Patrick Brown’s proposed 2024 budget neglects what Brampton needs most
(Alexis Wright/The Pointer)

Patrick Brown’s proposed 2024 budget neglects what Brampton needs most

Brampton’s aging infrastructure was once seen as an opportunity to use taxpayer money for the modernization of the city. But since Patrick Brown’s arrival as mayor in 2018 successive budgets were frozen and now his proposal for the city’s 2024 financial blueprint once again  avoids projects he promised, to move the municipality into the future.

A critical piece of financial planning—a ten-year capital plan—is missing from the document. Brown eliminated this prudent financial practice when he was first elected. With key pieces of City-owned infrastructure expected to near the end of their useful life within two decades, the need to plan for long-term financial stability in Brampton is critical. However, Brown has drafted a budget that cuts critical spending and ignores the promises he has made to residents—to deliver the features they expect in one of Canada’s largest cities—over much of the last five years.

Spending cuts are proposed in bridge repairs, parks maintenance and forestry, recreation and more, despite City documents highlighting how these areas are in desperate need of significant funding. Some projects the mayor has been rallying behind for years, like a new cricket stadium, or Brampton’s first standalone university (it is the biggest city in the country without one) and the tunnelled Hurontario LRT extension into downtown, are left with no funding commitment or have been pushed to later years, a result of consecutive budget freezes forced by Brown which have left the City with few options to pay for all its needs.  

According to the City of Brampton’s 2022 State of Local Infrastructure report, in ten years the City's bus fleet, transit support fleet, traffic signals and fencing will reach the end of their useful life. Meanwhile, in 20 years, many of Brampton’s arterial and collector roads will need to be redone, along with noise walls and sidewalks, which will collectively require tens of millions of dollars to upgrade or replace. The replacement value of Brampton’s 475 Heavy Duty buses will total $495.3 million, but only $22 million is slated to come out of the 2024 property tax base for bus purchases, while the majority of what’s needed to cover next year’s proposed $66 million for new buses will have to come from Ottawa and Queen’s Park. Mississauga, by comparison, allocated more than $70 million from its tax-base revenue primarily toward the purchase of new buses and is planning to use almost $50 million from the tax base in 2024 for transit capital expenses, as the city far outpaces Brampton in its efforts to green the Mississauga transit fleet (by the end of this year it will have 206 hybrid-electric buses, helping it reach its ambitious emissions reduction target, unlike Brampton which is not making the required investments to reach its weaker targets). Brampton has no electric buses of its own (8 were provided as part of a federal pilot program) and there are 133 hybrid buses, along with 334 dirty diesel buses, a hundred more than Mississauga. Brown, meanwhile, has publicly claimed he will make Brampton the first city in Canada with a fully electric bus fleet.

In the City’s approved 2023 budget, capital spending toward transit was forecasted to be $135.9 million in 2024, but Brown’s proposed 2024 budget cuts that number by $44.0 million, leaving $91.9 million for the department’s capital needs next year. The 2024 budget highlights plans to invest in 136 new transit operators, purchase and refurbish $78.4 million in buses and expand Züm service on Bramalea Road for $3.8 million. While additional transit operators will help provide additional service hours to meet rising demand are included, it is unclear how transit operations will be properly supported without a commitment to a third new transit facility, which is a necessity for increasing transit service and bus capacity in the city and has been delayed for years under Brown’s leadership. 

According to the City’s 2022 State of the Local Infrastructure (SOLI) Report, Brampton’s Libraries, Recreation facilities and Vehicle fleet have the highest number of assets listed in poor to very poor condition. Yet these are the departments Brown has sliced capital funding from. 


Brampton Transit has shown healthy potential demand for ridership expansion, but investments are not keeping up with growth pressures.

(The Pointer Files)


After first identifying the need for two additional bus storage and maintenance facilities in the City’s master plan in 2015, a critical investment necessary to prevent the existing two garages in Brampton from reaching “crush capacity,” council in 2019, under Brown, scrapped the original blueprint and decided instead to plan for a single, larger facility for 2024. That facility has yet to materialize, and a recent staff report highlights how the plan is now over-budget. 

The 2022 SOLI report shows Brampton’s bus and transit support fleet will reach the end of their lifespan within the next decade. Its buses are averaging 8 years of age out of an expected life span of 18 years, meaning many will need replacing. At a budget meeting on December 7, Brampton Councillor Dennis Keenan inquired about the types of buses the City is planning to buy, citing that the purchase of diesel powered buses may compromise the City’s plans to move its bus fleet toward electrification in line with its environmental initiatives. Transit staff told Keenan 23 new Diesel buses were set for purchase in the new budget, citing difficulty in finding 60-feet hybrid vehicles as an alternative (compared to 40-foot buses that are better available to the City in hybrid form, according to staff). 


Departments where assets have the highest “Very Poor”condition designations are seeing capital spending cuts in Brown’s 2024 proposed budget.

(City of Brampton) 


Brampton Public Library is seeing $993,000 in capital spending for 2024, which is a $1.7 million cut from the $2.7 million forecasted last year. As per the 2022 SOLI Report, 38 percent of Brampton Library’s furniture and equipment is listed as in “very poor” condition, with a further 46 percent rated as “poor” to “fair” condition. Much of the very poor value is attributed to computer equipment. Over half of the furniture in the City’s Recreation department is classified as in “very poor” condition along with nearly a quarter of the department’s equipment. Meanwhile capital funding for the department has been cut by $42,000, leaving a total of $4.2 million proposed for 2024. While funding cuts to crucial areas of the City’s assets are one thing compromising the future state of infrastructure residents and taxpayers need, other key projects that have been promised for years in Brampton are missing a meaningful funding commitment altogether in the proposed 2024 budget.

In May of this year, after years of debate and controversy. Brampton council finally decided on a route for the extension of the Hurontario LRT line into downtown, unanimously voting to go with the priciest option, a partly-underground tunnel running along the Main Street corridor. The cost for the subsurface alignment stretching less than four kilometres was updated from the estimated $1-$1.7 billion in 2019, to $2.8 billion. The tunnel option was first introduced by Brown, who claimed in 2019 there was funding available from higher levels of government. Since that statement four years ago, no funding from upper levels of government has materialized. The 2024 budget only includes about $1.2 million dedicated to the LRT line. The amount is a far cry from the $2.8 billion that staff identified will be needed. The move by council to collectively support the tunnel option was done in order to advance funding advocacy and initiate the Transit Project Assessment Process (TPAP). Staff were supposed to report back to council in November, with an update on the “Outcome of discussions with Metrolinx and Provincial officials to help inform the tunnel option for the LRT” but as per the latest version of the Referred Matters list, the outcome of those discussions has been postponed into the new year and is now scheduled for January 24. 


$2.8 billion in funding for Brampton’s Hurontario LRT extension has yet to be secured.

(Alexis Wright/The Pointer)


Brown’s lack of investment into the LRT further delays a critical infrastructure project that has been a nightmare for Brampton. 

Constructing an efficient transportation system along the Hurontario-Main corridor from downtown Brampton to Port Credit, Mississauga, was first established by Metrolinx’s all the way back in the early 2000s, via the agency’s 2008 Big Move Regional Transportation Plan, the first ever regional transportation plan for the GTHA. The two cities completed the Hurontario/Main Street Master Plan Study in 2010, going with that LRT route as the preferred mode of public transportation.

In September 2014, the TPAP approved the LRT and the Province committed $1.6 billion for its entire capital cost in April of 2015, but the Province pulled funding for the Brampton portion after former council members voted down the Main Street option because of concerns over the impacts to the heritage downtown road, low ridership and a lack of development opportunity along Etobicoke Creek, with staff eventually being directed to find alternatives for the LRT into the downtown area by running it either east or west of Main. Then when Patrick Brown became mayor, new councillors wanted the LRT running along Main Street, and the tunnel option under Brown was endorsed. Now, the meager $1.2 million identified in the 2024 proposed budget ($1 million for “Hurontario Light Rail Transit” and $200,000 for “Hurontario LRT-Infrastructure”) does not even begin to cover the costs of that tunnel option, and investment from upper-government is yet to be obtained. 


Rendering of the City Lands Project, including a new Cricket Stadium.

(City of Brampton/Gensler)


Another major project missing from Brown’s budget is any sign of the cricket stadium he promised would turn Brampton into the “cricket capital of Canada”. Two years ago, staff told the previous council under Brown that his long-promised “world-class cricket stadium” to host international events in a city where the sport’s popularity is booming, would cost $35 million (about ten percent of the cost of similar stadiums built elsewhere within the previous decade, for example, Winnipeg’s 33,000-seat football stadium cost about $384 million as of 2016 with $235 million for the construction itself). A year later, staff bumped that number up to $49 million. Like many of the commitments made by Brown, the cricket stadium lacks proper planning, has not had funding and now appears to be completely missing from his proposed 2024 budget (although the mayor has dedicated a small amount for cricket-related activities—$3 million for “Youth Cricket,” $1 million for “Cricket Interim Site Development” and $350,000 for “Joint Use Cricket Pitch”—in his budget proposal). Eager residents have been waiting to see progress on his cricket stadium promise, all while Brown has refused to expand the City budget to accommodate a $49 million price tag (which critics have said cannot get a world class stadium build, and removed funding from the previous budget

After the city hosted the Global T20 Canada cricket tournament this summer and the skyrocketing popularity among its residents was brought to the surface, it is unclear why talks around a new world-class stadium have remained just that, talks, rather than appeared in the mayor’s proposed 2024 budget to put those words into action. 


Renderings of the City of Brampton's Riverwalk project.

(City of Brampton)


David Laing, President of Brampton Environmental Alliance (BEA), told The Pointer that while the BEA has not taken an official position on the 2024 budget and is uncertain about actual investments being made to reach environmental goals, the organization is encouraged by the “continued commitment from the Planning, Building and Growth Management Department’s desire to fulfill the 2040 vision through several strategic initiatives including: the development of complete communities, the continued investment in the Streets for People initiative, one million trees program, and flood protection initiatives such as Riverwalk.” Laing shared that BEA is also pleased to see that the City “appears to be on track to achieve a 50% reduction in carbon emissions by 2040 and has launched a 5-year Climate Change Adaptation Plan to help increase City resiliency to extreme weather-related events,” as well as the “Fostering Community Environmental Stewardship as a strategic priority for 2024.” But he said the organization is not “sure if the City has budgeted sufficient resources to make this a reality.”

He also said that while the City’s 2023 investment in a micro-mobility pilot “appeared to achieve its intended objectives, we would have [liked] to have seen more emphasis placed on encouraging sustainable transportation mode share growth and setting 2024 targets for mode share.”

While the Riverwalk continues to be promoted in the proposed 2024 budget, plans for it to fully transform Brampton’s downtown in the Etobicoke Creek floodplain to fortify a nature-based, community-centred core area that also provides flood protection in the vulnerable downtown district are still lacking. While $87.3 million ($28.5 million of that sourced from the federal government) has been dedicated to the Riverwalk, funding to facilitate the entirety of the project, which goes far beyond standard flood mitigation, has yet to be realized. 

The Riverwalk is a three-phase project, the first of which mainly pertains to that flood protection element, but also speaks to the creation of new parks, bridges, pathways and pedestrian crossings, street trees and stormwater systems, among other elements, that are supposed to get the Riverwalk going in the direction it is ultimately planned to reach. Phase 2 gets further into the beautification and revitalization parts of the project, such as the Rosalea Park Revitalization, planned to be the heart of the Riverwalk, the Ken Whillans Drive extension, the Riverwalk’s anticipated signature street, and more active transportation enhancements, including the portion of the Etobicoke Creek Recreational Trail proposed to bring it closer to the natural beauty of the valley and provide better connection to the creek. The third phase is supposed to focus on elevating the Riverwalk even more so that it becomes a showpiece within the city and promotes engagement with residents and visitors. Without funding for even the early stages like flood mitigation fully secured, it is unclear when a project of this scale will actually be achieved for Brampton residents. 

Brown's lack of commitment to critical projects is also reflected through the lack of funding for a stand-alone university, a project he championed back in his previous term, since riddled with scandal, and is now nowhere in the proposed 2024 budget aside from $28,000 left idle in a reserve fund. 

Despite the influx of international students who could benefit from a stand-alone university in one of the fastest-growing major cities in Canada, let alone the domestic students who have to live in different cities during their studies or take long commutes to universities outside of Brampton, the failed project cost taxpayers over $630,000 in contracts given to friends of Brown and Councillor Rowena Santos for work that was never done and a project that never materialized. 



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