It could be the messiest divorce Ontario has seen in a long time.
Last week officials announced that Peel Region, comprised of Brampton, Mississauga, and Caledon, would be dissolving. We caught up with Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie, who spoke on everything from her position on the recently announced divorce of Peel Region, to her considerations on running for leader of the Ontario Liberal Party on this episode of The Brandon Gonez Show.
“The premier has done the right thing and I’m very grateful for him to do so,” Crombie said, adding that former Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion disagreed with the creation of Peel Region.
“Former Premier Bill Davis created Peel Region because Mississauga was entering our growth phase and it was designed to help fund the growth and development of Brampton and Caledon,” Crombie said.
The Mississauga mayor went on to explain that her predecessor started a campaign to leave the region 20 years ago.
“Because she, like I, felt that our property tax dollars should be reinvested in our city for our priorities, and our programs, and our services,” Crombie explained.
Saying that while it’s taken 20 years, Crombie is delighted to have fulfilled McCallion’s legacy. The current mayor explained that Mississauga leaving Peel was something that she campaigned on through three elections.
“In October 2022, I actually, my platform was strongly on Mexit, which is Mississauga’s exit of the Region of Peel, and I was able to convince the premier that it was the right thing to do at the right time. And I’m very grateful for that decision because it was the right one.”
Peel Divorce: Bonnie Crombie on Advantages for Mississauga
When asked about the pros and cons involved with the divorce of Peel Region, Crombie shares that there are many advantages for residents of Mississauga.
“There are a lot of advantages for the residents of Mississauga. In fact, we will gain a billion dollars over the next decade. So when you think about it, having [a] two-tier government is very cumbersome,” Crombie said.
She explained that a two-tier government requires a second level of approvals that need to be met for projects in Mississauga.
“So once we pass our decisions here on planning applications, [and] development applications, we have to then go to the Region of Peel to have them blessed by two other municipalities that may not be in favor of our priorities and our decisions.”
Crombie explained that there is also a lot of red tape and bureaucracy, as well as additional costs to run two levels of government.
“There’s two planning departments, two legal departments, a whole bunch of admin staff, etc. So you can imagine the costs that can be saved without a second layer of government, as well as the time that can be saved, to get approvals, on your development applications and everything else we do,” Crombie said.
“We become the masters of our own house and able to control our own destiny.”
But what does this new freedom from the region mean for taxpayers?
“So what I know is there may be, there could be, there always are some transition costs. But over the long run, we save money, because we’re not funding two levels of government. And we will stop transferring funding to the City of Brampton for their regional roads, for planning, and for Peel policing.”
Taking a look at infrastructure like policing, Crombie says that Peel police is not paid for on a call-by-call basis, it’s assessment based.
“So what happens is they look at revenue and because we have a higher population, but more so because we have more businesses, we generate more revenue here. So our assessment base, our pool of revenue is much higher in Mississauga,” Crombie said, adding this means her city pays more for Peel policing in Brampton.
“What I’m asking for is that policing and paramedics, quite frankly, remain intact, current structure, only that the funding model change.”
But Crombie says she believes things like water and wastewater should be utility-based like electric service.
Peel Divorce: Crombie says Mississauga Shouldn’t Pay Brampton
While Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown told The Brandon Gonez Show he would like to see Mississauga run Brampton a check, Crombie says that’s not going to happen.
“Mississauga has funded 70 per cent of the costs at the Region to Peel for 40 years, Brampton 25 per cent of the cost. So he’d like 25 cents on his dollar back I suppose. Meanwhile, we’ve been providing him services for 50 years.”
Crombie explained that as Brampton has been growing, things have changed. The mayor says that Mississauga is now paying 60 cents on the dollar, compared to 35 cents provided by Brampton. Crombie says Caledon is responsible for the remaining five cents.
Crombie believes that Mississauga should not be on the hook to provide any additional money to Brampton, as she claims her city has been paying the larger chunk of the funding for the region, which has created infrastructure like the wastewater plant and garbage facilities.
“It’s time that Mayor Brown realized that Mississauga has paid for the growth, and funded all the infrastructure in Brampton, you’re welcome. And the umbilical cord must be cut, and we must move our separate ways.”
Crombie says it’s time the municipalities dedicate their emphasis, focus, and tax dollars to themselves, rather than the growth of another municipality, adding that a transition board will evaluate the situation, and the receipts will speak for themselves.
“It will be quite obvious, who owns what, what assets are owned by the Region of Peel that can be separated easily, and how that will happen,” Crombie said, reiterating that she believes the best way to move forward is to move shared utilities to a model that would see payment based on use.
“I know Mayor Brown likes to lean into the Deloitte Report, however, the Deloitte Report was written to justify the existence of the Region of Peel. So of course, the premises don’t allow for a disillusion,” Crombie continued.
“They’re justifying the existence and maintaining the status quo going forward. Now, all three municipalities agreed that because of the premise that was made, it wasn’t a valid report for our purposes.”
Crombie says that a third party was brought in to evaluate the situation before they arrived at the conclusion that dissolving the region was the best plan. She explained that there were also considerations made about keeping the region the way it is now or turning the three municipalities into a supercity.
“That’s where it was obvious that Mississaugans are much further ahead. You know, and I will say that there was some notion that there could be some transition payments to ease the transition for Brampton,” Crombie said.
“However, I’ll share with you that my councillors don’t support that because for the past five years, we have responsibly raised our property taxes to fund all of our costs, which include, you know, our budgets, our programs and services, knowing full well, we also had to include an 84 million transfer payment to Brampton each year.”
“They froze their taxes. So you can imagine that doesn’t sit well, with my councilors, when we know that, you know, they can do that, because they have a little buffer and comfort zone from a transfer payment from the city of Mississauga each year,” Crombie continued, adding that she’s sure people in Mississauga also would have loved to have a tax freeze for the past five years.
Crombie also said that this does not have to be a messy split-up!
“It doesn’t have to, we just leave it in the hands of the experts to open the box and go through the numbers, look at the assets and do a happy division,” Crombie said.
“You just divide up the assets, divide up the liabilities and move on.”
Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie discussed the timing of the announcement, her relationship with premier Doug Ford, her potential bid for Ontario Liberal leadership, and more on this episode of The Brandon Gonez Show.