Mississauga angry at province’s decision to keep Region of Peel intact

 

The City of Mississauga has expressed disappointment (and Brampton is breathing a sigh of relief) following the province's decision to keep the Region of Peel intact. 

"After a year of waiting for the results of the province's regional governance review, I'm extremely disappointed that the province has decided to maintain the status quo on regional governance," Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie said in a statement. 

"While this is not the outcome Mississauga had hoped for, we accept the province's decision and will continue to work with our colleagues in Brampton and Caledon, and staff at the Region to ensure good government continues for the residents of Peel and Mississauga."

The government announced its decision to keep the province's regional governments intact today (Oct. 25), saying that it will provide funding to municipalities to govern their own affairs.

Today's announcement follows a year-long examination of the efficiency of regional governments in Peel, Durham, York, Halton, Niagara, Waterloo, Muskoka District and Simcoe Country. 

After the review was announced, municipalities were unsure if regions would be dissolved or if smaller cities would be amalgamated into larger ones.

It appears the province is interested in maintaining the status quo. 

The province says that over the course of its examination, 8,500 submissions were received and special advisors, Michael Fenn and Ken Seiling, attended nine in-person sessions and listened to ideas from individuals and organizations on how to improve their local governments.

"Throughout this extensive review, the government heard that local communities should decide what is best for them in terms of governance, decision-making and service delivery. After careful consideration of the feedback we heard through the course of the review, our government stands firm in its commitment to partnering with municipalities without pursuing a top-down approach. We will provide municipalities with the resources to support local decision-making," the province wrote in a news release. 

The City of Brampton said it welcomes the news, adding that the regional government system works well for cities. 

"Brampton city council's resolution in May 2019 was clear that maintaining the current structure helps protect the best interest of Peel Region taxpayers. This decision was based on two independent financial reports which showed the continuation of pooling resources through the Region protects the taxpayer and we thank Premier Ford for putting the taxpayer first," Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown said in a statement.  

"The Region of Peel is an important contributor to Ontario’s economy, and Brampton plays a significant role as it sits at the heart of the Innovation Corridor. Brampton will maintain its focus on remaining financially prudent and delivering services in the most cost-effective way possible for taxpayers while driving economic growth and employment opportunities." 

The province says it is providing up to $143 million to municipalities to help them lower costs and improve services for local residents over the long term. 

Funding will be available to all 444 municipalities.

“Municipalities are the level of government closest to the people, but every community is different - one size doesn’t fit all,” said Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. 

“This investment in communities will support municipal transformation efforts to make sure they are delivering efficient, effective and modern services that best meet the unique needs of their residents.”

While Mississauga has attempted to convince Queen's Park to allow it to go its own way before, the city pushed hard for a "MissExit" shortly after Ford announced the regional governance review. In the wake of the announcement, conflicting reports have emerged, with some suggesting keeping the region intact will be more cost-effective and others suggesting taxpayer savings for Mississauga in the event of a dissolution.

Earlier this year, the Region of Peel commissioned an independent financial analysis on the fiscal impact of potentially dissolving or carving up the region. The push for the report emerged after a Deloitte report--which the City of Mississauga disputed--suggested it would cost billions for Mississauga to exit Peel.

The newer report—which suggests Mississauga residents would enjoy some savings—was conducted by Ernst & Young (EY) and released around the same time that Brampton city council officially voted to keep the region intact.  

In a statement released earlier this year, Crombie said that the report vindicates the city and makes a commendable case for separation.

“The newly released independent financial analysis conducted by Ernst & Young (EY) confirms what Mississauga has known for 45 years: our taxpayers have not been getting a fair deal and have been carrying the financial burden at the Region of Peel for far too long,” Crombie said. 

“EY confirms that if Mississauga were to separate from the Region, Mississauga taxpayers would see $84 million in savings. This report proves Mississauga’s long-held position that our city would be better off, both financially and from a governance perspective, should we become independent.”

On Oct. 25, Crombie said that while the province has been clear that local communities need to decide what's best for them in terms of governance, decision-making and service delivery, there are still some "significant underlying issues at the Region of Peel."

"Over the last year, study after study has shown that Mississauga is not getting a fair deal from the Region - the governance and financial model is broken," Crombie wrote. 

"Representation by population does not work, as Caledon councillors still have a vote worth four times that of a Mississauga regional councillor; Mississauga is still sending $84 million more per year to the region than we are receiving back in services; and there is still a great deal of duplication between the region and the city that needs to be addressed."

Crombie said she hopes Brampton, Mississauga and Caledon can work together to address the issues. 

"Now that this review has concluded, it is my hope that our regional colleagues in Brampton and Caledon will work with us to address these issues. I would hope they would understand the real concerns of Mississauga councillors and residents and ensure every resident and taxpayer in Peel Region gets a fair deal. Our work is not done. We must work together to advance the priorities of each member of the Region of Peel. Mississauga residents and taxpayers must be treated fairly."

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