A group of Brampton business leaders has a vision for the city’s future and enough passion to make it happen. The group, ‘New Brampton,’ is focusing on the downtown revitalization plan, envisioning the new Ryerson University campus and a major downtown public transportation hub.

New Brampton recently outlined its grand vision in a well-attended town hall meeting at the Brampton City Hall Conservatory. The target, as their initiative gains momentum, is to inform residents of the group’s progress and to address questions from the public. Judging by the turnout, it’s evident there is strong interest from Brampton residents.

The group’s main objective for realizing its vision is infrastructure. John Cutruzzola, New Brampton advisory committee member and ardent visionary, says the downtown core needs an infusion of hundreds of millions of dollars. He points to the infrastructure spending promises made by both the Harper Conservatives and Trudeau Liberals, which together amount to $125 billion over 10 years. Cutruzzola claims that Brampton, as Canada’s ninth largest city with a population approaching 700,000, is due its share of that money. But getting it requires a vision for the future that is well planned, realistic and justified by its potential to stimulate economic growth. The plan also needs the community behind it and that’s why New Brampton is offering a petition for residents to sign: to lobby governments to pay attention to Brampton.

New Brampton’s infrastructure vision calls for east-west light rail transit along the Queen Street corridor, with McMurchy Avenue and/or Kennedy Road as the north-south route. Cutruzzola sees the Kennedy route stimulating major commercial and residential development from Steeles Avenue to Queen Street, replacing the aging industrial-commercial area with modern high-density residential appeal. The key to the whole plan, he says, is the downtown location of the university campus. Some city councillors favour a location near the downtown Go station, while New Brampton sees it at Rosalea Park, adjacent to the Union Street YMCA.

Cutruzzola explains that the Rosalea Park location would require flood plain remediation. That, in turn, would solve Brampton’s downtown flood plain problem, which would allow for higher-density commercial-residential development in the downtown core. According to Cutruzzola, city council’s preference for the university location near the Go station doesn’t address the flood plain issue, which continues to limit Brampton’s development. Part of the appeal for the Rosalea location, he says, is its convenient proximity to public transit and the Etobicoke Creek Riverwalk with its paved pathways for cyclists.

Integral to the plan is the so-called “High Tech Corridor,” as envisioned by universities at Toronto, Waterloo and London, which see the area developing along the lines of Silicon Valley in California. Per capita, Brampton has one of the most highly educated young populations in the country but the more attractive high-tech jobs are mostly outside the city. As is evident in the daily crush of commuters in and out of the city, Brampton is exporting its talent pool when it could be using it to attract international businesses and allow people to work closer to home. But, to be more attractive to business, Brampton’s downtown needs major revitalization.

The New Brampton board of directors includes some of Brampton’s most illustrious business leaders and professionals volunteering their combined expertise to help the city plan its future. Says Cutruzzola, it’s a welcome initiative for residents looking forward to their city fulfilling its yet unrealized potential.

For more information and to sign the petition, visit www.newbrampton.com.