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;
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.