Back in 1974, the Regional of Peel made a lot of sense. As Hazel McCallion said in her book, “the intent of regional government was for cities and towns to share services like police, garbage, and water to save money.”
That was the point when Mississauga, Brampton, and Caledon formed together. Bearing in mind, it was only six years prior that areas like Streetsville and Port Credit stitched together to create the city of Mississauga. So forming an alliance with two other cities and pooling resources made a lot of sense.
However, as McCallion went on to say in her book, “I’ve always argued regional government in Peel actually causes duplication of services and costs taxpayers more money.” McCallion made her plea for Mississauga to separate from Peel for many years prior to her retirement. Her successor has continued carrying that torch, and it seems Mayor Bonnie Crombie may actually be making serious headway.
“I know fairly confidently that this is very popular notion,” said Crombie to CP24. “We very much want to be an independent city, a single tier city, much the way that Windsor, London, Guelph, Sault Ste. Marie, Thunder Bay and Hamilton are. Why shouldn’t Mississauga be too? We are the third largest city in Ontario. We should control our own destiny.”
Mayor Crombie’s leading argument for Mississauga’s independence is the amount it pumps into the region, and how little it earns in return. For context, Mississauga provides 59% of the funding for Peel, which amounts to a whopping $85 million. That’s an awful lot of taxpayer money that could be spent on solely improving Mississauga.
“We have paid for the growth of both Brampton and Caledon,” said Crombie to The Globe and The Mail. “We believe that the money should be invested in the city in which it’s raised. We should be paying for our own growth.”
Naturally, to residents of Mississauga it feels like that’s $85 million dollars being given away to other regions while Mississauga has needs. That’s money that could go into improving schools, housing, roads, and revamping public transport.
Of course, separation brings up the question of what would happen the services Hazel McCallion said were being doubled-up to account for the various regions. Well, Crombie reckons the Peel Police could remain in Mississauga, although that makes one wonder how funding and allocation of forces would work. Likewise, she says the water and sewer systems would stay the same, but with a utility board sharing the processes and formalities. That much is certain however because the water treatment plant is in Brampton, and it would be a hard sell for Mississauga natives to pay for a new plant when nothing is currently broken.
Alternatively, there has been some murmurs of combining Mississauga and Brampton into once city. This makes sense from an infrastructure perspective; all the services are already in place and the upcoming LRT will only further connect the two cities. However it seems there’s some level of hostility between the two areas, with both rather being independent that one entity. So while there is merit to the amalgamation idea, it seems far more unlikely than independence.
Unsurprisingly, Brampton’s Mayor Patrick Brown is completely against the idea of Mississauga breaking up the region. Speaking to The Globe and The Mail Brown said, “Let’s say Bonnie gets her separate nation. To me, maybe that works today. But does that work for all of Peel, for all of the GTA and for all of Ontario 50 years from now, for our children and our grandchildren? It’s not good planning and it’s not good thinking.”
Brown’s comments are rather predictable considering Mississauga is the lifeblood of Peel. Mississauga is growing rapidly and aiming to eventually be on the same level as Ottawa and Toronto, and it feels that Brampton is holding it back. However we’d be remiss not to mention taxes.
Joining forces with Brampton would cost $676 million in taxpayer money over the next decade, according to Deloitte. On the other hand, complete separation would cost over $1 billion due to the building of services. Neither of those are particularly appealing options to citizens, however the third option is the one that Crombie is proposing; a half-measure of leaving the region but retaining services with Brampton, which would actually save a few hundred million in taxes. Needless to say, everyone is on board with the third option.
The goal of the separation idea is not to cause disruption for Mississauga natives or cost them an arm and a leg. It’s to save them money in the long-run and allow Mississauga to grow unabated. In 2004 Mississauga paid $32 million to Peel, in the 15 years since, that number has ballooned to $85 million and will continue to expand. Independence is a hot-bed issue, but if Mississauga can save millions of dollars and use them to improve our city, then it’s an avenue worth pursuing.
Today, Council passed in principle my motion requesting the province pass legislation that #Mississauga become independent from the Region of Peel. Analysis shows we send $85M to the Region to fund the growth of others cities. This is not fair to residents and businesses. 1/2 pic.twitter.com/eo2SmPVEcT
— Bonnie Crombie 🇨🇦 (@BonnieCrombie) March 20, 2019
Just last month Bonnie Crombie Tweeted that the Council passed her motion requesting the province pass legislation to leave Region of Peel. It seems for the first time since the early 2000’s, the council and Region is actually taking the idea seriously. If you agree or disagree with the concept of Mississauga attaining Independence, then now is the time to have your voice heard. Attend council meetings and don’t be afraid to write and call officials. This is something that will greatly affect Mississauga for the rest of your lifetime, and all of your descendants. The last thing we want is a messy break-up like Brexit. So speak-up and voice your support or concerns, because Mississauga is heading towards a major crossroads.