Everything You Need to Know About What Could Happen to the Region of Peel
For better or worse, changes are coming a mile a minute in Ontario under the new Doug Ford government, and that includes the very structure within which our local governments operate. As I’m sure you’ve seen in the news many times already, the province is currently undertaking a review of eight regional governments in Ontario, including Peel Region, and doing so at a very rapid pace.
Time is short, but there’s a lot to unpack, so below you will find a summary of the story so far, the information you need to make sense of it all, and the different ways you can have a say in this review process.
The story so far
The Region of Peel - all regional governments in fact - are a relatively new addition within Ontario, having been created under Premier Bill Davis between 1970 and 1974. Peel Region in particular was created at the start of 1974 from what was previously known as the County of Peel.
These governments were created to provide common services in an efficient manner to urban and rural municipalities such as a single police force, waste management systems and, in some regions, public transit. A range of infrastructure (water, sewage, certain roads and bridges) as well as social services and programs are also delivered under regional government. The structure has at times been controversial, as council membership is rarely by election but rather decided by the constituent municipalities themselves. Attempts to change this have had limited success, as seen just last year when the current provincial government suddenly cancelled newly-approved regional chair elections for several regional governments, including Peel.
Now back to this review underway, the provincial government is examining the governance, decision-making, and service delivery functions of eight regional municipalities and their lower-tier municipalities. This includes Peel Region, which consists of Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon. According to the province, the purpose of the review is “to help ensure that these municipalities are working effectively and efficiently, and can continue to provide the vital services that communities depend on.”
Two special advisors, Michael Fenn and Ken Seiling, have been appointed to provide recommendations to “improve governance, decision-making and service delivery.” When the public consultation period was announced in February the province set a deadline to submit feedback by April 23 - but this past week that deadline has been moved to May 21, providing more time for all parties to have their say, as well as new ways to provide such feedback.
While significant public feedback is being gathered, it should be noted that the province ultimately has the final say on what happens to the form and function of governments within this study. Based on the current timeline laid out by the Province, recommendations will be submitted to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing early this summer, with additional deliberations possible with the appointed special advisors until September 30, 2019.
The information you need
There are two key resources to examine when it comes to exploring what the costs and benefits may be in having Mississauga stay part of or leave the Region of Peel (or join with the other municipalities to form the City of Peel). As examined last week by one of our reporters, Mississauga has a clear advantage in getting its preferred option (the formal position of the city is to leave the Region of Peel) based on their relationship with the province to date.
That being said, there is also a strong case for keeping the Regional system intact, based on an analysis by Deloitte examining the financial impact to municipal service delivery models. While the Region itself can’t take an official position, it has retained the services of Deloitte (the Region’s external auditor) to provide this third-party analysis. Yet again, it’s not a perfect answer, as each municipality within Peel fairs differently depending on which path is chosen. If not staying, or going, there is also the option that many have not considered viable at the local level, and has a rough history of causing problems, but remains an option nonetheless - the City of Peel.
So take a look at the coverage from the stories linked above, and, if you want more detail, have a look at the detailed reports themselves:
Reporting by Deloitte on the Region of Peel website can be found here: http://peelregion.ca/government-review/
Reporting by the City of Mississauga (which is challenged by the Deloitte report in the Supplementary documents, above) can be found here: http://www.mississauga.ca/portal/cityhall/regional-government-review
If you’re really keen to hear some perspective from our elected officials and experts evaluating our options check out TVO’s special episode on the Regional Governance Review which aired earlier this winter here and here.
How to have your say
Last but certainly not least, here the different ways you can have your say in this Regional Governance Review. There are two main methods at the municipal level and three main methods at the provincial level for providing your feedback, as outlined below:
At the Mississauga Town Hall (April 8th from 7-9pm in Mississauga Civic Centre - Council Chambers, details here)
Share your thoughts directly with your Mayor and Councillors (contact details here)
By letter or email to the Province (deadline May 21st, details here)
By completing the online survey (details here)
By meeting the special advisors and speaking at one of the Regional sessions (submit your request between April 3-9 here)
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