On May 18th, the Province of Ontario declared their intention to dissolve Peel Region, thereby establishing Mississauga, Brampton, and Caledon as separate entities without the presence of a regional council or two-tier leadership structure.
The Ford government’s decision marks a complete reversal from their previous stance during their first term. They had actively opposed decentralized services and had even suggested that Peel may be amalgamated or left as is, with a focus on developing “mega-cities”.
What implications does this have for the regional services that you rely on? What will be the impact of municipal taxes? How will the province divide the regional services that have been utilized for 50 years? What will be the cost?
We are all equally unsure. The following is what is known:
A “transition team” comprising of a maximum of five members will be appointed by the Province to commence the separation of regional assets by January 1, 2025. This turnaround period of eighteen months is now confirmed and has put the future of numerous regional employees in uncertainty.
A war of words has been initiated between Mississauga and Brampton regarding “who owes whom”. The argument revolves around which municipality has paid for more of the other city’s historical development. Reports from both sides present differing viewpoints, leaving uncertainty around the cost of the separation process for each city. Additionally, it remains to be seen whether Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown’s assertion that Mississauga owes Brampton hundreds of millions in infrastructure fees will hold up in a legal proceeding.
There has been no information provided regarding the potential impact on property taxes, the continuation of shared regional services, the effects on Caledon, and the necessary actions for the affected regional buildings and facilities such as courts, Peel Regional Police Headquarters, and both Region of Peel offices.
It is not clear what precisely prompted the cabinet of Ford to make this decision. Could it be the realization of former Mayor Hazel McCallion’s last wish to see her dream of regional separation come true? Did someone strike a sweetheart deal with a politician to dissuade them from running for a provincial party? Perhaps it was high time for all three municipalities to pursue their own paths, even if it entails enduring a significant financial setback in the near future.
According to a report from 2019, which examined the possibility of dissolving the region, the funding of currently shared services, specifically Peel police, would determine whether taxpayers in Mississauga could potentially save up to $84 million or experience a cost increase of $28 million annually.
According to the report authored by Ernst and Young, there exists a possibility for Brampton taxpayers to experience either a rise of $45 million or a reduction of up to $33 million in their expenses. The potential separation of Caledon may result in a rise in taxpayer expenditures of up to $23 million.
There are no easy answers in this situation. The Province plans to have recommendations for the separation put forward by fall of next year. Patrick Brown has suggested that the City of Brampton will take Mississauga to court if it doesn’t get its fair share of infrastructure money. And Caledon, left standing by the sidewalk like a lost child, will have to figure out a way to make its own way as it seeks to set up numerous greenfield developments over the coming decade.
As the sun sets on Peel Region, it remains to be seen what deal its municipalities walk away with.
(With Files from Alex Gregory)