Peel Memorial to Become a Full Hospital

Ford at Peel Memorial
Premier Doug Ford announces Phase II of Peel Memorial.

Ontario’s provincial government has announced it will proceed with the second phase of Peel Memorial which will transition the health and wellness centre into a 250 bed full-service hospital with a 24 hour emergency department.

Following years of advocacy efforts by Brampton City Council and Mayor Patrick Brown, the Province says it will move ahead with plans to complete the facility which has been operating only during business hours as an urgent care centre and offering supporting health services including day surgery, seniors rehabilitation and dialysis care.

The Province has plans to set aside $30 billion over the next 10 years to support hospital infrastructure across the province, which includes funding the new construction at Peel Memorial in downtown Brampton, which is expected to begin in 2023.

Two Councillors who represent the downtown area, Regional Councillors Rowena Santos and Paul Vicente, welcomed the news in a joint statement. “Our City has suffered through decades of neglect at the provincial level, especially when it comes to healthcare services. This term of Council has aggressively advocated for Brampton’s priorities like never before, resulting in some wins in this provincial budget.”

Regional Councillors Paul Vicente and Rowena Santos.
Regional Councillors Paul Vicente and Rowena Santos standing before Peel Memorial Centre for Health and Wellness.

The announcement follows a tumultuous year for Brampton which has been dealing with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently served by only one full-service hospital with just over 600 inpatient beds, Brampton has half the number of beds when compared to the provincial average of 2.2 beds per 1000 population, an issue which has made the pandemic all the more challenging.

In January of 2020, Brampton City Council declared a healthcare emergency and called for more funding and the expansion of hospital care for the residents of the city. Councillors and Mayor Patrick Brown launched an advocacy campaign entitled Fair Deal For Brampton.

The campaign included a petition and active advocacy work by holding regular one-on-one meetings between Councillors, the Mayor and Provincial Members of Parliament and Ministers, including Christine Elliott, the Province’s Minister of Health. In each of those meetings the City demanded the completion of Phase II of Peel Memorial Hospital and urgent action for a third healthcare facility in Brampton as well as additional funding to expand services in the existing facilities.

Brampton’s Mayor Patrick Brown praised the news. “Funding from our Provincial partners is critical to Brampton’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and we are thankful for today’s announcement of a second hospital in Brampton through Phase II of Peel Memorial,” he said, via a press release. “The COVID-19 pandemic has intensified Brampton’s critical need for timely and equitable healthcare funding.”

Phase II of Peel Memorial Hospital will bring 250 inpatient beds and will transition the urgent care centre into a full emergency department with 24-hour operations.

Santos and Vicente say more work to advocate for healthcare in Brampton is needed. “We are absolutely grateful that this provincial budget brings many wins for Brampton, but healthcare services to support our growing population continues to lag behind the provincial average. We are only starting to catch up.”

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Your 2021 Property Tax Rate Has Been Set

The Region of Peel's office complex located in Brampton.

Regional Councillors have approved Peel’s 2021 Budget which sets regional property tax rates for Brampton, Mississauga and Caledon.

Last December, Brampton approved its third consecutive zero percent increase in property taxes for residents on the City’s portion of the tax bill, part of a $1.2 billion budget which includes record contributions to cash reserves.

“With financial responsibility top of mind, we will deliver Brampton’s third consecutive tax freeze to support our community through the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” said Brampton’s Mayor Patrick Brown. “The 2021 Budget also maintains a record contribution to reserves to keep up the investment momentum in priorities that shape our future, such as transportation, sustainability, economic growth, and healthy living.”

Brampton Property tax rates are a blend of three portions from the City of Brampton, the Region of Peel, and an Education levy. These are combined into one tax bill which residents and businesses pay.

Members of Regional Council began budget deliberations at the regional table with a budget proposed by staff that called for an average increase of 3.2 per cent, an estimated value of $79 for a typical residential property.

Regional staff accounted for the proposed increase as a result of ongoing changes to provincial funding and legislation, as well as the emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic which added significant financial pressure on health and social services delivered by the Region of Peel.

Council priorities to address housing, homelessness and community safety in addition to infrastructure costs to support growth had Members of Council nickel-and-diming with staff in order to squeeze the budget as much as possible.

“Our job as Councillors is to review the budget and look at the taxes and find any way that we can to remove the burden on our tax payers,” explained Mississauga Regional Councillor Saito, prior to a vote on a motion to defer a one per cent infrastructure levy.

Staff warned that a pay-later approach on the infrastructure levy would result in a delay of important projects. “All of the plans are critical to meet Council’s long-term strategic outcome,” stated Norman Lum, Peel Region’s Chief Financial Officer. The motion was defeated on a tie vote.

In a compromise move, regional staff suggested that a material recovery facility of $50.6 million be scrapped from the budget. Recent legislative changes to extended producer responsibility meant that it was likely not going to be required. The proposed change would decrease the infrastructure levy by 0.4 per cent, thereby reducing the overall impact on the property tax rate.

On February 11, 2021 the regional budget was unanimously passed to include an annual property tax increase of 1.02 per cent or approximately $50 for a residential property.

“The 2021 Budget maintains and improves services, invests in people and prepares the Region for the future,” said Nando Iannicca, Chair of the Region of Peel. “This year, we’ve passed a budget that invests responsibly in core service levels, promotes community well-being, and protects the vulnerable, while striving for efficiency to mitigate the increase to property tax bills.

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Patrick Brown Delivers State of the City Address

Mayor Patrick Brown delivering his State of the City Address.

In his 2021 State of the City Address, City of Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown spoke about the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic in bringing the city together to overcome the challenges of the past year.

The address was delivered during an online virtual event with Members of Council, City Staff, and Brampton’s business community in attendance, including representatives from Dynacare, CN Rail, Rogers Communications, TD Bank, Amazon, and Sheridan College.

In his remarks, Mayor Brown spoke of the role of the community coming together to help Brampton get through the COVID-19 pandemic, in particular the William Osler Health System.

“They are our healthcare heroes.” Brown declared. “Osler has led the province in COVID testing and has treated hundreds of patients. As you know, Brampton’s health care system has been overcrowded and underfunded for too long and the hallway medicine crisis has been compounded by the pandemic.”

In his remarks, Brown also referenced the financial challenges experienced by the City of Brampton, citing the need to eliminate the collection of transit fares to ensure the safety of the bus operators, and property tax deferrals which allowed residents to manage their household expenses, all of which strained the City’s finances.

“Initially, the pandemic was like getting body checked from a financial perspective,” he said, adding that as fares were re-introduced along with stringent safety measures, the outlook improved considerably. “By the end of the year we were on a pretty solid footing.”

Council worked to advocate for the Federal and Provincial governments to provide assistance to municipalities which are not allowed to run deficits. The resulting Safe Restart Agreement provided a life injection to affected cities like Brampton. “As we close the books on 2020 we didn’t have any noticeable financial losses; we almost broke even.” said Brown.

The Mayor spoke about the need for Brampton to accelerate important infrastructure projects as a way of stimulating the local economy.

“The good news is that there has been a lot of talk about economic recovery and stimulus projects and I think there are going to be some opportunities for projects in Brampton to get potential funding,” Brown said. Noting large strategic priorities like the Riverwalk project, bus rapid transit plans for Queen Street, as well as light rail transit extension along Main Street and other transit initiatives, Mayor Brown is confident the city is positioned to benefit from future infrastructure spending.

When asked about his top three priorities going forward, the Mayor responded, “Jobs, jobs, jobs.” Brown referenced a number of projects led by the City of Brampton to build an innovation economy, citing the Innovation District in Downtown Brampton which includes the new Rogers Cybersecurity school, Brampton U and the effort to bring a full university to Brampton, and B-Hive which is planned as an innovation hub for supporting start-ups.

“Everything relates back to creating employment, and the more employment you create in the community, it gives you the ability to invest in the programs that you cherish—the environmental programs, the recreation; Having a healthy tax base, having companies that are investing, hiring and growing.”

Citing former Premier Bill Davis, Brown referenced the Premier’s belief that investing in education that allows people to be ready for the jobs that will be in future demand was key to the City of Brampton’s economic development plans.

“We’ve really put a lens to that,” said Brown. “Brampton is really doubling down on technology and innovation and jobs of the future and we are doing everything that we can to incubate their success in our city.”

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Region of Peel to initiate study on governance options

The Region of Peel's office complex located in Brampton.

Should they break up the Region of Peel? Amalgamate Brampton, Mississauga and Caledon into one super city? Keep things as they are today?

After nearly two hours of discussion at the Region of Peel, Councillors voted this week to approve a $600,000 study to determine the costs of three potential governance scenarios being considered by the Province.

Earlier this year, the Ford government announced it was reviewing the governance, decision-making and service delivery functions of eight regional municipalities including Halton, Niagara and Peel Region. Two special advisors, Ken Seiling and Michael Fenn, knowledgeable experts in municipal governance matters, have been selected to perform the review.

Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown hosted a tele-town hall earlier in the week to discuss the issue and the 5,000 residents participating in the live event favored keeping Brampton and the Region of Peel intact, with 66% of poll respondents selecting the status quo option.

The debate at today’s regular meeting of Peel Regional Council followed a presentation by Deloitte LLP which authored a report in March detailing the financial impact of the different governance and service models.

The Deloitte report found that maintaining the Region and the municipalities as they are today was the least expensive option and could generate a tax savings of $261 million if efficiencies identified in the report are realized. The report highlights there are no overlaps in service delivery in the current two-tier system; for example, local municipalities maintain local roads while the Region of Peel repairs regional roads.

The report further predicts that amalgamating the cities would cost taxpayers across the region an additional $676 million in tax levies compared to the status quo option, paid over the next 10 years. If the Province decides to separate the municipalities, the report warns that the increased cost would approach $1.1 billion.

Mississauga councillors, who favour separation, disagreed with the cost estimates claiming that they were based on assumptions and incomplete information, while Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown pointed to Deloitte’s 174-year history in accounting and professional services as an indication that the “numbers don’t lie”.

When asked by Brown if there was any possibility that the numbers in the report might me wrong, Matt Colley, a partner at Deloitte’s Audit & Assurance team responded flatly;

“No.”

In the end, Councillors voted unanimously to retain the professional services of auditors at Ernst & Young LLP to do a thorough analysis. The plan calls for the CAOs of the three municipalities and the Region of Peel to work together by sharing data to ensure the results are accurate and complete.

The City of Brampton will be hosting a Regional Government Consultation Town Hall on Saturday, May 4, 2019, from 3 PM until 5 PM in the Council Chambers. You can also fill out the Province’s survey on the regional governance issue by clicking here.

The Province will be closing the review on May 21, 2019 and a decision is expected before the fall.

You can find the full Financial Impact Analysis report by Deloitte LLP mentioned in this article by clicking here.

Thinking BIG about Brampton

Matthew Humphreys stands in front of his model of Downtown Brampton.

Sometimes, if you want to develop a big idea, you need to look at things differently. With that in mind, a Brampton resident built an incredible miniature view of Downtown Brampton to get everyone thinking about the future possibilities for the area.

Spending over four hundred hours fashioning cardboard, glue, metal and other materials, Matthew Humphreys built a masterpiece replica of the area north of the Four Corners, capturing every detail with exquisite accuracy.

Inspired by the recent news that the City of Brampton is looking to sell the Heritage Theatre block for redevelopment, Humphreys applied his skills to create a conversation piece that he hopes can be displayed to residents and get them talking.

The view from the CN Rail overpass.

Humphreys, currently a student of civil engineering at the University of Waterloo, sees his role in society as pivotal. “I chose this field because I want to shape my community for the better,” he says. “Every bridge you construct, every roadway you finish, every apartment complex you build, you are impacting scores of lives hopefully for the better.”

That mindset transfers over to what he is trying to achieve with this initiative. “I want to shape my community for the better,” he says, “to build a better Brampton.”

NervcastIt’s not just about bricks and mortar for Humphreys. As a musician, he plays the drums in a local rock band called Nervcast, and he sees the downtown area as the city’s cultural and arts hub.

“There aren’t a lot of places to play in Brampton,” he says, noting that bands play in Garden Square under the Big Screen during the summer time and there are numerous music events happening in Gage Park, but he says that leaves out the colder months.

“What about the other months of the year?” he asks. “It would be great if we had a venue that would facilitate that all year round. That would be fantastic.”

While the Rose Theatre is also located downtown, Humphreys says it doesn’t offer many opportunities for emerging talent. “You have to be a bigger act to perform there, but how do you become a big act if you don’t have the chance to get your foot in the door?”

That’s why Humphreys got to work to do what he could to spark some new ideas. His model is built to 1:87 scale and features the existing Heritage Theatre block as its centerpiece.

The building has sat empty for years, unused and reportedly falling into disrepair.

“The Heritgage Theatre was quite the landmark in its time; there’s a lot of history there,” says Humphreys. “It’s sad to see it sit there just lifeless, doing nothing, when it should be utilized.” Referencing the City’s plans to revitalize the area and the newly announced arrival of Ryerson University, Humphreys believes that the Heritage Theatre can also play an important role.

“I think step one is to start using the buildings we have,” he says. “The location is perfect; right downtown, next to all the transit, access to Zum buses and the GO Station.”

The Heritage Theatre block, currently for sale.
The Heritage Theatre block, currently for sale.

Humphreys began his work by creating accurate surveys and measurements of the entire area from Nelson and Main Streets down to Queen Street. He sampled the textures and colours of the buildings to capture every detail. Then, at home, he used various materials and tricks of the trade that he has learned to create and assemble the model.

The result is a diorama that looks very real, just like the real place. Humphreys admits that modern tools like Google Maps allow anyone to see Downtown Brampton in a virtual way, but the physical model offers a different level of experience.

“It’s tactile. You can actually go up to it, you can touch it and you can feel it. You can immerse yourself in the environment,” he says. “A diorama really inspires you and gets the creative juices flowing.”

Humphreys had hoped to offer the model to the City of Brampton so that it could be photographed for our readers and displayed to the public at City Hall but, sadly, after numerous requests to them, he did not obtain a response.

Fortunately, Humphreys found support from Darrin Martens, the Senior Curator at PAMA, Peel’s Art Gallery, Museum and Archives, who provided space in their art gallery for a few hours to have the model photographed by Stand UP for Brampton (see photos below).

Impressed with the quality of the model, Martens was pleased to give Humphreys access to the space at PAMA. “We provide opportunities for community members and individuals that are reflecting on Brampton’s history and its future,” says Martens. “Understanding how much work Matthew put into his project, we were happy to help him take it to the next level and help him and others fulfill and reach their dreams.”

Remarking on the value of the miniature model of Downtown Brampton, Martens believes that a younger perspective is key to unlocking the potential in the area. “If one learns from history, we can build a better future.”

 

Support Matthew Humphrey’s petition to see the Heritage Theatre become something new and exciting. Click the image below and sign up.

Your opinion is needed about Brampton's Heritage Theatre! Support the arts!

 

 

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Meet the ORIGINAL Brampton

Brampton resident Leif Jorgensen standing in Brampton, England.

We live in Brampton and love living here, but there is another Brampton, located an ocean away, which our city is named after. It is much older and was recently visited by a resident who calls this Brampton home.

Brampton, Ontario, resident Leif Overgaard Jorgensen recently toured the U.K. and made a stop in Brampton, a small town located within the district of Cumbria in northwest England. Jorgensen prepared a collection of photos and submitted them exclusively to Stand UP for Brampton for us to share with you.

The “olde” Brampton was founded in the 7th century, and today is home to 4,627 residents. The town consists of many historic buildings, shops and homes, surrounded by pastoral fields.

According to Jorgensen, the name “Brampton” takes its origins from the early settlers who immigrated to England from Holland. The Dutch word brombaer in English means “blackberry”, and ton is “town”, so  “blackberry town” became Brampton.

Brampton is a small market town and still features its original town hall with a distinctive clock tower. The octagonal structure is located in the centre of Brampton and today houses the tourist information centre.

The original cobblestone streets and the heritage buildings give the town a very authentic look and feel.

Jorgenssen says he travelled to the town specifically to take photos of the original Brampton for all of us to be able to see and enjoy.

Thank you, Mr. Jorgensen!

The original town hall.
The original town hall.

Market Place, located in the centre of the town.
Market Place, located in the centre of the town.

Brampton Roosters, a fish and chips place.
Brampton Roosters, a fish and chips place.

Nags Head, a pub located in the centre of the town.
Nags Head, a pub located in the centre of the town.

Wayfinding signage.
Wayfinding signage.

The Howard Arms Hotel on Front Street.

Local real estate office.
Local real estate office.

 

The biggest loser in the Ontario provincial election

By Paul Vicente

 

 

Elections used to be about issues. There are so many of them. Fiscal issues, family issues, transit, infrastructure, auto insurance, healthcare, et cetera.

In this provincial election, we don’t seem to be talking about issues. Much.

Instead, the media reports are filled daily with stories about scandals, candidates’ transgressions, sordid stories about familial disputes and even wardrobe choices.

Ontario holds the largest non-sovereign debt in the world. With a debt approaching $330 billion, the interest payment to service the debt exceeds $12B every year; that’s more than what we spend on colleges and universities.

Where do the parties stand on this? How do they plan to address it?

Here in Brampton, we are experiencing a crisis in healthcare. Last year, 4,352 patients were cared for in the hallways of Brampton Civic Hospital, an issue brought to light after Brampton resident Jamie-Lee Ball recounted her ordeal of spending five days on a stretcher in a hallway while bleeding internally and in severe pain.

A city of over six hundred thousand people is served by one emergency room and an urgent care centre that is open just fourteen hours a day. We have a single full service hospital equipped with six hundred beds, less than half the national average of 2.6 hospital beds per 1000 people.

What are the leaders of the parties prepared to do to fix healthcare?

For more than a decade, Brampton has been mandated by the Province to grow, a policy that has led to unprecedented growth in our city. Unfortunately, without the necessary funding to build infrastructure and to pay for social services, residents have been forced to pay more and more every year through their municipal property taxes.

How will the province help cash-strapped municipalities?

Auto insurance is a huge issue in Brampton. Compared to the provincial average, Bramptonians pay 44 per cent more for car insurance, with some folks paying substantially more than others who live on the opposite side of the street.

What can be done to help drivers in Brampton?

Are we even talking about these things? Where do the parties stand on these issues? What are the solutions to these problems?

On June 7th, Ontarians will go to the polls, and a new government will be chosen. There will be winners, and there will be losers.

The biggest losers are citizens, because in the era of super-short campaigns, scandalous headlines and ten-second soundbites, we have not heard the detailed positions of the political parties. Elections should be about issues.

Make sure you vote. Make an informed choice.

Larry Beasley to present an incredible new “vision” of a future Brampton

Vision of "Central Uptown", currently the Powerade Centre lands.

The City of Brampton hired award-winning urban planner Larry Beasley to develop a new, future-ready vision of out city, and after a year of consultation with residents and stakeholders, Beasley’s “Brampton 2040 Vision” document will be presented to Members of Council in a special meeting on Monday.

Called “Living the Mosaic“, Beasley sees Brampton’s future as one where the city offers a mosaic of places and spaces where residents from all backgrounds can live, work, celebrate, learn and be connected.

Larry BeasleyLarry Beasley, worked to transform Vancouver, Abu Dhabi, Dallas and Moscow. In Vancouver, he helped usher in New Urbanism, where communities incorporate environment, walkable neighbourhoods, and an ideal ratio of housing to jobs. Beasley was awarded the Order of Canada in 2004 for having “played a leading role in transforming” Vancouver’s “downtown core into a vibrant, livable urban community”.

Harry Schlange, Brampton’s new Chief Administrative Officer, who the City hired in 2016 to take the top post at the city, brought in Beasley to consult with Bramptonians and prepare the vision document with a budgeted cost of up to $500,000. The process tapped input from residents, and over 11,000 people contributed specific comments and ideas.

The vision sees the creation and development of a new Brampton Core which enfolds the historic Downtown and a new, centrally-located Uptown.  Designed to compete with nearby regional centres, Uptown would become Brampton’s corporate hotspot and tourist destination. Uptown extends from the Hurontario and Steeles area where present-day Shopper’s World is located, to the 410 and 407 highways area, where the Powerade Centre presently stands.

Artist's vision of Brampton Uptown, intersection of Hurontario and Steeles.
Artist’s vision of Brampton Uptown, intersection of Hurontario and Steeles.

Beasley sees large, available tracts of land as the first opportunity where development can happen almost immediately, and as the city progresses over time, parcels where development currently exists may become potentials for redevelopment. Existing greenspaces, trails and river valleys, cherished features of the city, complement the overall layout. Promoting cycling is seen to be an important component of this vision.

The vision call for the development of Five Town Centres, one in each sector of Brampton, so that mainstream companies and businesses that do not need the core profile and do not want the higher rents can nonetheless come to Brampton and enjoy complete urban offerings and lifestyle at their fingertips. This brings more jobs home to Brampton. These centres are lower-scaled and walkable.

Five Town Centres and the new Brampton Core.
Five Town Centres surrounding the new Brampton Core.

A bold new vision for a Bramalea New Town updates and revitalizes the area with the addition of mid/high-rise residential buildings, more street retail offerings, and a new rapid transit station. New districts will offer a broad mix of features including a canal walk, farmer’s market, a redeveloped mall, office space, hotel, library and performing arts centre, in addition to recreational places including a gym, pool, ice rink and roof gardens.

Vision for Bramalea, surrounding a redeveloped retail mall.
Vision for Bramalea New Town, surrounding a redeveloped retail mall.

The Downtown Brampton vision utilizes the just-announced Ryerson University as the game changer which sets the area on a path towards much-needed revitalization. The university brings a new purpose to the area, and with an eye towards preserving heritage and bringing in new development, downtown will become a place where Brampton can showcase its natural, cultural and built heritage.

Vision for Downtown Brampton, a healthcare, education, arts and life sciences hub.
Vision for Downtown Brampton, a healthcare, education, arts and life sciences hub

Through innovative design, Beasley sees modern and historic elements coming together to build unique and high-value uses. With the presence of City Hall, the area can continue to build on its civic purpose, and with the right investments, can become a place with a special vibe, thanks to festivals, culture and arts.

With a hospital and university as anchors, growth and redevelopment in the downtown area is likely to accelerate. The vision requires the Riverwalk project to proceed, thus removing barriers to residential development. The Riverwalk project is currently being studied, and if completed, would prevent the Etobicoke Creek from causing floods in the downtown area during major rainfall events.

The vision for the Queen Street corridor takes shape as Queen’s Boulevard. With anchors located an each end (Downtown and Bramalea), Queen’s Boulevard is destined to permit a lifestyle where everything is immediately at hand.

Queen's Boulevard, artist view looking east from Kennedy Road.
Queen’s Boulevard, artist view looking east from Kennedy Road.

Queen’s Boulevard will be a tight corridor of higher density and scale with mixed uses and continuous commerce at grade. Buildings will all adhere closely to the street with a continuous streetwall and activities spilling out on ample sidewalks – cafes, shopping, and amenities – with several lines of large trees and special lighting. The area would be highly walkable.

Behind the front row of buildings, a second row of development, on the parallel streets, scaled to step down buildings from the central spine, could ultimately reinforce the corridor.

To spur developer and consumer interest and action along the Queen’s Boulevard, Beasley is urging the City of Brampton to build out key components of the public realm design scheme to confirm the new image of the boulevard, and then, work to pull in new builders, tenants and uses that contribute to the vision for the area.

There is much more contained in the vision document, including suggested transit alignments, an initiative to implement 100% free transit by 2040 to promote car-free travel, a recognition that our proximity to the airport and position in the GTHA continues to make Brampton an important logistics hub, a call to action to build affordable housing, strategies to encourage healthy lifestyles, promote sports, and arts and culture, and a strong emphasis on integrating job creation strategies into every opportunity as the plans to make this vision happen unfold.

Bramalea New Town Canal Street artist image.
Bramalea New Town Canal Street artist image.

Now, what remains is for the City to endorse this vision, if it so chooses, and begin to put in place the framework and strategies to ensure that it is successfully executed. Will Brampton move ahead? Will we see this vision approved and steps taken, over many years to see this vision become a reality?

With a firm resolve and the support of the people of Brampton, that answer can be affirmative, and the we may find ourselves on a path towards 2040, confident in knowing where we are headed, and what the end result can look like.

You can read the entire vision document by clicking here, and be sure to watch Larry Beasley’s presentation to Members of Council on Monday evening at 7 PM on the City of Brampton website.

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Brampton in 2040.
Brampton in 2040.

Downtown Brampton in 2040.
Downtown Brampton in 2040.

 

 

 

Metrolinx says parking is safe at Brampton’s Ryerson University location

The new Ryerson University in Downtown Brampton.
The new Ryerson University in Downtown Brampton. Artist Concept. Source: COB

Will the construction of a new university in Brampton mean that parking will be eliminated as a result of Ryerson’s building plans? Not likely, according to Metrolinx.

The City of Brampton has released images that define the precise location of the new university to be built by Ryerson University in partnership with Sheridan College, the City of Brampton, and Metrolinx.

Located on the existing GO Train Station Parking lot, the renderings show a building located at the corner of Church Street West and Mill Street North, covering an area of approximately 3 acres.

The renderings are conceptual only, and do not represent the final plans for construction; however, Bramptonians who use the GO Train service have flooded social media with questions regarding the potential loss of parking that would occur as a result of building the new university there.

Stand UP for Brampton reached out to Metrolinx for comment and, according to spokesperson Anne Marie Aikins, GO users can rest assured that any plans for construction will incorporate a plan to ensure their parking needs are met.

“Our goal is to ensure minimal disruption to our GO customers,” says Aikins. “We are going to work with Ryerson and the City of Brampton on a parking strategy to have parking spots secured prior to any agreement.”

Transit users have noticed boarded-up homes in an area located directly south of the train station, along Railroad Street and Elizabeth Street. Metrolinx has been acquiring property there, likely in anticipation of a future need for their customers.

“The parking strategy may include that we use this piece of land temporarily and then this piece of land; so in that parking strategy, we are looking to minimise any disruption,” explained Aikins. “That is our policy for any kind of building, if we are working on a station, if it has to use parking spaces, we secure parking in other areas. That is a commitment we make to our customers.”

Satellite image depicting the Ryerson University location in Downtown Brampton. Source: COB
Satellite image depicting the Ryerson University location in Downtown Brampton. Source: COB

Bringing a new university to Brampton has been a key priority for the City. In September 2017, Brampton City Council made a historic commitment of up to $150 million for a new university and centre for innovation. The Province has committed $90 million.

In a press release Tuesday, Ruby Sahota, MP for Brampton North, said that she is working to ensure the Federal government is not on the sidelines with regards to support for the university project.

“I look forward to continue advocating for federal involvement in this project and others because this university will be a game changer,” stated Sahota, in her release.

In March, Stand UP for Brampton interviewed Ryerson’s President, Mohamed Lachemi who spoke powerfully about his desire to see Ryerson become tightly integrated within our community, emphasizing Brampton’s unique geographical positioning within the innovation corridor of the GTA.

“Brampton is the connector between Waterloo and Toronto, and if you can have a university like Ryerson that is focused on innovation and entrepreneurship at the center of the corridor; with the creation of an innovation hub at the center, we can attract people from both sides. It’s like a magnet attracting talent and people from both sides.”

You can read our full interview series with President Mohamed Lachemi by clicking the links below:

  • Part I: Community collaboration to build a city – Click here.
  • Part II: Economic Benefits and the Innovation Hub – Click here.
  • Part III: Brampton as a world leader with specialized programming – Click here.

This is Ryerson’s first expansion of academic programming outside of its iconic downtown Toronto campus. Ryerson has a reputation as a city-building institution, and is globally recognized for its business-focused innovation zones. With a focus on career-oriented education, Ryerson receives the most applications, relative to spaces available, of any university in Ontario.

The project has an anticipated academic start date of September 2022.

Artist's future concept rendering of the Downtown Brampton area, looking north from City Hall. Source: COB
Artist’s future concept rendering of the Downtown Brampton area, looking north from City Hall. Source: COB

The new Ryerson Building and Centre for Innovation looking south towards Brampton City Hall. Source: COB
The new Ryerson Building and Centre for Innovation looking south towards Brampton City Hall. Source: COB

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Brampton’s STEAM is rooted in STEM

Teams from Brampton are competing at the 2018 VEX Robotics World Championship

By Victoria Kaye

As Brampton begins to realize the dream of a STEAM-powered university to drive the future, today our city is standing tall on the STEM world stage.

A number of student teams from Brampton are set to take the world stage at this year’s VEX World Robotics Competition held in Louisville, Kentucky. 400 teams will be competing, with fifteen teams hailing from Brampton.

VEX Robotics Design Systems, in association with the Robotics Education and Competition Foundation, has been hosting regional, national and global tournaments for 11 years in their effort to encourage youth around the world to pursue STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) studies. Over 20,000 teams from 40 nations have competed.

Castlebrook Secondary School is sending three teams. North Park Secondary School’s Viking Robotics is sending four teams. A team originally from Chinguacousy Secondary School who, since its 2014 championship, has continued as the not-for-profit organization called Brampton Robotics is sending six teams. Known as Discobots, they were also the 2016 VEX World champions in both the High School and Elementary categories.

Returning to this year’s competition as 2017’s VEX IQ Challenge Middle School World Champion, winner of the VEX IQ Challenge Robot Skills and two other awards, are the KraftWerx Gladiators, a team of Grade 9 friends from various Brampton area high schools. This year, they move up a class to the High School categories and a new foursome of Grade 7 & 8 students assume their winning team number, 555A.

Typically, cities only see one or two teams making it this far. The fact that Brampton is sending fifteen of the top 400 teams to the VEX World Championships is outstanding. We are actually sending more teams than most provinces and, according to VEX World’s PR firm, Brampton consistently does well on the national and global stages of these competitions.

Each year, VEX Robotics challenges the student teams with an exciting engineering problem in the form of a game. This helps the learning process by giving both beginner and advanced students an achievable goal to work towards in an extremely supportive environment, with mentoring by teachers, coaches and peers.

KraftWerx is not a school team; it is a home-based robotics group with a mechanical engineer and father as their coach. “It started with my son,” explains coach Saranjit Wilkoo. “He saw all my tools while growing up and I would find him playing with them. A few years ago, these guys were all on their laptops, playing games. I said, Let’s use the laptops for something more results-oriented.” That’s how Saranjit got the kids involved in these ongoing STEM-based games that lasts 8-9 months. He couldn’t do it alone, so he called up friends and work colleagues from the Brampton area and found more kids that were like-minded and wanting to get into robotics.

“Our robot is a lot more complex than the one we built last year,” begins Saranjit’s son Tejas Wilkoo. “We always build our robot around a specific game. This year, VEX designed it so we must stack cones.” With great detail and easy wording by Tejas and the team, it was easy to understand the mechanics of their sport.

“The way to make points is determined by how we play with an allied team against two opposing teams,” Aryan Shah explains. At the beginning of a game, they meet their allies for the first time and only have a set time to collaborate and strategize with them.

“The brain of the robot is here,” points Sahaej Arora, as their robot works from their ability to manipulate its behaviour through the technology provided. Though there is no combat, it is very competitive – a battle of wits using joysticks and computer programming.

“The technology processing is everything,” states Krish Panzade, explaining the main game-changer is the way they apply the technology. “Though the structural frame of all the competing robots may be the same, additional alter-sonic sensors give the robot human-like abilities. Technology, hardware and software are all combined, making a really good application of the robot.”

Working as a team is one of the life skills achieved, as demonstrated by how smoothly explaining the mechanics of their operation passes from one to another, like a baton in a relay team. The new junior team, including middle school students Darsh Panzade, Aryan Shah, Shaan Mehta and Hrishi Taylor, is in its first VEX World Competition. This team currently ranks first in Canada, and fifth in the world. Similar to the KraftWerx senior team, their task is based on how their robot works and performs on the field.

In a match, there will be two robots, each from a different team, attempting to achieve the same goal. In addition to game-play, Aryan explains, “VEX Robotics mainly promotes STEM. In our division, we also have to do a STEM project where we research products that aren’t related to robotics, find a problem and, using robotics, determine how we can fix the problem.” Just like the senior team, they explain their task and the mechanics of competition in perfect four-part harmony.

Here is where the future looks bright…

Most competition is based on combat. A winner is determined by beating the opponent. In the world of robotics and STEM ideology, the winner reigns supreme by how well they all get along. In most cases, teams are paired with and against other teams who do not necessarily speak the same language. It’s all about their ability to collaborate, manage the project, and accomplish the task while troubleshooting along the way.

“It’s not easy to qualify for the Worlds,” Saranjit states. “With each passing year, it becomes more and more difficult.”

Interestingly, these experiences are opening up new conversations and career paths in the young participants. That is what STEM is all about, and probably why Brampton Mayor Linda Jeffrey has been championing towards bringing a STEM-based University which also includes the Arts to spell STEAM to Brampton. Ryerson is leading the charge as they have teamed up with Sheridan College with plans to break ground in Brampton soon. It’s obvious —whatever is in the water we drink, our well runs deep with potential.

It’s encouraging to know that so many kids are wanting to pursue STEM and STEAM-oriented education and careers. They could all be the first to enroll in Brampton’s University.

“Basically, whatever we are learning, we can easily apply to our future,” shares Krish. “Suppose I want to go into mechanical or hardware engineering. Macro engineering is programming and building at the same time. Giant space stations and companies like NASA are using technology like this, but on a larger and wider scale. I’m now interested in either or both —it’s intriguing.”

“I’ve noticed I am more open to enlightening experiences,” Tejas confesses. “I now realize I will definitely be pursuing engineering or robotics as a career.”

As robotics can lend themselves to many fields, Aamodot Acharya of the KraftWerx Senior team has discovered a potential career path for himself which is slightly different. “I wanted to pursue biology, but then I got into this, and now have two passions. I recently found out there are biomedical engineering jobs where my experience from robots can be applied to my passion for biology.”

During Stand Up 4 Brampton’s recent interview with Ryerson’s President Dr. Mohamed Lachemi, he explained that Ryerson offers these programs, including work experience through their collaboration with St. Michael’s Hospital where biomedical engineering and science students work alongside clinicians.

Now, combine this with Seneca’s World renowned robotics programs… Aamodot has a lot of educational options opening up to him.

Similar career choices are being considered by the younger KraftWerx members. Shaan wants to be a zoologist and apply what he is learning in robotics to saving animals from extinction — creative. It’s exciting to see how little effort is needed to change career paths.

The only flood we should worry about coming into downtown Brampton is the tsunami wave of talent that is heading this way in the very near future. Brampton’s new university is slated to begin classes September 2022. It will be just in time for these kids to be Brampton’s first STEAM students.

VEX Robotics World Competitions start April 25th and conclude May 1.

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