Megacity of Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon discussed as possibility

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Published February 15, 2023 at 1:58 pm

Ex-husband of former mayor Bonnie Crombie runs to succeed her in Mississauga

Rumblings of Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon becoming one megacity have come up in political discussions once again.

The discussions came to the forefront after the province announced they were looking into reducing “municipal duplication” in several two-tier municipalities including the Region of Peel,  last November. The municipalities are expecting to have further discussions with the province on the issue soon.

Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie has spoken out in favour of creating independent cities, while Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown has said he’s in favour of the legislation’s goal of reducing municipal redundancies.

But an amalgamation of Peel, much like the City of Toronto amalgamation back in 1998, is also possible and would be another way to reduce duplication.

When asked about the possibility of amalgamation, Premier Doug Ford said he has always supported Mississauga and Brampton becoming “stand-alone” cities.

“We are going to sit down with the mayors again,” Ford said at a press conference today (Feb. 15).

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He said Brampton, Mississauga and Caledon have seen tremendous growth.

“I have always been a believer that they should be stand-alone but this is going to be a conversation we are going to have with the mayors in the region along with our minister of municipal affairs, Steve Clark,” Ford said.

“Brampton doesn’t have an official position on this but we do look forward to working with the Ford government, the Premier and with Minister Steve Clark,” said Brampton Councillor Gurpartap Singh Toor during the press conference.

“Every step of the way we will be advocating for a fair share for Brampton, whether we stay in the current structure or we amalgamate as a bigger city, we do need to make sure residents of Brampton are treated fairly when it comes to services,” Toor said.

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On Feb. 7, at a Brampton Board of Trade event, Mayor Brown was asked if he could be the last mayor of Brampton. He said it is “healthy” to look at redundancies.

“The frustration we have on a Brampton level is sometimes the planning process gets delayed because of the redundancy by having planning departments at the Region of Peel and the City of Brampton. So, we do need to find ways to deliver services more efficiently,” Brown said.

Mayor Crombie has long advocated for Mississauga’s independence and yesterday (Feb. 14), at former Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion’s funeral, she mentioned the split from Peel again.

Crombie said she the last time she spoke to McCallion, the subject came up.

“When I asked her (McCallion) what would be next, she looked at me and she said…’independence’,” Crombie said while looking at Premier Ford.”‘It’s time for Mississauga to stand on her own two feet, a single tier independent city’ she said, ‘it’s long overdue.'”

And today, council passed her motion to reaffirm the position that Mississauga should be independent.

“As the 7th largest City in Canada, we are ready and capable to stand on our own,” Crombie said.

This discussion has been going on for about 15 to 20 years, said Zachary Spicer, associate professor in the School of Public Policy and Administration at York University. Most recently, it was examined in a regional review in 2018.

But Spicer believes neither a separation or amalgamation will happen.

“So if you separate Mississauga, the question is, what do you do with the rest of Peel Region?” Spicer asked.

Caledon is rural and it doesn’t make sense to make Brampton and Caledon one city, Spicer told insauga.com. And Caledon isn’t likely sustainable as a single tier municipality.

One option is to move Caledon under Dufferin County but that would distort the politics of that region, which is also a two-tier government but works under the county government system.

“So I think part of the reason that we haven’t seen any action on this issue for 25 years is because successive governments both Liberal, Conservative and even NDP have just…as you start thinking about what happens next, the problems begin to mount,” Spicer said.

A snag could come when discussing money as Peel has covered costs for regional roads and water. Spicer likens it to a divorce.

“Nobody gets sort of leave cleanly after you spent 20 years mixing your income and assets.”

Another possibility is a partial separation where certain services currently under the Region of Peel such as the planning department could move to the Mississauga and Brampton levels.

“That is actually a viable option,” he said.

Shari Lichterman, Mississauga’s acting city manager and chief administrative officer, told insauga.com different possibilities have been discussed in the past.

“There is the option of either separating and becoming a standalone (city), or the possibility of amalgamation, which is what happened, of course, in Toronto and Ottawa,” Lichterman said.

She sees many issues with amalgamation.

“There’s been a lot of analysis on amalgamation over the last several years. And, you know, it hasn’t been demonstrated to reduce costs. It’s actually created a lot of complications,” she said.

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Previous amalgamations have tended to bring smaller municipalities together under a larger city but Brampton, at a population of 656,480, and Mississauga, with 717,961 people, are two very large cities, each with strong identities, she added.

“The idea of putting Mississauga and Brampton, two of the biggest cities in the province together, right beside Toronto,” said Lichterman. “It doesn’t seem like that would be the best option to pursue.”

There are many advantages for Mississauga’s separation including taxes and faster service — the top ten are outlined here. The City of Mississauga feels they have been paying more than there fair share for some services.

But Lichterman said it would make sense to continue sharing some services such as Peel Regional Police. And services such as water and waste water could be moved to a utility provider.

Lichterman said they are now waiting on the province for the next steps.

“We have not seen the terms of reference or any of the specifics on what this review or assessment is going to look like,” she said. “I’m hoping that any day now we’ll see some information on this.”

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