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.
A $2.25-billion project to build a bypass that would take freight trains off the rail route used by Brampton GO train commuters has been ditched by the province.
The Doug Ford government announced a couple of new weekday trips along the Kitchener GO line with the promise that it will achieve all-day, two-way service eventually under new agreements with CN, which owns the congested track.
Commuters impatient for more frequent, less-crowded and electrified service on the line have reasons to be skeptical about the wisdom of ending a project that had already gone through planning and technical analysis.
After almost a decade of stiff tax increases on the city’s share of the property bill, council, led by Mayor Patrick Brown, is trying to give residents some relief next year. An audit has been requested so staff can find efficiencies that will prevent any increase for the 2019 budget.
A 2015 analysis of the city’s finances found that excessive labour costs inside City Hall are not sustainable.
Bill 66, Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, was trotted out a week ago by the ruling PC party just as the legislature disbanded for the year. It could be the death knell for the Greenbelt in Ontario, or kick-up a furious reaction from both the public and municipalities in Southern Ontario that want no part of Doug Ford’s land gobbling plan.
Toronto opted to allow retail cannabis stores and Mississauga opted out, meanwhile Brampton remains in a holding pattern on the issue.
Peel Region, after a motion from a Mississauga councillor, could implement rules banning consumption of cannabis in public spaces when the issue comes back to regional council next month.
While Brampton does some soul-searching to determine the best course, it’s unclear if council will decide to follow Mississauga’s anti-cannabis stance or Toronto’s pro-cannabis position. Either way, what happens next door will have a direct impact here.
Brampton residents voiced strong support for the Main Street LRT route this week, as council moved forward with a unified plan to finally bring higher order transit to the city. Despite some lingering concerns about the Main Street alignment running through the heritage district and other potential barriers along the corridor, the only thing that appears to be an issue is the funding.
The approximate cost of $300 million has not yet been committed by the province.
Studies will also have to be done to ensure an LRT can be built along Main Street.
Few records exist about old water channels built long ago beneath downtown.
Failure to figure out where they are and what needs to be done about them has thrown a monkey wrench into the Downtown Reimagined project.
Wednesday, faced with still unknown costs related to the tunnels and new questions about the LRT and university campus, councillors voted to put the whole thing on hold.
A motion going before Peel Region Council on Thursday could result in a ban on smoking pot in all public areas.
The City of Mississauga voted to opt out of allowing retail cannabis shops in the city on Wednesday.
All of this is putting pressure on Brampton councillors to figure out where they stand on the issue before they need to decide officially on allowing stores in Brampton in January.
No reasons were given for the abrupt split with the man Linda Jeffrey brought in as a “change agent” in 2016.
Schlange, who fired 25 top bureaucrats in a major shakeup soon after his arrival, may be due for a hefty severance.
While the city looks for a new CAO, Joe Pittari, commissioner of corporate services and the city’s leader on the cannabis file, will be filling in.
Gurpreet Dhillon’s motion to move forward with a Main Street LRT, with a tunnelling option to be considered, is on the agenda for Wednesday’s council meeting. The possibility of going underground, suggested by Mayor Patrick Brown, was a way to get every member on board with the plan at last week’s committee meeting.
If passed today, the city will finally move forward with an agreed upon route for a future light rail system. Here are some of the details you should know.
With the city’s debate on whether to allow cannabis retail stores deferred to the new year, two true believers in the potential of the plant are making themselves heard.
One a cancer survivor, the other a recovering alcoholic, they’re going up against Councillor Charmaine Williams, who has signalled staunch opposition to retail shops in Brampton.
If the city wants to opt out, it will need to make that decision by Jan. 22.
Peel Region is ready to move ahead with fixing aging water and sewer lines downtown, but there’s a hitch.
The city is still facing unknown costs on its part of the project, which is to develop a more pedestrian-friendly streetscape.
Between unknowns beneath the streets and big question marks around the LRT and Ryerson campus, staff are recommending pressing the pause button on Downtown Reimagined.
Few issues in Brampton are as polarizing as secondary suites. Many in the city, including thousands of newcomers, rely on these affordable housing alternatives, until they can enter the property market as buyers.
But other residents feel the proliferation of secondary suites, also known as basement apartments, is taxing city services, as Brampton's residential streets become more and more crowded to accommodate dwellers of these popular units. A new council, facing a stretched budget and many frustrated constituents, will have to address this complex issue.
The story has been updated since its original publication in September.
Days after taking office, some city councillors are impatient to hire extra staff, which they claim will improve service to a growing number of constituents sending complaints and seeking help from their local representatives.
Brampton needs to start thinking more like the big city it has become, says Councillor Gurpreet Dhillon, who introduced the motion.
Others say adding 10 staff at city hall is a waste of money in an already stretched budget — and that the offices aren’t big enough to handle them. The city’s finances are already strained because of bloated labour costs. What happens next hinges on a report from the city clerk’s office.
The inaugural session of regional council might be the last in Peel if a group of political dissidents from the provincial and municipal world have their way. But will the possible dismantling of the region and council at the whim of Hazel McCallion, Bonnie Crombie and the Doug Ford government be good for Mississauga, bad for Brampton and Caledon, or will all three suffer? If Ford gets one mega-city, his PC party will feel the political fallout for years to come.
Recent statistics show that Brampton and Mississauga have a problem with increasing rates of youth crime. With money tight across the province, Peel police is looking to the federal government for funding help to curb youth violence.
Local MPs, The Pointer has learned, are now trying to help the force get the money it needs, while Peel police continues with other proactive initiatives to guide the region’s young people away from a life of crime.
Conservatives on the parliamentary ethics committee want to know when the prime minister’s office was informed about the ex-Liberal MP’s gambling problem and possible connections with an RCMP money-laundering investigation.
It’s not clear whether the Brampton East MP, who reneged on his pledge to resign last month, is being investigated in connection with a City of Brampton land deal that he’d received confidential information about, prior to a sale that cost the city an extra $1 million.
Grewal continues as an independent MP after being forced out of the Liberal caucus.
For the second time in as many municipal elections, a longtime Mississauga councillor has been chosen to lead Peel Region as chair of its council. Nando Iannicca won the job thanks in part to some Brampton regional councillors who broke ranks with their mayor.
Martin Medeiros, in a move against Mayor Patrick Brown’s choice, seconded Iannicca’s nomination, which was put forward by Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie, who made her own split, away from the wishes of her one-time supporter, former mayor Hazel McCallion.
A Wednesday motion to reopen the possibility of a Main Street route for light rail, supported by some long-time Linda Jeffrey allies and council newcomers, raised the spectre of another acrimonious term.
Mayor Patrick Brown labelled Gurpreet Dhillon’s motion as “short-sighted” and likely to stoke division in a council that is trying to leave the past behind.
However, a compromise prevailed, raising the possibility that parts of the downtown route, if it ever gets built, might go underground through the city’s heritage district.
Councillors will hold a special meeting in January to decide whether to opt out of allowing cannabis stores in the city, with some questioning the results of a survey showing a slim majority of residents want them.
Meanwhile, the city’s controversial support for the Brampton Beast hockey club and the Riverstone Golf Club purchase were back on the table on Wednesday, behind closed doors.
The Brampton Beast hockey team bailout and the Riverstone golf club purchase are back on the agenda for the first committee of council meeting of the new term.
So are, not surprisingly, two longed-for items that the city just can’t quite seize: an LRT route into the heart of downtown and a university campus Brampton can call its own.
What happens in this meeting, with five new faces around the table — including Mayor Patrick Brown — could help set the tone for a whole new term.
An Environics survey commissioned by the city found 54 percent of Bramptonians somewhat or strongly support allowing private retail sales of cannabis within city limits.
But with the issue on Wednesday’s committee of council agenda for a possible vote (that would have to be ratified next week), some councillors would rather wait and see how the rollout of legal pot is handled in other communities before choosing to opt-in.
The province has given municipalities until Jan. 22 to opt out, for now. Those who don’t could have shops open by April 1.
Brampton’s roster of regional councillors is now set and will play a key role in choosing the new chair of Peel Regional Council this week.
But even with a complete revamp of the mayor’s office and a new-look council taking up residence at city hall, the question remains: will Brampton finally get its just rewards as one of the fastest growing communities in Canada? That would mean more services, more representation, and more respect.
A lot is at stake for each of Peel’s three municipalities, as regional councillors politic for a chair to serve their interests.
Staying true to his election campaign’s main pledge, Mayor Patrick Brown left a packed house at the Rose Theatre Monday night giddy with hope, as the hyper-energetic leader vowed to bring economic development and jobs to the city.
Brown laid out an ambitious agenda for the next four years to lift Brampton out of a decade-long rut. His fellow colleagues on the new council pledged to work as a team to help the mayor fulfill his lofty goals.
Meeting for the first time on Tuesday, Brampton councillors unanimously rejected the city clerk’s recommendation to disband committees focused on transportation options, community safety, and diversity and equity issues.
The move signals a desire by the new council to give special attention to concerns that were top of mind for citizens at the doorstep during the fall election campaign—and to avoid embarrassing missteps in a city that is more diverse than ever.
The actions of Brampton MP Raj Grewal and MP Tony Clement, a former MPP for the city, are jarring.
But the inaction of rookie Brampton PC MPP Amarjot Sandhu is even more troubling in a city whose voters are alarmed by the harm an elected official is doing to the place where they live.
Of 11 members, the mayor and four councillors are new, creating a more diverse governing body and possibly a new dynamic on a council that had been widely considered dysfunctional.
The last government left several major issues unfinished and the incoming members will have to pick up where they left off. Some hot topics: opting-out of cannabis stores in the city, funding the Ryerson University campus and restarting the sputtering LRT debate.
Social services issues at the region and for Mayor Patrick Brown, who will sit on the police board, mounting public safety concerns will all be part of a busy agenda for the city's leaders.
MP Navdeep Bains was asked about a photo showing him with a director of a Brampton company that sold a 20-acre property to the city early this year for about $1 million more than the municipality was originally going to pay.
The Pointer reported last week that former mayor Linda Jeffrey’s chief of staff gave confidential details of the city’s deal with the province to buy the land to Bains and MP Raj Grewal. The deal fell through and the land was sold to a company that flipped it back to the city at a large profit.
In question period Monday, Bains denied any connection to the company. The company released a statement saying it did not receive any confidential information about the deal.
The company that bought a parcel of land from the province then sold it to the City of Brampton for the Goreway Bridge project has released a statement aggressively denying it used any information from politicians or political parties to help it acquire and sell the property.
The statement comes days after Brampton East MP Raj Grewal and Mississauga MP Navdeep Bains, who received confidential information about the city’s negotiation with the province from Linda Jeffrey’s chief of staff, denied sharing the information with anyone.
Brampton East MP Raj Grewal released a video to The Globe and Mail published late Friday, in which he details his gambling debts and declares he will quit the Liberal caucus, but leaves open the possibility of holding onto his riding seat.
Grewal also says he did not disclose confidential details about a proposed Brampton land transaction that he received, unsolicited, from Linda Jeffrey’s chief of staff.
The MP says he gambled recreationally since university, but the habit developed into a mental health issue when he started to play high stakes blackjack at an Ottawa-area casino next to the hotel he stayed at as a parliamentarian.
He apologized for his behaviour, to his family, constituents, colleagues and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Maple Leaf Foods is moving to consolidate operations in a new state-of-the-art plant to be built in London, Ont., by 2022.
Brampton’s aging facility, which employs 324 unionized workers, will close in the process, along with two others in Toronto and Perth South.
The move means more jobs in London, but the loss of a mainstay of the local economy marks yet another blow to Brampton’s dwindling blue-collar employment base.
The results of a City of Brampton investigation into a real estate transaction that cost taxpayers $1 million extra has been sent to the RCMP, after councillors learned Brampton East MP Raj Grewal and Mississauga MP Navdeep Bains were given confidential details about the pending deal—including the agreed price—by Linda Jeffrey’s chief of staff, Hasneet Singh Punia.
The provincially owned property, needed to fix a traffic bottleneck at a railway crossing on Goreway Drive, was instead sold to private investors, who flipped it back to the city months later well above the price the city and province had agreed to.
If GM can suddenly call a halt to production in “Canada’s Automotive Capital” on the grounds that few are buying sedans anymore, can auto workers at Fiat Chrysler’s Brampton plant feel safe?
Like Oshawa, they’re building gas-guzzling sedans, a category quickly losing market share to SUVs and crossover vehicles. Meanwhile, the industry is moving toward the cars of the future: green and autonomous vehicles.
For municipal leaders, including new mayor Patrick Brown, Oshawa’s woe is a warning to make diversifying the city’s economic base a top concern.
An infusion of cash announced Wednesday will help a small Niagara hospital upgrade its aging facilities, a move trumpeted by Premier Doug Ford as part of “our plan to end hallway healthcare.”
The promised $8.5 million will go toward new infrastructure for the hospital.
Meanwhile, fast-growing Brampton’s desperately overcrowded hospital is seeing no signals of help from the province.
The federal government’s ethics commissioner was investigating Grewal over the appearance of favours given to a construction company from which he also received income, according to public disclosures.
Now, a Brampton law firm that was paying Grewal is not speaking publicly about its relationship with the former MP or what work he did for the firm while serving as an elected official.
The ethics watchdog responsible for complaints against MPs says the probe into former Brampton East MP Raj Grewal over his relationship with a local builder invited on a trip to India in January will continue, despite his recent resignation due to gambling problems.
Meanwhile, The Globe and Mail has reported details of an RCMP investigation into Grewal’s gambling and some of his recent spending that led to significant debt, including millions spent at an Ottawa-area casino.
Peel police wants to increase its budget next year by almost three times the current rate of inflation in Ontario.
Citing her concerns over increased violent crime, the lame-duck head of the force, departing Chief Jennifer Evans, has presented the police board with a proposed $423-million budget for 2019.
That represents a 5.4 percent increase over last year, money that will help in hiring 55 additional officers to deal with rising crime and the fallout from pot legalization.
But there are questions: With an expensive new contract kicking in next year, putting every single first-class constable on the Sunshine List, will Peel Region buy it? And will the Doug Ford government cheapskate Brampton again, by withholding its policing grant?
Departing Brampton mayor Linda Jeffrey still hasn’t thrown her hat in the ring but acknowledges that she’s been “approached” about her interest in a job that, while out of the public spotlight, demands the sort of deep knowledge and experience a former mayor possesses.
Picking a new chair will be one of the first orders of business on Dec. 6, when a reconstituted Peel Region Council gathers for the first time since the municipal election.
Also waiting in the wings are several former Brampton and Mississauga councillors, and former Liberal MPPs who lost their seats in last June’s provincial election.