Peel politicians are being cautiously optimistic over plans by Queen’s Park to review the future of regional government. The province is looking at eight municipalities, including Peel Region which is comprised of Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon.
The plan calls for a lengthy consultation process with various stakeholders as well the public at large. While a number of areas will be examined, the review will essentially look at how multi-tiered local government is working, the duplication of services, how to create more efficiencies and, ultimately, whether the form of regional government as we know it should survive.
The review comes on the heels of changes planned by the former Liberal provincial government that were overturned last spring when Ontario elected a Conservative government. At that time, new Premier Rob Ford cancelled changes the previous government had planned, but vowed his government would conduct its own review of regional government.
Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie welcomed this week’s news with the hope that a review will take Mississauga out of regional government, a long-standing position held by her predecessor, Hazel McCallion. In a released statement, Crombie said it is time to re-evaluate Mississauga’s relationship with the Region of Peel and whether or not it makes financial sense. Mississauga politicians believe, as the largest city in the region, it props up the other two municipalities.
“As Ontario’s third largest city with a population approaching 800,000, it’s time for Mississauga to be able to control its own destiny as a single-tier city much like other large cities in Ontario including Ottawa, Hamilton, Windsor and London,” says Crombie.
All three Peel mayors were in attendance at Queen’s Park for the review announcement, which had been anticipated since the provincial election. Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown also welcomed the review pointing out that efficiencies need to be looked at.
“I hope that the municipality and the region will be consulted sincerely as this process unfolds,” Brown told reporters. “Obviously, there are savings when it comes to numbers whether it’s waste management or Peel police. We look forward to participating in that consultation,”
Caledon Mayor Allan Thompson was unavailable for comment. However, Caledon has been historically in favour of the regional government concept, but politicians there recognize, as the smallest municipality in Peel, they can be overwhelmed by the decisions made by those in Brampton and Mississauga.
The Region of Peel was created in 1974 when it brought the three municipalities together in the expectation that some services could be combined. At that time Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon were still largely rural (if not suburban) but since have grown significantly. All three municipalities still largely operate independently, but share such services as waste management, some policing, housing, road maintenance and other social services.