Ford government regional review puts Brampton in ‘limbo,’ mayor and councillors say
Brampton’s mayor and council say the uncertainty surrounding the Ontario government’s ongoing regional governance review is making short and long-term budgeting and planning in Canada’s ninth-largest city difficult.
The Ford government recently informed Brampton it was pushing its decision on whether Peel Region — made up of Brampton, Mississauga and Caledon — will amalgamate into a super city, dissolve or remain as is from August until November.
Peel is one of eight regions in addition to Simcoe County the province is currently reviewing for possible changes. Mississauga has informed the province of its desire to leave the region, while Brampton and Caledon wish to maintain the status quo.
“We have to be careful how much we’re committed to for what could shift in November. We hope that nothing shifts, Brampton gets it way and the regional government will continue. But, I hate to spend a few million dollars that would be wasted if things change,” Mayor Patrick Brown told council.
The mayor shared his concerns at council’s June 19 regular meeting as members debated approving initial procurement funds for a new Brampton Transit storage facility planned for 2024.
“We’re not going to know the results of the regional governance review until November. I don’t want us committing to a major project until we know whether there is going to be a single transit agency or if we’re going to continue to have the current setup,” added Brown.
Transit is just one file which could see significant changes should the review result in an amalgamated or dissolved Region of Peel, with many services and billions in infrastructure divided up between the regional government and its three municipal counterparts.
Brown isn’t alone, with several Brampton councillors voicing similar concerns and frustrations.
“It really does put us in limbo and that’s a frustrating place,” said wards 7 and 8 Councillor Charmaine Williams. “It would be great for us to have an answer sooner rather than later.”
Due to the risk in committing funding and resources to projects which could be cancelled or significantly change should the region amalgamate or split, the city is being forced to phase-in funding piecemeal until after the province issues its decision in the fall.
While sharing his fellow council members’ concerns, wards 3 and 4 Councillor Jeff Bowman said he still supports the review and hopes good things will come out of it regardless of what Premier Doug Ford and the provincial government ultimately decides for Peel and the 1.4 million residents who call it home.
“If the provincial government doesn’t look at how regional governments are operating every now and again, we don’t know if we’re spending too much money or if there are savings to be had.” he said.
“The only thing I don’t like is (the review) seems to be putting us in a hold pattern. We’re trying to get things done, we’re trying to do things, but everything seems to be contingent on what the region is going to do (or) what the region is going to look like.”
“It makes it hard to plan,” added Bowman.
News Credit – The Star