The Ontario government is poised to table its plan Thursday to “support future growth” in Peel Region, as a source says Mississauga and Brampton will break off into independent cities within three years.
Municipal Affairs Minister Steve Clark will introduce the legislation at Queen’s Park around 1 p.m., according to a government news release. He is then scheduled to hold a news conference alongside Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie and Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown at 1:30 p.m. You can watch it live in this story.
A source not authorized to speak publicly about the impending legislation said there will likely be controversial questions about the costs of the move for each city — something that both Crombie and Brown have made plain in recent weeks.
Another source said the decision to dissolve Peel Region was approved by Premier Doug Ford’s cabinet on Wednesday.
Peel currently consists of Mississauga and Brampton — the third and fourth largest cities in Ontario, respectively — and the Town of Caledon in the north. It was created in 1974 by the government of former premier Bill Davis, and the region is responsible for services such as paramedics, wastewater treatment, health programs and recycling.
Crombie, and former mayor Hazel McCallion before her, has long pushed for an independent Mississauga, arguing that too much of her city’s tax base goes to supporting development in Brampton.
‘Not been a fair relationship for Mississauga,’ mayor says
In an interview with CBC Radio’s Metro Morning on Thursday, Crombie called it a “historic day for Mississauga.”
She said that since Peel Region was formed nearly 50 years ago to help share the costs of major infrastructure projects, Mississauga has bore the brunt of the financial burden. During the city’s explosive growth in the 1970s and ’80s, Mississauga covered roughly 70 per cent of the costs of projects in Peel. In more recent years that figure has fallen to roughly 60 per cent, Crombie says.
“This has not been a fair relationship for Mississauga,” she told Metro Morning. “At the end of the day, we want to invest our tax dollars into our infrastructure needs, not to building out Brampton.”
But Crombie’s numbers are disputed by Brown, with each mayor relying on conflicting audit reports from two different firms that explored the costs and challenges of breaking apart Peel Region.
In a separate interview, Brown told Metro Morning that Brampton has supported growth in Mississauga and called on the province to ensure that his city is made whole in any dissolution of Peel Region. He said that there are currently multiple major projects underway in Brampton, including a sprawling new police facility, that Mississauga needs to help cover.
“All we want is the same per capita funding model that we used to build infrastructure in Mississauga,” he said, adding it would be “fundamentally egregious” for Brampton residents to be left footing the bills for various developments already in the works.
“Imagine you went to dinner with someone and they eat all the food and they say let’s split the bill?” Brown said.
Ford has promised that neither city will be treated unfairly in a break up of the region, Brown said.
“This has all happened very quickly. And [Ford’s] assurance to me is that Mississauga won’t be able run away without paying their bill,” he told guest host Piya Chattopadhyay.
Crombie expects that the legislation will include the creation of an audit panel to “manage the divorce” and ensure that assets are redistributed fairly. She said she would prefer that Peel police and Peel paramedics would remain intact.
Despite their differences, both mayors agree that removing the regional government would help expedite developments and decision making in both cities, especially as the province faces a historic housing crisis.
“There are some legitimate, real advantages, and I welcome those advantages,” Brown said. “With the caveat that this cannot be back of Brampton taxpayers.”