After deferring the vote by a month, Mississauga City Council approved budgets for 2020, including a 4.52 percent hike in the city hall budget and a small increase to the stormwater collection fee. These increases were reluctantly agreed to by councillors, some of whom wanted to see lower cost increases for residents.
The great promise of a new-look mayor and council after the 2018 municipal election was that they would remain steadfast in their support of the 2040 Vision document that was a by-product of thousands of hours of meetings and discussions with the Brampton public. Those tenets were embraced as more than a vision but a real game plan for future growth. A blueprint.
But recent signs are worrying. Embracing the 2040 Vision might only go so far. The latest planning decisions on the Queen Street East Corridor and the GTA West Corridor stand in sharp contrast and make the city look inconsistent in its long-term outlook.
Oxford Properties, the owner of Square One Mall, has announced a project that will alter downtown Mississauga forever. The ambitious development plans include 37 towers which will replace acres of parking with dense housing, office space and walkable streets. While this project is fueled, in part, by the upcoming taxpayer-funded Hurontario LRT, the developer isn’t planning to give back to the city by constructing affordable housing units.
Once upon a time, Mississauga was a suburban dream, where large lots played host to front lawns, back lawns and multi-car garages. These days, the city is building upwards, with towers springing up left, right and center as it moves towards a denser future. However, the cost of years of urban sprawl is still coming to bear on the city’s taxpayers, with an ever-growing infrastructure gap and significant debt in the city’s books.
Daniel Amsler and Brianna Robinson have seen it all. Both work for Mississauga Community Legal Services, helping low-income renters protect themselves in a heated housing market. As defenders of struggling tenants, both are intimately aware of the city’s plethora of illegal secondary units. However, with high rental rates in Mississauga and a lack of options, the lawyers warn that if the city starts cracking down, local residents could end up on the streets.
For the first time in 20 years, all four of Ontario’s teachers’ unions are taking job action.
Next week, elementary teachers and Catholic teachers across the province will take part in a one-day strike, the latest in a string of efforts by the union to propel ongoing bargaining in their favour.
Six provinces in Canada have penalties for residents who waste emergency resources by needlessly calling 911, ranging from thousands of dollars in fines to short prison sentences. In Ontario, no such legislation exists. With the rate of inappropriate calls received by Peel police rising every year, Mississauga is considering how to address the ongoing negligence.
Despite explosive growth in its population from 2006 to 2019, Mississauga did not add a single fire truck or firefighter across this 13 year period.
With the fire service’s response time sitting at almost nine minutes in 2018, more than double the national standard, continued investment is desperately needed in Mississauga as the population grows and fire fighting infrastructure continues to age.
In 2016, the Region of Peel brought in a bylaw banning the smoking of shisha products inside buildings and on patios. The new rule was protested by the owners of several hookah bars in the area, who said the ban would drive them out of business. The legal fight made it all the way to the Supreme Court, which recently quashed the appeal, leaving local business owners with few options moving forward.
With the rise of violent crime in Peel over the last few years, Peel police have had to consistently devote more resources to solving the more heinous, highly public crimes, spreading thin a workforce that is already too small for a region this size.
The hard work has paid off, with Peel police maintaining high solvency rates for these violent crimes, but at what cost?
When the province offered cities across Ontario cash to help them host legal cannabis stores, Mississauga said no. Referencing concerns surrounding the locations in which stores might spring up, the city’s council was cautious.
As the province looks ahead to more changes in the cannabis industry and edible products go on sale, some are beginning to wonder if Mississauga shot itself in the foot by declining provincial funds.
Everyone with skin in the region’s public education system (whatever the colour) knows the impact of demographic changes, but a recent second school survey has managed to drill even deeper into the core of our school system’s strengths and weaknesses, right down to the hallways and classrooms. Trustee Kathy McDonald knows this year, and the next decade will also be a critical one in addressing anti-Black racism that has plagued the PDSB for years.
In January 2019, the updated parent and grandparent reunification process came under harsh criticism as it closed just nine minutes after opening. Across Mississauga, Brampton and Canada as a whole, people who had hoped to bring their relatives to live with them were left disappointed, frustrated and forced to wait another year to try again. However, just as January 2020 was about to present a second opportunity to invite relatives to Canada, the Liberal government slammed on the breaks.
Mississauga’s heated rental economy looks set to get hotter still in 2020, with a projected cost increase of eight percent across the next 12 months. A split in responsibility for housing between the city and the region alongside some reluctant developers has put further pressure on the housing market as it continues to move out of reach of ordinary residents.
With high rents an issue across the GTA, the province and federal government partnered in December to create a housing benefit for Ontarians, offering a short-term fix. The $1.4 billion scheme will offer rental support to 5,200 families across the province, despite doing little to solve systemic issues of supply.
It’s becoming unavoidable. Any future urban planning must include the caveat of preparing for the looming impacts of climate change. For Peel Public Health, our warming planet has become a key threat to the well being of residents.
As the new decade dawns, a recently released plan lays out the public health agency’s priorities for the next 10 years, and how it will deal with global warming, its impact on a rising tide of mental illness and a healthcare system the most vulnerable often can’t access.
Mississauga adopted a Vision Zero strategy in 2018, targeted at reducing pedestrian fatalities on its roads to zero. Since endorsing the policy, the city has moved slowly on potential changes, but with its proposed 2020 budget, council could make its biggest commitment yet.
The document suggests the hiring of a fulltime team leader for the project, alongside significant investment in automated speed cameras for the city.
Early in the new year, Brampton will face a major checkpoint in the city’s journey to a denser, more urban future.
A rezoning request for the Shoppers World redevelopment will be received on January 13, with plans in place to turn the mid-sized mall into a retail and residential space with 28-storey towers and nearly 5,000 living spaces. The plan could mark one of the first significant shifts toward the goals of Brampton's 2040 Vision.
The Mississauga Transitway has been a divisive piece of infrastructure since its creation, with many questioning the location in which it was built. Now, new figures provided to The Pointer by the city reveal the ridership measurement methods used by MiWay have inflated its transitway numbers, with real ridership significantly lower than reported.
Per-stop data for the system also reveals a major disparity in usefulness between stops along the route with one stop, Cawthra, averaging just 52 daily boardings.
It has been a long time since anyone in Mississauga considered the city to be an extension of Toronto, but further afield, it’s a reputation that continues to haunt the country’s sixth largest city.
With its international image and tourist appeal still clouded by its big cousin, the city is now exploring ways to break the mold. In 2020, a new tourism organization will be established with the aim of creating and distilling Mississauga’s identity before selling it to the rest of the world.
The conceptual images of Lakeview Village are idyllic. They show families enjoying open green space, modern mixed-use buildings, and the beauty of Lake Ontario spreading out in front of sleek condos. However, what the images don’t show is the smell which could be wafting through the headline development when the wind blows the wrong way.
The invisible risk to this key housing development comes from a wastewater sewage facility just 120 metres from where people are slated to live.
A program that has seen great success in the United States, identifying approximately 1,200 victims of human trafficking, is expanding into Canada for the first time.
Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) offers training and education to the trucking industry to help turn thousands of sets of eyes and ears that travel the nation’s highways — areas frequently used by traffickers — into crime-fighting tools to spot these pimps at work. A horrific case in the U.S. serves as an example of how truckers here can help fight this brutal crime.
While thousands across Peel spend Christmas and Boxing Day with their families, some will wake up in the wee hours to get to work. With public transit services limited for the holidays, it takes longer for some to commute on a day when everyone else is resting. As most relax, someone has to keep vital services running across Brampton and Mississauga.
In the Region of Peel, shelter facilities for the homeless have been stretched for years. Every budget, worries around tax increases and other financial pressures leave the region’s housing crisis as a problem for the next year. Though homelessness is now an unavoidable issue, between 2018 and 2019, some beds were taken away and some added through the region’s shelters, leading to a net increase of five spaces in total.
While highly-paid public officials pontificated about justice for taxpayers and the structure of the region, debating optics that impact their political fortunes, issues such as affordable housing, the growing crisis of homelessness, public health and child care funding were largely ignored during the just-completed budget approval process. Emergency shelters are groaning under the strain of ever soaring demand as winter arrives, but those most in need this holiday season have once again been ignored.
Regional Council celebrated the approval of the 2020 Peel budget with much praise for staff who were able to trim a little more from an already lean budget, resulting in a 1.5 percent tax increase in the regional share of the property bill, down from the initially proposed 1.7 percent. The most recently proposed police budget was not touched, despite a council request to trim it.
While council members celebrated their efforts on the tax increase, what wasn’t mentioned was the utility rate jump which spiked from an initial 6.3 percent increase to 7.2 percent.
After criticism of 2017 standards which effectively bar baptized Sikh paramedics from frontline work, the province has introduced changes that allow paramedic services to accommodate all employees.
The decision follows an arbitration in Hamilton on the subject and much debate, with Brampton East MPP Gurratan Singh raising the issue in the legislature, leading to the amended standards that should come into effect in January.
The Progressive Conservatives have handed Mississauga an early Christmas present with the news that they are abandoning plans to tear down the QEW Credit River Bridge. Reneging on a decision they made in November, the province has opted to put money into repairing the current heritage structure, which dates back to 1934.
With the third contradictory announcement on the topic, it illustrates a continued lack of certainty, which does not bode well for the major feat of engineering.
As the province of Ontario abruptly cancels the Hamilton LRT, Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie spoke to The Pointer about other transit projects in the city.
While the game changing LRT has been front and centre of Mississauga politics for years, projects like the Milton GO line have stagnated, with two-way all-day GO not expected on the key route until after 2041. Yet, with the GO update floundering, a new project on the horizon at Pearson Airport offers a revolutionary change to connect Mississauga’s commuters.
Days after an arbitration involving a Sikh paramedic in Hamilton who was unable to work because of new helmet regulations that in rare cases prevent the wearing of a beard, questions have been raised in the provincial legislature. Gurratan Singh asked Premier Doug Ford on Thursday what he would do to allow Sikh paramedics to continue to work and practice their religion.
Since the City of Mississauga last reviewed its ward boundaries in 2006, its population has grown by more than 100,000 people. As a result some councillors represent tens of thousands more residents than others. With the 2022 municipal election already on the minds of staff and councillors, the city has begun work on a review of the city’s wards.
A tense day at the Region of Peel saw the divide between Mississauga and Brampton continue to grow. With police funding at the centre of combative deliberations, the two cities clashed on how to proceed.
After Mississauga councillors led a vote forcing Peel Regional Police to reduce its budget request, they pushed to shift $69 million in policing costs to Brampton arguing the city is responsible for more of the force’s work, angering its members on regional council.
Safety standards applied by the province to Ontario paramedics in 2017 have been highlighted in a recent arbitration case in Hamilton.
Rules put in place to change the helmets worn by paramedics throughout the province, including in Peel, have left some, particularly Sikh workers, struggling to balance their individual rights with workplace rules.
With a Region of Peel 2020 budget that is short on solutions and investments to tackle the growing affordable housing crisis, one critical area is being looked after.
Peel is moving forward with help to make sure survivors of human trafficking have somewhere to go when fleeing these dangerous criminal networks operating in the region.
The City of Mississauga has approved a new economic growth strategy which sets out steps to make the city more appealing for people to live and work in.
Following the recent announcement that Bombardier will be setting up in the municipality, the new plan outlines steps to further boost the city, including how to make it less reliant on the car.
With regional councillors threatening to slash the proposed Peel police budget, efforts to improve efficiency were made clear by new chief Nishan Duraiappah during his first budget presentation last week.
But despite those efforts, the chief made it clear to councillors that any reduction in the proposed 5.4 percent budget hike could mean less new officers and compromised policing across Mississauga and Brampton.
Following an LPAT victory for the City of Toronto against Airbnb, municipalities around the province are considering the issue of short-term rentals again.
In Mississauga, like many other cities, technological disruptors such as Airbnb and Uber have caused councils plenty of headaches, and there remains a lack of ongoing scrutiny.
A reconciliation between Indigenous peoples and a city named after the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, might have taken place on the old hydro lands in Lakeview. However, a planned Indigenous village meant to honour our past and open up possibilities for the future, was eliminated in the latest version of this massive mixed-use development.
A group of activists will interact with Mayor Crombie later this month in hopes of reviving their dream.
A consortium of private-sector developers is planning to build a massive mixed-use Lakeview Village on the former lands of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. It’s a multi-billion-dollar scheme that has evolved from humble beginnings into vertical sprawl. The latest version is almost double the size from the original plan, and is sure to fill the developer’s pockets with what could amount to billions of extra dollars.
What it won’t do is make happy those from Eagle Spirits of the Great Waters, the Lakeview Residents Association, or the supporters of late Ward 1 councillor Jim Tovey who long-ago conceived an award-winning, people-friendly Lakeview Village plan that was sublime in concept, and built to “human scale.”
After seeing a draft version in September, Mississauga councillors officially endorsed the city’s climate action plan. The blueprint for a green future lays out a series of tasks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 80 percent of 1990 levels by 2050.
However, turning the sprawling and car-happy city into a Scandinavian paradise will not be simple or cheap.
Wednesday, December 4, was meant to be the day Mississauga’s City Council approved the 2020 budget. Instead, staring at a huge tax increase, councillors voted to delay until late-January when they will try to figure out how to cut corners so homeowners aren’t crippled with costs to pay for the city’s widening infrastructure gap. One key cost-cutting area to look at is the city’s hefty expense for staff salaries, benefits and pensions.
The province says a cache of $65 million in initiatives announced this year for anti-gun and gang initiatives will not be available for municipal applications until next year.
With very little wiggle room in the regional budget and hints already made that police will need to tighten the purse strings, it leaves councillors pulled in two different directions: respect the property tax payer while addressing a rise in gun and gang crime.
Last week, the provincial government put shovels in the ground on an expensive 18-kilometre widening of the 401 designed to reduce congestion. The project, which was initiated by the Ontario Liberals and continued by the Progressive Conservatives, will see three years of highway reconstruction to make driving easier. In the background, city and provincial priorities appear unaligned on the issues of transit expansion and protecting the environment.
The province of Ontario will provide $20 million annually to organizations across the GTA offering support to survivors of human trafficking.
Not only will the influx of funds help create new programs to help women and men who have been victims of sex trafficking, it will also allow for the creation of much needed, long-term supports.
They’re not as exciting as new train systems or glitzy public buildings, but the Region of Peel is responsible for key pieces of infrastructure that keep everything running, including waste management and water pipes and roads that crisscross through Brampton, Mississauga and Caledon. Numbers in the region’s proposed 2020 budget show just how much strain its $30 billion worth of infrastructure is under.
In the past, many seniors would sell their family home and downsize to a smaller, more affordable unit. However, a 21st century trend in Canada has seen more and more people hold onto their detached house in retirement, creating a squeeze on the property market. During budget season in municipalities, this creates an even bigger problem, as politically active senior residents on fixed incomes leave councillors in a dilemma.
Councillors from Mississauga dominated discussions at the first major Region of Peel budget meeting of the season.
Staff at the region say the proposed budget, with its tax increase of 1.7 percent for the region’s portion of the bill, is already as thin as it can safely be, yet the tone of discussions suggests changes will come. In particular, it was Peel Regional Police’s request for 35 new officers and an extra $23 million which came into question.
Mississauga Councillor Carolyn Parrish recently told the new chief of Peel Regional Police that he would be “a hero in Malton” after he announced plans to re-open the area’s community police station, which was closed in 2018. At the region’s most recent Police Services Board meeting, Chief Nish Duraiappah offered more details on an opening date and the free rent provided to the force, promising that the community station is just a short-term measure, with medium and long-term solutions to follow.
The Region of Peel is transforming its affordable housing service delivery in an attempt to make sure those who are most in need get into affordable housing first.
It remains unknown what impact this change will have on the centralized waitlist which has grown to nearly 15,000 people.
It is free for landlords to register secondary suites with Mississauga, where Brampton charges $200. Yet, as of November 1, fewer than 900 properties were registered with the city, while 163 complaints were made about units that might be illegal.
Research by The Pointer found multiple illegal basement units advertised for rent on online marketplaces, with the city confirming it had laid no charges in 2019 for unlawful rental properties.
After weeks of turmoil at the Peel District School Board, and an upcoming probe by the province into allegations of anti-Black racism within the board, Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown is speaking out.
In a letter to board chair Stan Cameron, Brown urges the board to get its act together, to stop dismissing community concerns and he suggests the board should undertake a diversity and inclusion audit – like those completed for Peel police and the City of Brampton – in order to find solutions.
The unions representing Ontario’s elementary and secondary school teachers have taken the first step toward a strike that would lock out almost a quarter of a million students across the region.
While union leaders urge that today’s work-to-rule action will keep teachers in the classroom and have little impact on students, it should be a signal to the province that things are not okay. Thousands of families across Peel would have to make alternate arrangements if teachers strike.