This was a well-attended town hall, not surprising given the stakes involved. It started with City Manager Janice Baker and Mayor Bonnie Crombie discussing the recent report commissioned by the city suggesting that Mississauga was subsidizing Brampton and Caledon by $85 million per year and various reasons why Mississauga as a stand alone city would be feasible.
There was also mention of a subsequent report done by Deloitte that was recently published online by the Region of Peel (without council approval) that disputed Mississauga’s findings, suggesting that it would be more costly to either dissolve the region or amalgamate it into a single city.
This fact was echoed by Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown who tweeted out a reminder about that report during the town hall.
One of the primary arguments for Mississauga leaving Peel Region was it would reinforce and strengthen Mississauga’s “identity” and spur on civic pride. This left at least one resident by name Michael scratching his head. He pointed out that Mississauga lacked an identity and could be described more like a collection of cultural communities living together in a bedroom community.
“I’ve lived in Canada for about 50 years; Mississauga has always been a ‘non entity’; it’s where the overflow from Toronto goes,” he said, saying he was disappointed there was no serious discussion over identity, only turf and money. Naturally then, Mayor Crombie who is known to boast about Mississauga’s world-famous diversity told Michael in no uncertain terms that she was ashamed of him.
Mayor Bonnie Crombie reiterated that her city of nearly 800,000 people should be able to be independent.
“We’re hopeful that this time the third largest city in Ontario can stand on its own two feet and govern our own affairs, much the way cities line Windsor, Hamilton, Guelph, Thunder Bay, Sudbury and even tiny Dryden, Ont., do,” she said.
Some residents at the meeting expressed concerns over how separation would affect city services, affordable housing and taxation.
Mississauga council said it considered amalgamation with its two counterparts — Brampton and Caledon — to form one large city, but instead ultimately voted to ask the province to separate.
The chair of the Mississauga Residents Association said more information needs to be collected before a decision this big can be made.
As well, concerns were raised over some findings in a report commissioned by Peel Region that directly contradict Mississauga’s data.
“We disagree with many of the assumptions made in the Deloitte report,” Crombie told the crowd. “It assumes, for instance, there would have to be two police boards. We don’t agree with that. There’s no problem with the way the Peel police board operates today. They also make the point that there would be efficiencies of merging Parks and Recreation. We would never do that.”
The mayors of both Brampton and Caledon are opposed to the idea of a divorce with Mississauga.
In the end, it will be up to the provincial government to decide if Mississauga will be able to separate.
The province is currently undergoing a review of nine municipalities across Ontario, including Peel, York and Durham region, which is expected to wrap up in June.
Perhaps this exercise is simply to make a case for Mississauga before Premier Ford imposes his own vision for the city. That is something that could happen anyway, but for now, Peel politicians are going out of their way to assert their power and vision. -CINEWS