Peel split: The numbers simply haven’t added up for Mississauga, mayor says

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Published May 18, 2023 at 10:17 am

Anthony Urciuoli/hamilton.insauga.com photo

Mississauga appears to be finally getting the political divorce it’s been seeking for decades, and the mayor of Canada’s seventh-largest city is screaming the good news–for her municipality, anyway–from the rooftops.

Mayor Bonnie Crombie, her council and City of Mississauga staff are hosting a news conference this afternoon (May 18) at 3:30 p.m., when they’ll provide “an update on Mississauga.”

Aside from perhaps a few specifics on next steps in the “divorce” proceedings, most or all that needs to be said on the subject at hand has already been said–starting several decades ago under former mayor Hazel McCallion’s reign.

And the Ontario government will add to its position at a news conference it has scheduled for today (May 18) at 1:30 p.m., just ahead of Mississauga’s planned response.

Multiple media outlets have reported that the Province of Ontario will announce Thursday that it’s dissolving the Region of Peel, which includes the municipalities of Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon.

Mississauga and Brampton, two of the largest municipalities in the province, are set to become independent cities. It’s not clear what will happen with the smaller municipality of Caledon, located north of Brampton.

Crombie has been especially vocal on the subject of a Peel split this week, particularly in the last 24 hours.

Wednesday morning at City council, Mississauga’s mayor responded to public comments made earlier this week by her Brampton counterpart, Patrick Brown.

Brown says he’s not necessarily against a splitting of Peel, but he insists Mississauga owes a significant amount of money to its neighbour to the north under any dissolution agreement given residents there have helped fund Mississauga’s infrastructure over the years.

“I understand Mayor Brown has to put forward his own narrative. However, we know it’s a little far-fetched and the math simply doesn’t add up. I mean, that’s just simply a fact,” Crombie said matter-of-factly at City council.

McCallion’s handpicked successor when she moved into the mayor’s office in 2014, Crombie, 63, was somewhat more exuberant in several media interviews since.

“It’s a historic day for Mississauga,” Crombie said in an interview this morning (May 18) with CBC Radio. “I will be doing my happy dance if it really happens this afternoon.”

At this week’s City council meeting, Crombie spoke more about the numbers, the math, and she contends the figures simply haven’t added up in any equitable way for Mississauga over the decades.

She says a split from Peel will save Mississauga taxpayers $1 billion in the next decade.

“Mississauga was built out first 50 years ago and we have been supplying the funding for the Region of Peel at a rate of 70 per cent of the funding for the (first) 40 years,” she told her council, staff and those in attendance at the meeting. “Only in the past 10 years has it come down a little with Brampton’s growth, down to 66 per cent and 65 and today it’s at 60 per cent, notwithstanding we still have only 50 per cent of the vote. Let’s not forget that.”

Additionally, Mississauga’s mayor notes, the City has been sending $84 million a year in transfer payments to Brampton to cover things such as Peel Regional Police services.

That has also been an unfair deal, contends Crombie, who believes Peel Regional Police should be kept intact under any separation agreement.

“It’s not fair that…we pay for a large portion of the policing in Brampton. That’s not correct. It should be based on usage,” said Crombie, adding Brown has often pointed to the number of 911 calls placed to Peel police.

“Yes, there are more (911) calls in Mississauga, but our population is greater. So, if we’re 55 to 60 per cent of the population and 50 per cent of the calls, and (Brampton is) 40 per cent of the population and 50 per cent of the calls, whose residents are calling more often? So, it’s just math and the math tells the story.

“Of course, it’s subject to interpretation and, again, Mayor Brown is entitled to his position and his narrative, and in my view it is not an accurate one.”

The Region of Peel is responsible for services such as paramedics, police, health programs and recycling in the three municipalities.

The provincial government will reportedly study the costs associated with dissolution of the Region of Peel and come up with a formula that would be financially equitable to all municipalities involved.

–with files from The Canadian Press

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