Ontario to break up Peel Region in 2025, but mayors signal it could be a nasty divorce
Peel Region will be dissolved at the start of 2025, the Ontario government says, though key questions remain about what shape the breakup will ultimately take.
Municipal Affairs Minister Steve Clark tabled legislation Thursday that will begin the process of restructuring Mississauga and Brampton — the third and fourth largest cities in Ontario — and the Town of Caledon into independent municipalities.
Clark announced the bill at a news conference alongside Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie and Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown.
Speaking at Queen’s Park Thursday, Clark said Peel region, which is already home to 1.5 million people, will grow by half a million people in the next two decades and that those people will need homes to live in.
“To build these homes to the scale and speed that is required, the people of these three municipalities will need local governments that are not only nimble but efficient enough to get that done,” he said.
The bill has been dubbed the Hazel McCallion Act, after the former mayor who served Mississauga for 36 years. McCallion died in January at the age of 101.
Clark said the province wants to give the mayors of Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon the same “strong mayor” powers that have been given to mayors in Toronto and Ottawa. The powers allow mayors in those cities to propose bylaws and pass them with the support of one-third of councillors.
It’s possible the three locales might still share some services following dissolution, Clark said.
Asked if Peel police could be among them, Clark said that will be up to the mayors and transition board.
Mayors differ on details of a fair deal
As for the financial fallout of the break-up, the mayors of Mississauga and Brampton have signalled there could be a battle over exactly what a fair deal might look like.
Crombie has long pushed for an independent Mississauga and called Thursday a “historic day.” Brown has said there are “some legitimate, real advantages” in eliminating the second layer of government at the regional level.
Ealier in the day, Crombie told CBC Radio’s Metro Morning she doesn’t want her city’s tax dollars being spent building out Brampton.
“I asked that our tax dollars continue to be invested in our city for our growth and infrastructure, our programs and services,” Crombie later said at the news conference.
But Brown disputes Crombie’s numbers, with each mayor relying on conflicting audit reports from two different firms that explored the costs and challenges of breaking apart Peel Region.
“Every single cent we put in to build that infrastructure in Mississauga, my residents expect back,” Brown said at the news conference.
Brown said his city’s consultants say the cost of replacing the water treatment and waste water facility currently in Mississauga would cost Brampton a total of $4 billion.
Brown said if Brampton isn’t “made whole” it would be “catastrophic” for property taxes in the city.
Crombie suggested it’s Mississauga that needs to be made whole for the contributions it’s made while Brampton and Caledon grew.
Asked about Brown’s concerns that Brampton deserves financial support for the infrastructure it has helped build in Peel, Clark said he thinks a deal will come that works for all three municipalities.
“The transition board will deal with financial matters, we believe there are good quality municipal services being delivered equitably and fairly now,” Clark said during the news conference.
Crombie too said she believes a deal can be worked out amicably.
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