Residents give Riverstone a thumbs up at public meetings

Riverstone Golf Club Exterior (City of Brampton).

The City of Brampton hosted two public meetings at the recently purchased Riverstone Golf Club, and from the reaction of the residents who attended, the future community centre is likely to be seen as a welcome addition to the portfolio of recreational facilities that have become a source of pride for the residents of the city.

The City of Brampton agreed to purchase the golf club in December, 2017, after a staff review recommended the purchase of the building and some associated land parcels, to allow its conversion to a recreation centre focused on delivering programs for seniors. The facility is located in the east end of the city, near Queen Street East and McVean Drive.

Approximately two hundred residents attended information sessions held inside the Riverstone club house where they had an opportunity to view portions of the building and see proposed layouts which were revealed to the public for the first time. City staff were on hand to answer questions and provide guided tours.

Some of the tour highlights included the saltwater pool area, the large banquet hall, a fully equipped exercise room, and a set of squash courts on the lower level.

The deal to purchase the golf club saw heavy debate at City Hall last year, with most of the information regarding the plan being kept behind closed doors to protect the privacy of the real estate negotiations. Media coverage and discussions on social media raised concerns as to whether or not the purchase represented good value for the Brampton taxpayer.

But all seemed forgiven as attendees learned about the City’s future plans for the facility, and when given a tour of the building, residents were giving the deal a thumbs up, as evidenced by conversations between residents and staff.

Ground level proposed layout.

One person answering resident’s questions was Al Meneses, the Commissioner of Community Services for the City of Brampton, the lead on the project to study the acquisition. When asked, he was ready to explain the merits of the purchase.

“It’s a 35,000 square foot facility that is going to provide amenities for the community. We spoke extensively to the residents in regards to the Parks and Recreation Master Plan, and one of the recommendations we got was that we needed an additional seniors’ centre, or seniors-focused centre on the east side.”

The building was purchased for $9 million, with the seller, a developer, also being paid an additional $2.6 million to refurbish and renovate the building to meet the City’s community centre standards, which includes reconfiguring and repurposing a number of rooms, building family change rooms, and ensuring all parts of the facility are wheelchair accessible.

Meneses says that the deal was an opportunity. “It was at the right price. The timeline was great. It was an opportunity-driven purchase where, when we looked at the alternative which was to acquire some land, building a 35,000 square foot facility, and how much it would cost and how long it would take, clearly, what came out was that it was going to cost us about twice as much to build new, and it would take about five to seven years before we actually got the doors open.”

Under the current deal, the facility will open in a year. According to Meneses, “It was a no brainer.”

The purchase also includes the handover of over 60 acres of valley lands, which the City will restore back to natural state at an additional estimated cost of $1 million. The greenspace will remain protected and provides additional recreational space for local residents as well as a continuous cycling and walking path from Brampton’s northwest end down to Lake Ontario.

Riverstone indoor saltwater pool area.

Back inside, one of the significant features of the facility is the pool area. A saltwater therapeutic pool with a continuous five foot depth is certain to become popular. Once open, it will be the only saltwater pool in the City’s property inventory.

Meneses notes that an important factor in the details of the purchase is that only half a million dollars of actual taxpayer dollars went into the purchase. “The balance of the purchase price, from a funding source perspective, was development charges and cash-in-lieu reserves. So, from a taxpayer perspective, it was half a million of tax dollars, and the rest of it came from reserves that we have that are developer-funded.”

Basement level proposed layout.

Residents who attended were asking questions and providing additional input, with one expressing gratitude for the City taking over the golf club. “I’m really happy that this building has been saved, and I know that when I come here, I will enjoy using it. We were wondering what was going to happen to it, and I think this plan is going to serve everyone very well.”

When asked about the controversy surrounding the purchase, Meneses explained the drivers involved in the recommendation to purchase the site, and the behind-the-scenes process which lead to the decision.

“From a staff perspective, we don’t get involved in the politics. We are aware of the politics, but as staff, we’re paid to provide the best advice we can to our Council, based on what’s value for money, what’s best for the taxpayers and what’s best for the long-term future of the city and the residents of the city. That’s what we base our recommendations on. Staff was asked to review the option of purchasing this facility, and here is good value for the taxpayer.”

The new recreation centre is expected to open to the public in Spring 2019, after the seller has completed the necessary renovations. While the centre is intended to serve residents of all ages, there will be an emphasis on programming to meet the needs of seniors, with programs that are similar to the Flower City Seniors Recreation Centre located at McLaughlin Road and Queen Street West, with the additional benefit of the existing aquatics and fitness facilities at Riverstone.

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Fitness and exercise room.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Walk with us during the Coldest Night of the Year in Brampton

Volunteering with our youth team in December, 2017.

In December, our Stand UP for Brampton youth team volunteered with Regeneration, a community outreach program that serves the homeless, those at risk of homelessness, and those living in extreme poverty.

Inspired by our experience, Stand UP for Brampton is participating as a team in Regeneration’s Coldest Night of the Year fundraising walk. Walk with us on February 24th to help raise money for this important community program or make a donation here.

Poverty in the suburbs has been described as “invisible” or something you just don’t talk about. But the evidence is clear- we can no longer turn a blind eye to poverty. Over the past three decades, Peel Region has seen a significant increase in low-income neighbourhoods, from only 2 per cent in 1980, to 45 per cent in 2012 and 52 per cent in 2015. According to a report from the United Way released this last October, the majority of neighbourhoods in Peel are now, for the first time ever, considered low-income.

The volunteers, staff and patrons from Regeneration are on the front lines facing the reality of rising poverty in Peel every day.

Located just north of Main and Church, Regeneration staff and volunteers gather before sunrise to prepare a warm breakfast every morning for hundreds of people seeking shelter, food or a welcoming atmosphere/community. Staff and volunteers cited an increased need for their program with the rise in homelessness due to unemployment and precarious work. Help with their breakfast program is especially necessary at Regeneration.

With a growing number of youth having nowhere to find a warm bed to sleep at night, one patron shared that there are limited places that are affordable and safe in the area.

Just this week at the Region of Peel Council meeting held on February 8, a report highlighted the lack of rental housing stock being built within Peel, leaving people without enough affordable living options.

Regeneration is part of the solution. It is one of only a few programs that provide services for those in need. As highlighted by the United Way, the demand for social services is outpacing what’s currently available in the region.

Staff and volunteers at Regeneration are doing incredible work every day to serve an increasing number of people in our community. We want to take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank Regeneration for their compassion and contribution in making our city a better place. That is why Stand UP for Brampton will be participating as a team in support of Regeneration’s Coldest Night of the Year fundraiser. We hope you will join us or consider making a donation. Together as a community, we can do more.

 

 

 

Sparks fly between Brampton councillors at Peel Region meeting

Peel Region council chambers.

Exasperated Mississauga and Caledon councillors could do nothing but watch as divisions between Brampton councillors played out at a regular meeting of the Region of Peel today.

At different points, Councillors yelled and accused each other of not following procedural rules, while others rose on points of order. The political spectacle and bickering, while common at Brampton City Hall meetings, is very rare at the Region of Peel, and underlines the divisions that exist between Brampton’s elected representatives, in stark contrast to the unity and order exemplified by representatives of both Caledon and Mississauga.

At the heart of the issue was a report from the Integrity Commissioner on a code of conduct complaint originally filed by Regional Councillor John Sprovieri against Brampton Mayor Linda Jeffrey, stemming from a decision made at a Regional Council meeting last December, to have the Mayor reimbursed for $18,475 in legal fees that she incurred for obtaining a legal opinion related to a potential conflict of interest in another matter.

In his complaint, Regional Councillor Sprovieri alleged that the Mayor violated the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act by attempting to influence the outcome of the vote by phoning two other members of Regional Council, namely, Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie, and Councillor Martin Medeiros, asking them to move and second a motion to have the legal fees reimbursed.

The decision was made in closed session, and Mayor Linda Jeffrey, as required by the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act, recused herself at the time that the matter was brought to Council for consideration.

In his decision, Robert Swayze, the Region’s Integrity Commisioner, found that he had no jurisdiction to make a ruling against the Mayor, but did say in his written opinion that she “made an innocent error in judgement”.

Not satisfied with the report, Councillor Sprovieri attempted to reopen the matter, with a request that the matter be referred to the Ontario Ombudsman, while Councillor Elaine Moore demanded that the Mayor reimburse the Region for the legal fees.

Tempers flared and several members rose on point of order to challenge whether correct procedures were being followed. The exchange was chaired by Chris Fonseca, Councillor for Mississauga Ward 3, who did her best to maintain order as well as her own composure throughout the entire exchange.

Watch the video of the exchange below.

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Sparks fly at the Region of Peel

Sparks fly at the Region of Peel today, as Brampton Councillors launch into an internal battle over legal fees incurred by Brampton Mayor Linda Jeffrey last year.

Posted by Paul Vicente – Stand UP for Brampton on Thursday, February 8, 2018

 

Mayor delivers state of the city address

Mayor Linda Jeffrey delivers her annual state of the city address.

Before a packed room of over 400 members of the Brampton Board of Trade, Mayor Linda Jeffrey delivered her State of the City address.

Touting a number of achievements made recently by the business community, Jeffrey talked about the “resiliency” of the city, its people, and its businesses.

“Resilient cities are those that can survive, adapt and thrive. Resilience is what helps us adapt and transform in the face of these challenges. Over the past three years our city has shown remarkable resilience.”

As proof of this, Jeffrey provided examples, including Brampton’s recent cooperation with Toronto Global, an organization representing municipalities in the region, to bid for Amazon’s second headquarters.

The Mayor, bucking some opinion here at home that economic development trips should not be a priority, discussed her recent visits to health-related companies in New York and New Jersey, to promote Brampton as a place to do business.

“It’s time Brampton started acting like the big city it is. Cities like Markham, Vaughan and Mississauga have planned for and attracted job creators much more effectively than we have.”

Citing unsettling discoveries made by internal inquiries made at City Hall into the city’s financial health and procurement practices, the Mayor suggested more could be done.

“Over the last year our CAO has hired some new internal auditors and they have tabled some reports I found shocking. They highlighted the fact that regular policy reviews were not taking place.”

A recent review by the Ombudsman of Ontario found no evidence of wrongdoing, but he did identify several ways Brampton could improve its practices, including a recommendation that the City should establish an independent, permanent auditor general to help re-establish confidence in the City and ensure accountably and transparently.

“Unfortunately, Council chose not to implement this advice.” Jeffrey said.

In her speech, the Mayor also addressed her relationship with other elected officials, telling of an interaction with a resident who claimed to have read some statements on social media that say she doesn’t work with Councillors.

“That’s just a false narrative. As Mayor, I have a responsibility first and foremost to you, the people who elected me.” She said, as applause within the room broke out. “I will not be a rubber stamp just to get along. I was elected to serve as Mayor with a mandate to do things differently and every now and then I may ruffle some people’s feathers when I don’t agree with them – they need to just get over it.”

Jeffrey also touched upon the highly anticipated announcement of a new university in Brampton, brought forward by way of a partnership between Ryerson University and Sheridan College.

“Our university will be a game changer.” Jeffrey said, using her popular phrase. “It will be a catalyst for significant investments and initiatives to transform creative and commercial space, to inspire a generation of residents, and provide the high skilled jobs of tomorrow.”

Acknowledging Brampton’s rapid pace of growth and the issues it has created in our hospitals, Jeffrey said that she continues to advocate for more hours at Peel Memorial Hospital, and an immediate commencement of the building of Phase 2 of that facility, as well as the need for a third hospital in the city’s west end.

Jeffrey discussed some of Brampton’s recent transit achievements, citing an article by TVO that detailed Brampton’s thriving local transit system, which has seen an increase in ridership of over 19% in the last year.

And finally, Jeffrey outlined recent moves at the Regional Police Services Board to hire 37 additional police officers to address the public’s concerns around safety in Brampton, which has seen a recent uptick in violent crimes, including gun violence and home robberies.

“When bad things happen to us as a city, I want us to be an even better and stronger city than we were before. Resilience is learning from adversity and how you bounce back. That’s what makes Brampton special.”

The Brampton Board of Trade hosts the Mayor’s annual address for leaders of the Brampton business community. In addition to Mayor Jeffrey, today’s event included keynotes by Mohamed Lachemi, President of Ryerson University and Heather Strati, Partner at Deloitte Private and the new Chair of the Brampton Board of Trade.

For more information on the Brampton Board of Trade, visit their website.

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Over 400 attendees at the State of the City luncheon.

 

 

 

 

 

Brampton arts groups look to City for partnership and support

West Side Story, a recent production by Brampton Music Theatre.

At a Brampton Committee of Council meeting this week, several arts groups presented delegations to ask the City to give support to the arts community.

Sharon Vandrish, the President of Brampton Music Theatre (BMT), appeared before the committee on Wednesday, asking the City to reconsider its plan to sell a building that is currently being used by several arts groups. The building, located on Orenda Road, has been identified by staff as surplus to the City’s needs, and the theatre group has been asked to vacate the building before June.

The theatre company leases a portion of the building at a subsidized rate, and uses the space to conduct its rehearsal operations five nights a week, as well as to build the set pieces that it needs to put on its increasingly popular stage performances.

“We are here to ask the City to partner, promote and facilitate one of the most successful, self-sufficient, non-profit arts groups in Brampton, which is in alignment with the proposed Cultural Master Plan.” Vandrish stated, referring to an expected master plan that the city’s planners are currently preparing for Council’s consideration.

Vandrish, a mainstay of the Brampton arts community, leads the theatre company which has been in operation since 1963. She says that the theatre company is financially successful, and is responsible for attracting 25 per cent of the total attendance currently seen at the Rose Theatre.

While BMT’s primary concern was for the continuation of the rehearsal space, it is also facing cutbacks to their scheduled two-week runs at the Rose Theatre. The City has cut their time allotment to one week, and this, Vandrish says, will cripple the company’s financial viability.

“Why are we playing with this successful formula? Brampton Music Theatre is a sure thing. We are guaranteed patronage, and new patrons come from all around because each cast has a different set of members.” According to numbers from the City, the Rose Theatre sees a total attendance in a year of 55,000, with BMT responsible for 14,000 patrons to the downtown venue.

The theatre company contributes over $100,000 to the City in rents paid to both the Rose Theatre, as well as to the Lester B. Pearson Theatre, where the company showcases its Youth Troupe performances, which give an opportunity for students to participate in theatre productions. The Lester B. Pearson Theatre is undergoing renovations this year, and without a plan to relocate to the Rose Theatre, the Youth Troupe performances are also facing an existential challenge.

On average, the Youth Troupe supports arts training to over one hundred kids, and in cutting back its support of BMT with potentially shorter theatre runs or higher venue fees, Vandrish believes that students will have less opportunities in the city.

In an extensive written package submitted for Council’s consideration, one parent, a city resident, writes in support of a favorable decision saying, “It saddens me to think, due to City cuts that impact the programs BMT provides, that any child (or adult) would not have the opportunities that my son has received by being involved with the award winning Brampton Music Theatre.”

In a second, spirited, delegation presented by Carmen Spada, the Artistic Director of B-Jazzed, a group responsible for the inaugural World of Jazz Festival which took place in downtown Brampton last fall, the musician called upon Council to work with arts groups equally and fairly, especially as it pertains to space requirements used by the various arts groups that are struggling to operate within the city.

B-Jazzed was a recipient of a Community Grant provided by the City in 2017, and they are currently planning for a two-day festival in 2018, with a host of associated educational programs and events that complement the festival.

“We believe that since so much of what we are doing is directly benefiting the broader community, as well as contributing to the definition of a vibrant arts and culture scene here in Brampton, that these initiatives should be supported by the City, specifically through Council approved funding and use of space.”

Spada believes that there is a disparity of support for arts groups, with some receiving support directly from Council, while others are left competing in the Community Grant stream, which awards a portion of operating costs, puts restrictions on how awarded funds may be used, and does not include any allocation for use of space.

“There are numerous groups within this city who have enjoyed many years of either annual operating funds, rent-free space, subsidized rents, or all of the above, directly delivered from Council,” said Spada to a hushed room. “These are grandfathered deals, and I can assure you that there is a contingency of organizations that are desperate to become grandfathers.”

Community arts leaders in Brampton believe that the city needs to approach them with support and responsible solutions. “Within the arts community, the need for space is nearly equal to the need for funding,” Spada summarized, “Brampton clearly has numerous surplus buildings, as well as empty buildings located here in downtown that could be made readily available for arts organizations to convert into a gallery, performance halls, arts hubs, and incubators.”

Following the delegations, some members of Council wished to have an open discussion, but according to procedural rules, debate was not permitted at the committee without a report from staff.

The City is currently putting the finishing touches on a Cultural Master Plan, with upcoming consultation sessions with the community and stakeholders scheduled to take place over the next two months. It is expected that the Cultural Master Plan will provide solutions to many of the challenges faced by arts groups, with a release of the document and a decision made by Council to be made later this year.

Below, you can find the delegations made to Council by Sharon Vandrish and Carmen Spada.

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BMT Space Concerns

THEATRE ARTS: Sharon Vandrish, the President of Brampton Music Theatre, delegated to City Council about a concerning plan by the city to sell off a building that is currently being used by numerous art groups. The highly successful theatre company says that the loss of space will adversely affect the arts community, including her group, which is a major tourist and cultural attraction within #Brampton.

Posted by Paul Vicente – Stand UP for Brampton on Wednesday, January 31, 2018

 

JAZZ Organizer on Arts Support

ARTS SUPPORT is lacking in Brampton. Carmen Spada speaks passionately about the lack of support for all arts organizations in this city.

Posted by Paul Vicente – Stand UP for Brampton on Wednesday, January 31, 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brampton considers AMO plan to increase HST to pay for infrastructure

Highway 410 approaching Queen Street.

THIS STORY HAS BEEN UPDATED FROM A PREVIOUS VERSION.

At Brampton City Council, members considered a plan put forward by the Association of Municipalities of Ontario to ask the provincial government to increase the HST by 1 per cent, up to 14 per cent, to help pay for infrastructure projects in this city and other municipalities across the province.

Called “Local Share”, the sales tax increase would help close the $4.9 billion infrastructure gap that is facing Ontario cities and towns over the next ten years. A majority of municipalities have endorsed the plan which will be put forward to the Province.

In an earlier version of this story, we reported that Brampton City Council had fully supported the plan, based on a proposed motion; However, in fact, a revised motion was presented and it was unanimously approved. In the revised motion, Council requests that the leaders of the three Provincial political parties provide their position on the Local Share initiative as proposed by AMO and/or propose alternatives for addressing the problem of financing infrastructure.

The revised motion also stated that Council supports AMO in its efforts to secure this new source of revenue to help fund critical municipal services like roads, bridges, transit, clean water and other services.

The Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) is an organization of municipalities that works to support and enhance strong and effective municipal government in Ontario. It promotes the value of the municipal level of government as a vital and essential component of Ontario and Canada’s political system.

AMO looked at over forty-four different “revenue tool” options, including property tax increases, increased land transfer taxes, vehicle registration fees, and an alcohol tax.

In a presentation made to Brampton City Council today, Matthew Wilson, a senior advisor for AMO, explained that the decision to support the increase to the HST was determined to be the best option since it spreads the cost of paying for infrastructure in cities across the broadest possible tax base, while reducing upward pressure on property tax bills.

“It is a more predictable way of financing infrastructure at the local level.” Said Wilson. “The benefit is that it distributes the load over a much broader base, and its overall impact is diminished.” Wilson pointed out that visitors to Ontario would also be paying to support local investments.

The plan is made against a backdrop of a province that is currently the most indebted non-sovereign government in the world, with a debt of $341 billion. Property taxes in Ontario are among the highest in the country, and AMO believes that a 1 per cent increase offers the most reliable and sustainable funding source to pay for infrastructure investments. Without this solution, there is a low likelihood of obtaining financial assistance from the Province, especially as elections take place every four years, and priorities for governments often change.

The dollars would be collected provincially and redistributed to all municipalities based on an allocation formula. In the first year of implementation, the expected revenue would be approximately $2.5 billion, to be distributed to 444 municipalities across Ontario, with Brampton’s share being approximately $31 million, based on the proposed formula.

For a video presentation explaining the merits of the “Local Share” funding proposal presented by Matthew Wilson, Senior Advisor, Association of Municipalities of Ontario, click here.

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Brampton asks for 1% increase to HST to pay for infrastructure

Highway 410 approaching Queen Street.

THIS STORY HAS BEEN UPDATED. Click here for the updated version.

Auto Insurance Rates Continue to Rise

According to the Financial Services Commission of Ontario, a regulator appointed by the Province to regulate the auto insurance sector, insurance rates in the province have surged by 1% in the last quarter of 2017.

Seventeen insurers representing approximately 40% of the market based on premium volume had rates that increased on average by 1.03% when applied across the total market.

In Brampton, residents have long complained about paying the highest rates in Ontario. A recent study released by Kanetix.ca confirmed Brampton is tops in the province with the highest insurance rates at $2,268. Caledon has one of the lowest rates in the GTA at $1,164, even though they experience higher collision rates.

This situation continues to affect Brampton residents despite promises by Provincial legislators to lower rates.

The news, released by the FSCO via their website, suggests that individual policyholders may experience a rate change that is either higher or lower than the industry-wide average rate change, or the average rate change for a particular insurer, depending on several factors, such as:

  • the vehicle insured
  • place of residence
  • driving experience
  • at-fault accident and conviction history of drivers
  • whether the vehicle is used for pleasure or commuting, and
  • choices made by the policyholder on coverage purchased and deductible or liability limits.

The Financial Services Commission of Ontario suggests that consumers should shop around for auto insurance, reminding everyone that Ontario has a competitive marketplace. Rates for the same coverage vary based on each insurer’s claims experience and the insurer’s rating system.

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Sounding the Alarm for Brampton Arts

The future of arts in Brampton is in question.

Charles Scott, a Brampton resident, filmmaker and patron of the arts, is sounding the alarm on behalf of the entire arts community in Brampton, saying that Brampton City Council is woefully underfunding the arts and risking the financial success of the businesses and quality of life of residents who call the city home.

Charles Scott, MA
Charles Scott, MA

A recently approved budget by the City of Brampton offers little funding for the arts, and Scott blames Council for failing in their responsibility to the community.

“We don’t have a way for our emerging artists to gather,” says Scott. “Our artist-run centre, Beaux-Arts, has no core funding from our city; Even a town like North Bay, from where I am from, has a municipal art gallery and three artist-run centres funded by the municipality.”

Arts funding in other cities has shown measurable economic benefits, often helping to revitalize urban areas, all while enhancing the cultural experience and improving citizens’ quality of life. With politicians always needing to balance budget constraints and pressure from residents who decry tax increases, Scott believes that the city needs to look at the big picture.

“In Ontario, $28.5 billion of GDP is created by arts and culture. Over 300,000 jobs. Far more than from things like sports, yet Brampton is whole hog into sports, building giant arenas and soccer centres.”

Pointing out the recent $1.5 million given to the privately-owned Brampton Beast hockey team, Scott says that the city needs to balance its support for the community more effectively to ensure we get value for taxpayer dollars. “We’re paying $13,000 per home game, and there’s some kind of mystery marketing that we are getting out of it, and, as a citizen I don’t see it.” There is no marketing metric to measure the benefits of the Brampton Beast deal, and there has been no observable value shown to date.

Over the past three years, the City of Hamilton has invested an additional $1.5 million into their arts community on top of previous funding, and the effects have been profound, with areas previously plagued by problems like vagrancy and issues related to drug and alcohol abuse, seeing increased use and new life.

“Hamilton has changed completely,” says Scott. “The downtown of Hamilton is vibrant.” Scott points out that art galleries there are busy and the effects spill over into the rest of the city. “They get more people through the door on a Friday evening than probably come to an art gallery in Brampton in a year.” Over the next few years, Hamilton plans to invest an additional $500,000 every year towards arts and culture.

Scott believes the city is losing out to other municipalities. “In Brampton right now, we have people creating music. We have young artists working, and what happens is they all end up going to Toronto or to Mississauga,” says Scott. “We need to create an arts community here in Brampton, and that comes with some core funding.”

The fundamental question for policy makers becomes whether there is a real benefit to funding the arts community in Brampton, and a recent rash of restaurant closures in downtown Brampton may indicate that something is missing.

“Why are restaurants in a town of 600,000 people, quality restaurants, going out of business?” asks Scott. “They are going out of business because something is not attracting them to the downtown, and that could be the arts.”

With both a provincial and a municipal election scheduled for this year, Scott wants residents to consider their choices carefully, especially as candidates ask for their vote. “I don’t think that anyone should vote for a politician that doesn’t put arts and culture into their platform in this day and age, in the economy that we have, in Ontario.”

“We cannot be a global city without arts and culture, and right now, Brampton has almost no arts and culture,” warns Scott. “The groups that are working in Brampton are struggling, and the philosophy of funding is wrong. We need to change that philosophy.”

See the full interview with Charles Scott below via Brampton Focus, with host Michael A. Charbon.

Hurontario LRT Revealed

An image posted to the Hurontario LRT Twitter page has provided an updated look at the light rail vehicle (LRV) that will be used on the Hurontario LRT that will begin service sometime in 2022.

Metrolinx has chosen the Alstom Citadis Spirit light rail vehicles configured to carry 120 seated and 216 standing passengers, with a length of up to 157 feet, with a white and silver colour theme for the exterior.

Alstom is a French multinational company that provides rail transport vehicles, signaling systems and infrastructure. They manufacture high speed rail vehicles for the TGV, France’s intercity high-speed rail service, in addition to suburban, regional and metro trains and trams in systems around the world.

The Alstom Citadis Spirit LRV.
Alstom Citadis Spirit LRV.

Currently, Alstom is the supplier of light rail vehicles for Ottawa’s Confederation Line, a light rail system built by that city at a cost of just over $2.1 billion, with a second phase planned that will push the final bill up to $5.1 billion. The costs for the project are being funded in part by the federal government and the province, while the City of Ottawa is funding a third, or $1.7 billion.

In 2015, the City of Brampton considered a proposed plan to build the Hurontario-Main LRT from the Port Credit GO Train Station in Mississauga to the GO Train Station in Downtown Brampton. The plan was scheduled to cost a total of $1.6 billion, and the Province of Ontario had committed to paying the full amount.

Following a marathon public meeting at the Rose Theatre where a majority of residents who delegated at the meeting spoke in favor of the project, Councillors voted against the plan, and instead chose to stop the train at Shoppers World.

The headline on the Brampton Guardian newspaper, as it appeared on October 29, 2015.
October 29, 2015.

The decision resulted in the city looking at alternative unfunded routes, including an Etobicoke Creek route that was barred from moving forward after the Toronto Region and Conservation Authority voted down the idea, calling the plan “nuts”. The remaining route options lie along Kennedy Road and McLaughlin Road.

Despite the fact that the other routes have already been studied and dismissed by experts, Council voted to spend another $4.4 million to initiate new studies that will require at least four years to complete.

There is no plan currently in place to fund the route that is eventually selected. Metrolinx has pulled its funding commitment to the City of Brampton and has allocated those monies to other projects across Ontario.

In the meantime, the City of Mississauga is forging ahead with its light rail transit system, and, from the look of the images they are sharing, Mississaugans will soon be enjoying a fast, efficient and fully paid transit line along their main corridor.

In earlier concept images, Metrolinx had showcased an LRV model built by Bombardier’s rail division located in Thunder Bay, Ontario. However, Bombaridier has experienced challenges with delivery times for other projects like the Crosstown LRT which is being built in Toronto.

Hurontario LRT stop in Mississauga, adjacent to Square One, and the iconic "Marilyn Monroe" towers in the skyline.
Hurontario LRT stop in Mississauga.

Anne Marie Aikens, a spokesperson for Metrolinx says the switch to Alstom was made to ensure success of the project. “We contracted with Alstom to provide vehicles for our other LRT projects, like Hurontario, so that we will have that certainty.”

The Alstom trains feature a low-floor design that offers easy accessibility from the street or the curb, as well as an interior layout without steps or ramps to provide a safe and enjoyable experience for riders.

The Hurontario LRT project is scheduled to begin construction next year, with completion in 2022.

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Alstom livery configurations offereing different passenger capacities.
Alstom livery configurations.

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