Peel councillors weigh in on COVID19, future direction for local projects

Photo and Story BY E.A. KERR

Councillors talk adapt at In Sep. 2020, the Town opened a brand-new community centre, Southfields, but to date has been unable to use it at any reasonable capacity. Once the lockdown is over, the centre will provide such facilities as a brand-new pool area, as well as a Montessori school, space for Punjabi Community Health Services and a new state of the art Caledon Public

Library branch. Over the winter, Early has been encouraged by residents supporting many of the community’s skating rinks. “They are out there each morning getting the ice ready for visitors throughout the day,” she said.

“The Town has gone out of its way to foster the building of these rinks because the residents clearly needed a place to have some recreation.” Other happenings in Ward 2 included various events over the Christmas season, at sites such as Terra Cotta and Cheltenham, which had holiday functions while still maintaining COVID-19 protocols. Such events raised food and funds for local food banks and showed that community spirit was alive and well. Early also complemented the Caledon library system for “picking up the pace” during the pandemic.

“As a board member, I was thrilled with the way they were able to pivot into virtual events, getting digital books out to customers and the sheer amount of Zoom type events they were about to pull off. This pandemic has indeed shown that we can all step up and offer even a better service during very trying times.” Another issue of concern is that distracted and reckless driving has continued, even as residents take steps to protect themselves and their families by staying in, prompting Peel Police to step up traffic safety campaigns to curb emboldened drivers speeding in community areas. “This was a real sore spot with residents,” said Early.

“It seems drivers just took off their normal “Caring Caps” and stopped driving with care. Speeding, running lights and signs were the main complaints… hopefully this is something that will return to normal after the lockdown is over.” Brampton’s representative for Wards 3&4, Jeff Bowman, deals with a completely different set of challenges.

Ward 3 and 4’s population exceeds all of Caledon and brings with it a different set of problems. In dealing with the pandemic, Bowman began his duties as a member of the Brampton Emergency Measures office (BMO), which was initiated in Jan. 2020. Now ,13 months later, it has gone from bad to worse, and last summer brought new problems to Brampton, such as homeless encampments.

 The city, along with the Region, had to form a plan to handle it, and with a major blitz, they were able to place almost all residents in shelters before winter set in. With that came a shortage of food at the various food banks, prompting additional support from both the city and private sector fundraising. Speaking to Asia Metro Wednesday, Bowman thanked the groups of people who stepped up to help.

The late summer and early fall saw Brampton leading Peel with COVID-19 cases in several key districts. “At first, it was tough to speculate why,” said Bowman. “The reasons were attributed to the type of businesses and jobs Brampton had… the city was hard hit with COVID-19 and held top infection numbers in Ontario, and we were pointed to as doing something wrong, but that was just not the case,” said Bowman, pointing to the circumstances and the sheer number of affected people in the area.

The bright spots from the community have involved the way people want to help other people, said Bowman, with fundraising and food being made and delivered to needy residents, along with community ice rinks that have managed demand so that adults and kids have somewhere to get out of the house. Mississauga’s Ward 1 is a community on the rise, with a completely different environment. With a high density of residents and some of the most concentrated development and building in the city, the Port Credit/Lakeview area has dominated media headlines and cast a light on the south end of Mississauga on Lake Ontario.

Ward 1 councillor Stephen Dasko said that during the pandemic, Ward 1 has been affected just as much as any other area of the city. “Local businesses have been hurt hard and many have been forced to close,” said Dasko, citing higher unemployment and layoffs and difficulties by residents to pay their bills. Two large projects have taken up a lot of the conversation — the 75-acre Brightwater project, located on the former Texaco Oil Lands at Mississauga and Lakeshore Road, is well underway. It will have a mixed-use neighbourhood with several high-rise condo towers, businesses, an educational campus and mid-size retail space.

On the other side of the district, the Lakeview Village project aims to define the community upon completion, fulfilling a vision left by late Ward 1 councillor Jim Tovey. While progress was slow a decade ago, the project is now well on its way, with Dasko hitting the ground running when he took over in 2018 as the Ward 1 councillor. Look for the next installment of this special feature series in next week’s edition of Asia Metro.

Nearly a year after the first COVID-19 lockdown was initiated in Ontario, the pandemic has brought challenges — and unique opportunities — to the various wards that make up Peel Region. As Peel readies for a presumed partial reopening on Feb. 30, Asia Metro will feature a series of feature stories focusing on each Ward in Brampton, Caledon and Mississauga, and how life has changed since the onset of the pandemic. The first thing to be mentioned is the vast difference in size each municipality is. Caledon has the largest land mass in Peel, and its size equals both Brampton and Mississauga combined, alongside a population that is approaching 80,000, which has prompted dramatic discussions over its growth potential and regional representation.

Brampton, with over 600,000 residents, is the ninth largest city in Canada, while Mississauga ranks at the sixth spot. Each municipality has dealt with unique and varied challenges as they have navigated the pandemic this past year, including challenges maintaining essential services, dealing with resident concerns and supporting non-profits through the difficult winter months. Christina Early represents Ward 2 in Caledon — one of five wards in the area. Early represents the southwest part of Caledon, bordering onto Brampton, and her family has roots in the Town dating back to the early 1900s. Elected in 2018 to her first term, Early has spent the past year working to ensure that residents get the support and services they need during the pandemic, while also dealing with pressing concerns like speeding motorists. “None of us are soon to forget the world pandemic… while our lives stopped, the work of Council and the municipality just kept on going,” said Early.

About the author

Asia Metro Editor

Surjit Singh Flora
editor@asiametro.ca

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