Brampton Mayor Brown only member of council absent from vote on tax hike for new hospital

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Published April 6, 2022 at 1:37 pm

Brampton’s top elected official was the only member of council not to vote on a motion that will soon see a spike in resident’s tax bills despite the city promising a 0 per cent freeze.

Council approved bringing in a 1 per cent tax levy on Thursday to fund its portion of the Peel Memorial Centre hospital upgrade project and a new cancer treatment centre.

The tax increase does away with the promise of a fourth consecutive year of a 0 per cent tax increase in Brampton – a freeze widely broadcast by the city and Mayor Patrick Brown after council unanimously approved the 2022 budget in December.

The city’s portion of the projects come in at $125 million, and Brampton has already covered half the bill by transferring $62.5 million from capital reserves.

Introduced by Coun. Pat Fortini, the new levy will go towards filling that funding gap.

Only Coun. Michael Palleschi voted against the tax hike, while Mayor Patrick Brown – who was attending the meeting virtually – was either not logged on at the time of the vote or abstained from the decision.

City staff said they had identified surplus funds in the city budget to pay for the 2022 portion of the levy, an option advocated for by the mayor during Wednesday’s meeting.

But council ultimately voted 9-2 with one absence to bring in the levy – a decision which could be undone after a new council is voted in after October’s municipal election.

Fortini likened voting against the levy to “playing games” with healthcare, while Palleschi said the tax increase was designed “to make Mayor Brown look bad” during his run for Conservative Party of Canada leadership.

“The only political games that are being had here are to make Mayor Brown look bad in front of the residents of Canada when he’s trying to get his bid in for leadership of the Conservative Party to be, hopefully, the future the prime minister,” Palleschi said. “That’s the only game being played.”

Fortini responded, saying the motion was not an attack on Mayor Brown and his leadership bid “has nothing to do with it.”

“And if Mayor Brown wants to go for leadership, he can,” Fortini said. “He’s gone and we’re stuck with a problem, if you want to put it that way. And I don’t want my residents being stuck with a problem without a second hospital.”

The hospital development has already seen a more than $1 billion commitment from the province, and just last week the province committed to helping fund a new $365-million cancer treatment centre after a motion by Brampton-Centre NDP MPP Sara Singh passed with bipartisan support.

The new centre will be part of the Brampton Civic Hospital campus and is in addition to the Peel Memorial Urgent Care Centre expansion.

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