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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Ryerson University to be located at Brampton GO Station

Ryerson will build its new campus on the GO Station parking lot, centre of photo. Source: Google

In what is certain to be a historic day for Brampton, the Province has made its official announcement for funding of a new university campus in downtown Brampton.

After more than a year of speculation, the location of the Ryerson University expansion was revealed at an event hosted by the Brampton Board of Trade this morning.

The new university is set to be located at the corner of Church Street West and Mill Street North in Brampton, presently the parking lot that forms part of the Metrolinx GO Train Station.

You can see our full broadcast, via Stand UP for Brampton, of this morning’s historic announcement by clicking the link at the bottom of this story.

Stand UP for Brampton’s Paul Vicente and Rowena Santos met last month with Mohamed Lachemi, the President of Ryerson University, where he discussed the importance of locating the new university close to transit, particularly, along the Kitchener Rail line, dubbed the “innovation super corridor” that connects Toronto and Waterloo, with Brampton positioned at the strategic center of the two major tech hubs.

Paul Vicente, Dr. Mohamed Lachemi, and Rowena Santos, March 2018.

“If you take the train from Toronto, going to Waterloo, Brampton is the mid-point. So I need to think about a way for us to capture this, and Metrolinx can be a strategic partner in that aspect, for sure,” explained Lachemi. “The location is extremely important, and the linkage to both cities, to Waterloo and Toronto, is extremely powerful.”

You can read the 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.

Focusing on science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM), programming will be delivered in partnership by Ryerson University and Sheridan College. The new site will provide up to 2,000 new undergraduate spaces within five to 10 years.

The new campus will offer specialized programs on “cyber security“, a new and burgeoning field that is a primary concern for corporations around the world. Financial institutions, banks, police services, governments, and utilities are looking at their operations and the new risks presented by global hackers looking to steal information or potentially cause disruption. The area of cyber security has become a top priority with demand for skilled people on the rise.

Dr. Lachemi believes that the new university in our city is poised to become a world-class source for talent. “Brampton can be that hub; it can become a global center for cyber security. It will differentiate Brampton from anything else in the country, I tell you.”

Ontario will invest $90 million for the construction of the new postsecondary school and will also support the land purchase. The City of Brampton has pledged $50 million over ten years towards the new university campus, and an additional $100 million toward a “joint-use centre for education, innovation and collaboration” to be also located in the downtown.

At the announcement, Brampton’s Mayor Linda Jeffrey could hardly contain her excitement, saying that this is a once in a generation opportunity for Brampton. “This will transform Brampton forever,” a smiling Jeffrey said to the attendees in the packed hall.

“Today’s exciting announcement marks the start of transformation for Brampton, and new opportunities for our residents. We are looking forward to continuing our excellent partnership with Ryerson and Sheridan to make Brampton a destination for learning and innovation.”

The scene of today’s announcement, hosted by the Brampton Board of Trade.

Some attendees at the event, remarked that had the City of Brampton approved the proposed plan by Metrolinx to build an LRT line along Main Street, the construction of that project would have provided an essential link to the university, and that construction for both projects would have concluded around the same time.

In 2015, six Councillors voted against the HMLRT plan, and instead chose to stop the line at Shoppers World. The project was set to cost $1.6 billion, with the Province of Ontario  committed to paying the full amount.

New economic activity is expected in Brampton as a result of today’s announcement, and the benefits to the community will include the fact that residents will have the option of attending a world-class learning institution in the heart of the city.

Impacts include the creation of 3000 new construction jobs and $650 million of economic activity, and once the facility opens, 1900 permanent jobs will be supported, and $300 million of economic impact is expected every year.

Planning and design on the new campus is expected to begin immediately, with construction to follow and its completion scheduled for the Fall of 2022.

Watch today’s university announcement here:

University Announcement

University announcement! A historic day for our city.

Posted by Paul Vicente – Stand UP for Brampton on Thursday, April 19, 2018


An artist’s conceptual rendering of the proposed university location. Source: COB


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Brampton MP writes in support of the Sikh-Canadian community

Kamal Khera, Member of Parliament for Brampton West.

Stand UP for Brampton is re-publishing this article as it is of interest to many residents in Brampton and across Canada.


Sikh-Canadians Deserve Better Treatment

By Kamal Khera

Coretta Scott King, a great civil rights leader and the wife of Martin Luther King Junior, once said, “The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.” The Sikh-Canadian community epitomizes this value; we embrace the communities that we live and work in, through selfless acts of service and compassion.

As a result of the uniqueness of our religion and our appearance, our brave community has been bearing the brunt of racism from the Komagata Maru incident, over one hundred years ago, to present day.

The negative narrative associated with the Sikh-Canadian community recently in the media is an example of this prejudice. Sikh-Canadians have faced these acts with significant courage and continue to emerge as shining examples of resilience and humility. Through numerous free community kitchens (langars), food drives, equality initiatives, youth outreach programs, and blood donations clinics, Sikh-Canadians bespeak the Sikh character of helping and supporting fellow human beings through selfless service. Sikh-Canadians believe that service to humanity is in fact service to God.

The attributes of Sikh-Canadians that I have mentioned are already very well known throughout Canada. I write to express the sense of pain I share with my fellow members of the Sikh-Canadian community which has resulted from the baseless criticism of the Sikh-Canadian community over the course of the last month.

I have no intention of providing an opinion on the presence of Jaspal Atwal at the Canadian High Commissioner’s reception during Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s state visit to India, the presence of Talwinder Singh Parmar’s pictures at events, the individual which orchestrated the Air India attack, or the politics behind these discussions. I feel pain on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of peaceful, honest and hardworking Sikh-Canadians that have become unintentional subjects of these controversies, by no fault of their own.

I feel pain on behalf of the children that are bullied and criticized because the Sikh-Canadian community has been unfairly painted as a community of terrorists.

I feel pain for the Sikh-Canadians that volunteer to help the less fortunate by distributing free food to the homeless in downtown Toronto, that somehow are considered members of a terrorist entity, without basis. I know that countless Sikh-Canadians working in factories, offices and businesses are enduring the same emotions. This is extremely unfair to Sikh-Canadians, and counter to the values of diversity and inclusion we celebrate as Canadians.

I have no sympathy for individuals guilty of perpetrating violence against humanity; I categorically condemn all acts of violence. As a Member of Parliament and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue, I have the privilege of interacting with people from all walks of life. Each community in Canada embodies unique and distinguished characteristics that help define them as Canadians; diversity is our strength. This applies to the Sikh-Canadian community in the same way it applies to other communities of Canadians. As a Sikh-Canadian, I am particularly proud of the Sikh spiritual concept of selfless service to humanity.

We cannot deny that a deep sense of pain still exists within the Sikh community as a result of the deaths of innocent Sikhs in 1984. However, this pain is equally and genuinely felt by Hindus, Muslims, Christians, and individuals of all other faiths. Raising your voice to seek justice for the victims of senseless violence can never be termed as terrorism. This is precisely why the people from all walks of life including Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims have been asking for justice for the 1984 victims and their families. This has been my experience here in Canada. This sentiment was reinforced during my recent visit to India, particularly in Delhi.

When we think of a long spell of terrorism in the Punjab region of India, the hard and painful fact is that it was Punjabis, both Sikhs and Hindus, who endured misery the most. I have grown up listening to so many discomforting stories about how Punjabis had to bear the cost of terrorism through loss of life and property. No one would want this to happen to anyone in any segment of the world.

I feel that it is important to genuinely share the pain of the peace-loving, hard-working Sikh-Canadian community of which I am an integral part of. I will sum-up my feelings with a quote from Andrea Gibson,” You can have cold war with yourself, even in the summertime”.


About Ms. Kamal Khera – Kamal Khera is the Member of Parliament for Brampton West and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue. She is a registered nurse, community volunteer and a political activist. Ms. Khera serves on the National Finance Committee as a non-voting member.


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Brampton LRT assembly facility will support over 600 new jobs

Province announces new LRT assembly facility for light rail vehicles (LRVs) in Brampton.

Steven Del Duca, Minister of Economic Development and Growth, was in Brampton today to announce the future home of Alstom’s new LRT assembly facility, to be built in Brampton.

“This is where the vehicles will be assembled, that will help to carry our regional transit system into a new era,” said Del Duca. “The state-of-the-art light rail vehicles that will be built here, will be deployed on new LRT lines like Finch West and the Hurontario in Mississauga.”

“They are part of our government’s absolute, and unwavering, commitment to regional rail, and to helping people move more effectively, more efficiently and more safely across this region.”

Linda Jeffrey, the Mayor of Brampton, was at the announcement and thanked Del Duca for his work on building transit in the city. “I want to thank you for your advocacy in making sure that so much Provincial money comes to Brampton,” Jeffrey said. “You are like my special advocate at the Province.”

In May 2017, Ontario announced a contract with Alstom to provide 61 vehicles for light rail transit (LRT) projects in the GTHA, with an option to acquire an additional 44 vehicles.

The contract, which is worth $528 million, will create between 100 and 120 full-time jobs in the new Alstom facility in Brampton, and support an additional 400 to 500 spinoff jobs. It will ensure that Metrolinx has the high-quality vehicles needed to open its LRT projects in the GTHA on time.

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 light rail vehicles are to be 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.

The Citadis Spirit is designed to operate reliably, even in cold environments. “Ontarians can be assured that the Alstom Citadis Spirit will be here and ready for them to commute back and forth to work, to school and to their appointments regardless of the weather conditions,” explained an Alstom representative who was present at the announcement.

Alstom is the supplier of light rail vehicles for Ottawa’s Confederation Line, a light rail system costing over $5.1 billion, with costs for the project being funded in part by the federal government and the province, while the City of Ottawa is funding a third, or $1.7 billion.

Metrolinx had originally planned to work with Bombardier who has a light 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. As a result, Alstom was selected as a new supplier.

Since 2003, Ontario has invested about $16 billion in priority rapid transit projects in the GTHA, including $1.4 billion for the Hurontario LRT and $8.4 billion for rapid transit projects in the City of Toronto such as the Eglinton Crosstown LRT and the Finch West LRT.

In 2015, six Brampton Councillors voted not to allow the Hurontario LRT along Main Street to connect with the GO Transit station in Downtown Brampton, instead deciding to spend $4.4 million on new environmental assessments to study alternative routes along McLaughlin Road and Kennedy Road to reach the same destination.

Those alternative routes have already been studied and dismissed by experts. The 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.

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


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Alstom livery configurations.







Brampton councillors question value of integrity commissioner

Regional Councillor John Sprovieri.

At a City Council meeting today in Brampton, some Councillors questioned the need for an Integrity Commissioner to deal with complaints from the public against elected officials.

The discussion was sparked by a report from Brampton’s Integrity Commissioner, Guy Giorno, who found a complaint filed by six members of Council alleging a seventh member of Council contravened the Code of Conduct was without merit.

The allegation stated that the seventh member of Council breached the Code of Conduct when confidential information was revealed during a media interview. In his report, Giorno wrote that he could not find that the rules were contravened.

Over the past three years, Brampton’s two Integrity Commissioners have handled at least six complaints filed against Members of Council, many of which were filed by their own colleagues who also sit on Council. Prior to that, eight complaints were filed with the Integrity Commissioner in 2014 alone.

Regional Councillor John Sprovieri, himself, on the receiving end of several Integrity Commissioner investigations in this past term of office and before, stated that the taxpayers were not being well served by the Integrity Commissioner process.

“That really hasn’t achieved much, having an Integrity Commissioner,” said Sprovieri. “This report is very similar to past ones that we have dealt with, where the Commissioner states that there wasn’t enough evidence to find that the person violated the rules.”

Sprovieri tabled a motion that City Staff should provide a report to Council on the cost of the Integrity Commissioner, and whether or not, in Staff’s opinion, there is value in having an Integrity Commissioner. The motion passed 10-1 in a recorded vote, with Councillor Grant Gibson voting against the request.

According to Peter Fay, the City’s Clerk, the question is a mute issue as the Ontario Municipal Act requires that all municipalities must have an Integrity Commissioner by March, 2019.

“The Municipal Act was amended last year, and it will take effect in March 2019, making Integrity Commissioners mandatory for all 444 municipalities in the Province of Ontario with additional powers, and that law is in effect,” Fay explained.

Regional Councillor Elaine Moore agreed that a different process is needed at the City, saying that she believes a mediator might be a better option to assist Members of Council handle their differences.

“Councillor Sprovieri isn’t wrong when he makes the statement that it’s caused tension between Members of Council,” said Moore. “There needs to be a better way to resolve disagreements than the Integrity Commissioner.”

Not all were questioning the need for the Integrity Commissioner. Regional Councillor Gael Miles indicated that the Code of Conduct needs a check to hold Councillors accountable for their actions, citing situations in the past when Members of Council revealed confidential information or behaved badly.

“I totally support having a Code of Conduct and an Integrity Commissioner,” said Miles. “It makes each and every one of us think twice about our own actions, and it makes us accountable not only to each other, but to the public as well.”

Guy Giorno is a lawyer with Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP, one of the largest municipal law firms in Canada. He became the City’s Integrity Commisioner last April, under a contract valued at approximately $187,500 over three years that was approved by Council in early 2017. Giorno replaced Robert Swayze, who, during his time in the role, handled several complaints for the City including some made against Sprovieri.

In 2015, Swayze found Councillor Sprovieri guilty of breaking the Code of Conduct for disclosing confidential information, and recommended that his pay be suspended for 60 days. At the time, Councillor Moore moved for receipt of the report from Swayze, while ignoring the recommendation for suspension of pay. Sprovieri famously remained seated in Council Chambers during the tabling of that report, even though conflict of interest rules would have required him to leave the room.

Despite the pending legislation that requires municipalities must have an Integrity Commissioner, Sprovieri insisted that Staff should provide a report, requesting that they provide information on all the costs associated with the hiring of an Integrity Commissioner, and their opinion on the value of having one.

“As far as I am concerned, it hasn’t really worked,” replied Sprovieri. “All it’s caused is a lot of aggravation and animosity amongst us. It really kills the teamwork effort.”


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Ryerson President says Brampton to become a world leader

Ryerson University plans to implement programs that will make Brampton a hub for learning.

Stand UP for Brampton’s Paul Vicente and Rowena Santos met with the President of Ryerson University, Dr. Mohamed Lachemi, to discuss his vision for a new university in Brampton. Through collaboration, Ryerson will be a key part of the transformation of our downtown core resulting in economic growth and job creation in our city.

But how else will Ryerson help differentiate our city from other municipalities? In this final article we share Dr. Lachemi’s description of the programming at the new campus which will position Brampton a leader on the world stage.


Ryerson University Part III: Brampton as a world leader with specialized programming

Currently, Ryerson offers its 45,000 students in Toronto over 60 different undergraduate programs, but in Brampton, the program offering will be tailored.

“We don’t want to duplicate what we are already offering. We want to offer something that will be useful, something that will offer to serve the city in terms of job opportunities for those that go to the school.” Dr. Lachemi explained.

Increasingly, students need to be prepared for jobs of the future. Ryerson is responding to this need especially in Brampton, by prioritizing the mandate from the province to offer courses geared toward science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM).

Dr. Mohamed Lachemi, President of Ryerson University speaking on a new university in Brampton.

Dr. Lachemi believes there is an area in which a huge gap exists in terms of talent and offers significant opportunities for students. He was excited in sharing that Ryerson University is planning to lead program development in Cyber Sciences and Security at their Brampton campus. This would be a groundbreaker for an institution to develop much needed talent.

“We have a broad vision for Brampton. We don’t want a school just like any other school. We want to create an opportunity for Brampton to shine, not just locally, but globally.”

Referring to cyber sciences and security, Dr. Lachemi explained that “We want the programming to focus on that aspect, but not just from the science and engineering side, but also from the business side. All of our partners here on Bay Street; everyone is telling us that cyber security is important.”

Financial institutions, banks, police services, governments, and utilities are looking at their operations and the new risks presented by global hackers looking to steal information or potentially cause disruption. The area of cyber security has become a top priority with burgeoning demand for skilled people.

Programming focused on cyber security would attract investment from around the world. Settled only fifteen minutes away from the country’s most important airport, and as mentioned in Part II of this series, Ryerson’s university campus in Brampton is at the center of the GTA’s innovation hub where it can reach out to both Toronto and Waterloo to bring them to the table.

“In terms of cyber security, when I am talking to banks, they have thousands of people working for them. That’s also an aspect of training. This is new stuff,” Dr. Lachemi explains while highlighting the demand for such programs within the private sector.

Dr. Lachemi speaking with Rowena Santos and Paul Vicente.

Ryerson is known for its integrated, hands-on and collaborative approach to learning as shared in Part 1 of this series of articles. It is the only university in the system that has an advisory board composed of industry leaders for each of its one programs. They advise on what’s important to the industry in order to create opportunities for the students they hire.

“I think at Brampton we will focus on building a platform where students will be walking alongside with people in the industry and benefit from that experience. We need industry leaders to be involved.”

Dr. Lachemi believes that the new university in our city is poised to become a world-class source for talent. “Brampton can be that hub; it can become a global center for cyber security. It will differentiate Brampton from anything else in the country, I tell you.”

After our meeting with Dr. Lachemi, we felt incredibly inspired by what’s to come. Ryerson’s commitment to collaborate and help build our city with a vision to make Brampton a global center for cyber security will have economic and social ripple effects across generations. Stand UP for Brampton looks forward to this transformational growth.

In case you missed it, here is the entire series of articles generated from our meeting with the President of Ryerson, Dr. Mohamed Lachemi.

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.


Photos by Shelby Morell.


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Paul Vicente, Dr. Mohamed Lachemi, and Rowena Santos.

University to bring massive change to Brampton

Ryerson University is a public research university located in downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Stand UP for Brampton’s Paul Vicente and Rowena Santos met with the President of Ryerson University, Dr. Mohamed Lachemi, to discuss Ryerson’s proposal for a new university. From that meeting it was clear that Brampton has found a collaborative partner committed to community building. This is the second of a three-part series.


Ryerson University Part II: Economic benefits and the Innovation Hub

Promoting innovation and business development are hallmarks for Ryerson. Their new campus in Brampton is uniquely positioned to engage the city’s young and diverse population.

“We are in the business of talent development. Our role is education. We think that there is an opportunity for a university like ours to capture the talent of the region,” explained Dr. Lachemi. “Brampton is a city with a lot of youth, but it’s also a city that has this aspect of diversity where I can tell you, for families, the priority for them is education for their kids.”

Ryerson has already proven through its collaborative approach in Toronto that it can do a lot to engage the business community to provide its students with real-life work experiences that will prepare them for the workplace of the future. But the benefits of having a local university go further.

“When you have a business idea, location, location, location is important. I personally think that Brampton has a huge strategic advantage in terms of its location; You are fifteen minutes from the airport, a major airport, the most important airport in the country.”

There will be an immediate and long term economic ripple effect when Ryerson comes to Brampton. Construction, hiring of faculty, demand for campus housing, student materials and supplies will be imminent. Existing businesses will be supported by more customers downtown with students and visitors coming to the city. This will also open the market for new cafes, restaurants, and small businesses.

The Ryerson campus will organically provide support for the creative energy already bubbling in our city, possibly leading to a boom in the arts and culture sector in Brampton, another important ingredient for economic growth. In the longer term, students who choose to live in Brampton after graduating will be generating a higher income and have more money to spend locally.

Dr. Mohamed Lachemi, President of Ryerson University.

Through the leadership of Dr. Lachemi and partnership with the city, we will attract businesses around the world interested in the talent that Brampton has to offer.

“I was in Mumbai, and there, they are very excited about our project in Brampton. Last week I was in Dubai, talking about some collaboration, and people there mention to me, ‘I heard you are doing something in Brampton.’ Everyone is very positive about the project.”

Dr. Lachemi emphasizes 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.”

This is part of why the collaboration with Metrolinx is key. Local excitement within our city, across the GTA and abroad, matched with Ryerson’s entrepreneurial spirit and collaborative approach mean that people want to seize this opportunity.

The Board of Directors of Ryerson, a panel comprised of some of the top executives in Canada, including companies like Rogers, Brookfield, Canada Infrastructure Bank, and others, are inspired by the vision of a university of Brampton. “They are telling me to move faster. Go, go, go! That’s the message I am getting from them now,” Dr. Lachemi says.

The good news is that the land around the property owned by Metrolinx near the GO terminal in downtown Brampton is rumoured as the preferred location. The area is an ideal seeding ground for transformational change in the city. Studies show that the economic impact would be substantial.

Downtown Brampton. (Google)

According to a report issued by the Council of Ontario’s Universities in July 2017, “spending generated as a result of the activities of Ontario universities spurs regional economic and social development. It is responsible for the creation of 478,096 FTE [Full Time Equivalent] jobs and contributes $42.4 billion to Ontario’s GDP. But the impact of universities also goes well beyond the ripple effects of spending.”

In June 2016, Councillor Gurpreet Dhillon attempted to push a motion at Council for more job growth by highlighting the low and uncompetitive employment activity rate in the city at only 33%. After decades of residential development, it’s time to open the doors to business and employment opportunities for our residents. Ryerson will propel this.

New economic activity is expected in Brampton as soon as Ryerson begins developing and settling in. We will begin to shift revenue generated in the city – one that is currently relying on a heavy residential property tax base, to a more balanced structure that includes a healthier level of commercial and businesses in the city.

“Others have missed the opportunity,” says Dr. Lachemi. “Ryerson gets it.”

Discussing Ryerson’s university proposal with Dr. Mohamed Lachemi.

In our third and final article generated from our meeting, we will discuss Dr. Lachemi’s ideas on the unique programming that Ryerson will offer – another differentiating opportunity that will position Brampton as a world leader and specialist.


Photos by Shelby Morell.


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.


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Dr. Mohamed Lachemi’s provides a bird’s-eye tour of Ryerson University’s extensive Toronto campus as it can be seen from his 13th floor office.



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