As a year of uncertainty and change ends, Peel stands on the edge of remolding its regional representation, setting the stage for the coming year. Representatives at Peel Regional Council approved a by-law last week at their regular meeting that would see Brampton pick up two more seats on regional council, while Caledon would see its regional representation reduced by two seats.
The new regional structure, which was approved by a vote of 19-1 at the Dec. 17 Regional Council meeting, was further ratified by Mississauga council Wednesday during their last regular meeting of the year. The new structure is only awaiting ratification by Brampton council, which would give it the majority of votes needed across all three councils to pass fully.
The approved representation, which would see Brampton’s seats sit at nine, Mississauga’s at 12 and Caledon’s at three seats, come into effect beginning the 2022-26 council term. “This is a step in the right direction to achieve a more balanced approach based on population,” Mayor Bonnie Crombie said after the vote was ratified Wednesday, referring to past attempts to rebalance regional representation.
“We have reviewed many scenarios and reallocating seats was the only way to achieve greater fairness.” Caledon currently has a population of approximately 66,000, versus just over 600,000 in Brampton and 828,000 in Mississauga. At Regional Council, Caledon represents 15,660 residents for each regional seat, compared to 65,742 residents per regional seat in Mississauga, and 97,371 residents per regional seat in Brampton.
The motion to rebalance the region’s representation was brought forward as a walk-on motion at the end of the Nov. 26 Regional Council meeting by Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown, and further amended by Mississauga Councillor Carolyn Parrish regarding its proposed wording. The walk-on motion caused a stir from several councillors, with some indicating that there was no public notice made before the motion was introduced, while others said the rebalancing was inevitable.
The introduction of the motion prompted public consultation, with members of Caledon and the surrounding municipalities making their views known on the motion, with several indicating that the decision didn’t factor in the Town’s future growth over the coming years. “With the growth that is expected in Caledon over the next 20 years, Caledon, and in particular, Bolton will need an increase in councillors at the Region, not fewer.
How does a drop in number of councillors for Caledon as proposed, help Caledon?” said local resident Joe Grogan, who submitted written comments to the consultation and criticized the Region for making the decision during a pandemic that has made in-person comments difficult. “The majority of Caledon residents are not even aware of this matter.
Where does the fault for that lie?” Caledon Mayor Allan Thompson told Peel Weekly News earlier this month made similar comments, indicating that creating a motion to rebalance the region in the middle of a protest was “outrageous.” “All governments, whether they are the municipalities that make up Peel Region, or the Government of Ontario, should recognize the need to make sure people have legitimate opportunities to voice concerns,” said Thompson, indicating that the move would cut the Town’s democratic representation “by 40 per cent at a time like this.”
“We don’t want Caledon to go down to one seat. That would be unfair, but based on representation by population, that’s what it would be,” Mayor Patrick Brown said at the Nov. 26 meeting. Thompson says that he and the Town agree that Brampton should be better represented, “but absolutely not at Caledon’s expense and not in haste… our constituents deserve better than to be sideswiped by this resolution. That’s why we have asked the province to put this on hold until our community can have a proper discussion that is not clouded by a global pandemic.”