2019 was the year that the City of Mississauga believed it could shed the shackles of Regional Governance that it believes is holding it back. The Region of Peel, and nine other regions like it in Ontario underwent a review announced by the Ford government in January. According to the provincial government, the goal of the review was “to help ensure that these municipalities are working effectively and efficiently, and can continue to provide the vital services that these growing communities depend on.” After hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on consultants, Mississauga’s council opted to advocate for separation from the region. Brampton’s council opted to advocate to keep the region intact.
On October 25th, the Ford government completed its review and announced that it would not shake up the structure of any of the regions. It was a generational decision it seemed that would end the bickering at Peel Regional Council meetings with Mississauga claiming that it is unfairly subsidizing Brampton and Caledon residents. Not so. Regional Council meetings since the October 25th decision have been extremely polarizing.
The December 12th Regional Council meeting abruptly ended with all of Brampton’s councillors walking out near the end of the meeting after a vote was called by Mississauga Councillor Carolyn Parrish and seconded by Mississaug Councillor Pat Saito to change how Brampton and Mississauga residents fund Peel Police.
Currently, the Peel Police budget is funded by the Region of Peel based on property tax assessment resulting in Mississauga residents covering 67% of the policing costs, and Brampton residents covering 33%.
Peel Police costs are $912 on average for each Brampton property and $1226 for each Mississauga property. Brampton Councillors argue that costs associated with the marine unit and employment land policing are examples of areas where costs in Mississauga are higher. Caledon is policed by the OPP at a cost of $494 per property.
The vote to change the funding model for Peel Police to an Ontario Provincial Police use of service model would have resulted in a huge tax windfall reduction in the millions of dollars for Mississauga residents that Brampton residents would have been on the hook for in 2021. Debate on the funding model motion was limited after Mississauga Councillor Karen Ras “called the question” and forced an immediate vote that was seconded by Mississauga Councillor Sue McFadden. As a result of the Brampton Councillors walking out of the meeting, the meeting could not be continued (at least 1 member of each municipality needs to be present for any vote).
The December 19th Regional Council meeting was fraught with procedural debate and strategy that few in the room seem to understand following the previous meetings abrupt ending. Further, the two councillors who moved the original motion to change the Police funding model (Parrish and Saito) were not in attendance. Since the “movers” of the original motion were not at the meeting, the motion could not be recalled to defuse the polarization at the meeting.
In the end, Councillor Ras was allowed to “withdraw the question and refer to staff”, which meant that councillors were then allowed to vote on sending the original motion for staff to report back on. Confused yet?
Brampton and Caledon Councillors had the rare opportunity to shut down the Police funding model review for this term of council since four Mississauga Councillors were not present at the meeting and the numbers were on Brampton’s side. Mayor Brown was surprised when the final vote came in as a tie (10 for, 10 against) with Chair Nando Iannacca breaking the tie in Mississauga’s favour. Caledon Councillors Ian Sinclair and Annette Groves both sided with Mississauga.
What does a referral to staff mean for residents? For Brampton residents, it means Mississauga Councillors can continue to put pressure and put more of the financial burden on Brampton. Brampton Councillors will have to continue to fight to keep Regional services and costs under control, and to show proof that Brampton and Caledon residents have helped Mississauga grow to the city it is now. Mayor Crombie is adamant that Mississauga has always funded its growth through development charge repeating that “our DCs paid for our growth… period.”
Mayor Crombie also left on the table the idea that her council would support Brampton’s desire to have more representation at the Region. She addressed Regional Council saying “we are asking you to vote with us so we can try to make this a little more equitable, and we would support you if you came and said we need more representation because we think Brampton is under represented too.” Currently, Brampton has seven seats (6 Councillors and the Mayor) on Regional Council and is looking to have four more seats. Mississauga has twelve seats (11 Councillors and Mayor) on Regional Council and Caledon has five (4 Councillors and Mayor).