Chief Jennifer Evans that curtailing carding is connected to an increase in crime.
Residents can choose from several locations and dates to register their opinions with city staff on the issue of pot shops within city limits.
In addition, a town-hall gathering on Jan. 10 at city hall will include a presentation and a panel discussion; if you can’t attend, you can join the live-stream on the city’s Facebook event page.
The information gathered will help council make a decision on whether to allow the stores in the city or not, one day ahead of the Jan. 22 deadline.
Second-year Sheridan College computer science student Sylvia Roberts wants to fire up Brampton residents, to get them more involved in their city. She has been live-tweeting council meetings for a year, and says unaddressed housing issues are only going to worsen with a new university campus in the city. She also wants council to address the plight of seniors in a city with few housing options for them.
She’s raising the alarm through @BramRecorder, hoping to get council moving towards fixing these problems and many others hiding in plain view before the city's residents.
On the last day of the year, here's The Pointer's wrap on 2018. It was a rollicking year that set the tone in a city with huge potential, as residents now look to leaders who emerged over the past 12 months, hoping they will propel Brampton into a promising future. Linda Jeffrey is out as mayor and Patrick Brown is in. Raj Grewal is on the ropes and Doug Ford is looking for a fight.
The issues and people that made headlines throughout a wild 2018 in Brampton serve as reminders of things to come.
Mayor Patrick Brown wants a tax freeze for 2019, but history shows that while wildly popular, such a move can be devastating in the long run. An external audit of City Hall has been ordered and international firm KPMG will report its findings in the new year. Why not wait for a clear picture before setting the city on a course sure to be popular, and possibly fatal?
The Harrison family case, involving the deaths of three Mississauga residents, is one of many that have raised questions about Peel police's investigative practices and the competency of the force.
A newly constituted police board led by Mayor Patrick Brown and Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie will oversee a police department racked with problems over its practices and its poor relationship with visible minority communities, which make up two thirds of the population in the two cities the force patrols.
This is the second and final part of a series that was originally published by The Pointer in September.
As residents look to their newly elected officials for solutions, media reports of violence in Brampton are dominating the headlines, the city’s utilities are in dire need of upgrades, and staff are without a leader to guide them through a watershed time for the city.
Addressing a healthcare crisis and finding $90 million pulled by the province for a new university campus are just two of the many other issues on the agenda. Voters who put them into power will be looking for council members to rise to the occasion as many challenges lie ahead in the new year.
Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown and Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie will join the Peel police board in the new year. The most pressing issue facing the members that oversee the country's third largest municipal police force is the search for a new chief. Jennifer Evans will be stepping down in January and leaves a troubled force that under her leadership has been plagued by officer misconduct and a series of badly handled cases. With violent crime on the rise, many are calling for Peel police to reform itself as critics point to the growing list of problems.
The Pointer originally published this story in September and will feature part 2 of the series later this week.
Gary Collins is a long-time stalwart of the political wars and brings that kind of experience to the communications department inside the mayor's office at city hall. His trustworthiness and ability to build bridges between council and staff are most needed at a time of transition when a laundry list of challenges faces them over the next four years.
Part museum, part gallery, part archive, and part community hub, the Peel Archives Museum and Art Gallery has grown and changed over its half-century of collecting, curating and exhibiting in the fast-growing, cosmopolitan community it serves.
More than just a reflection of the past, or an entertaining spot to view our contemporary social and cultural environment, PAMA hopes to be a place that hosts thoughtful discussion and exhibitions that continue to reflect our dynamic, rapidly evolving region.
Thanks to Habitat for Humanity, seven Brampton families each moved into their new home yesterday, Saturday, just in time for the new year.
Affordable housing is an issue that comes into sharper focus around the holiday season, when thousands of families across the city struggle during a time of giving. Around the world, income inequality is becoming a significant problem as more and more people need help from food banks and housing agencies.
Anti-Muslim agitator Ron Banerjee, pictured here, publicly apologized after making discriminatory remarks about a successful Peel-based restaurateur, who is Muslim. A settlement after a lawsuit was filed compelled Banerjee to say sorry.
But in Brampton’s rapidly growing South Asian community local politicians say more needs to be done to make sure old-world divisions don’t create religious and cultural tensions here.
Peel Region will be setting up its own panel to deal with crime, but Brampton councillors say they need to tackle issues surrounding the rise in crime themselves, given the alarming increase in violence that has rattled residents this year.
Instead of scrapping the city’s committee as staff recommended, they will expand it to include more citizen involvement.
The fledgling transit committee will also be expanded to give residents a place to voice their concerns and hopes — signaling that this council, as one member said, is “paying attention to the details.”
An environmental assessment will help the city solve the downtown flooding risk while opening the way to create a signature urban destination in the heart of the city along its hidden riverwalk.
Ottawa has just committed $1.5 million for the study that promises to lift the floodplain designation hindering redevelopment of Brampton’s moribund downtown area.
The funding comes as local MPs prepare for next year’s federal election, when voters will be watching to see if Brampton’s needs are being looked after.
The City of Brampton’s former top bureaucrat testified earlier this year in the trial for a $28.5 million lawsuit against the city over a controversial $500 million downtown development deal.
On the witness stand she was shown evidence that contradicted her earlier testimony in the case. Dubenofsky told the court she had made “inaccurate” statements in her earlier sworn testimony.