Council Opinion

Losing Regional Seats? Caledon Requests Extension from Minister

Caledon Town Hall image
Written by Patti Foley

It was the worst of times, and it seems things may get worse.

A pandemic envelopes us, local small businesses are struggling to stay afloat, and Christmas is shaping up to bring as much heartache as joy, for many families. Yet last night we sat at our screen to watch….wait for it…a special meeting of Caledon Council. 

Why?  Because last week, at the Peel Regional Council meeting, a motion passed that seeks to remove 2 Caledon seats from the Regional table, and for Brampton to be the recipient of those seats. It blind-sided Caledon. No advance notice for our Mayor and Council. Caledon residents had no notice. In fact I’m going to go out on a limb and say that most Brampton residents probably weren’t aware as well.

Just as unsettling is the fact that, when Councillor Innis requested a deferral of the motion to allow Caledon Councillors some time to look at options and strategies, Councillor Groves voted against the deferral. She later broke ranks again and voted in favour of a motion to supply Brampton with 2 more seats at the expense of Caledon’s.

At that table, for those not familiar, Peel Regional Council makes decisions with respect to services including public health, ambulances/paramedics, long-term care; water, wastewater, waste management, regional roads (such as Mayfield, Airport, Old Base Line, Hwy 50); and housing, shelter, children’s services, and Ontario works.

Angela Panacci: “Third option, fight to keep our 5 seats”

Councillor Groves’ justification was that it was really a matter of whether Caledon would be reduced to just 1 seat or to 3, and that Brampton had initially been contemplating taking 4 away. Her “lesser of 2 evils” defence did not sit well with Caledon resident and delegate, Angela Panacci, who told Groves there was another choice. “There was a third option” Panacci said, “it was to fight for keeping our 5 seats.”

Panacci went on to say that the reduction meant that “40% of Bolton’s voice was removed, 40% of Caledon East’s voice, ….….40% of all of Caledon communities’ voices.”  She also wondered if any Caledon Councillors had conversations with other Regional Councillors in advance of last Thursday’s meeting. “Did anybody have any notice that this was coming down the pipeline?” she asked. The Mayor and Councillors Downey, Sinclair, and Innis answered that they did not. Councillor Groves stated “I received the correspondence at exactly the same time as you all did that morning.”

Sara Clarkson: “I don’t want Mississauga & Brampton planning our future”

Under the Province’s Growth Plan, Caledon’s population is projected to more than double by 2041, and double again by 2051.  The requested reduction of seats would change Caledon’s current 20% (5 of 25 seats) at the Region to a mere 12% (3 of 25 seats). And in the words of delegate Sara Clarkson, “I don’t want Mississauga and Brampton planning our future.” Clarkson also expressed her anger and dismay over Groves not supporting the rest of her Area Council while at the Regional table, saying “Having a divide at the Region of Peel puts us (Caledon) in a vulnerable place.”

Councillor Downey: Integrity Commissioner Complaint

Councillor Downey indicated she would be filing a complaint against Councillor Groves with the Integrity Commissioner. She said Groves “openly through the course of this meeting, at 2 points, admitted to having conversations outside of that (Regional Council) meeting in regards to this issue, with members of Mississauga and Brampton Council. I can tell you here publicly that this will be done” she said firmly. “No member of this Council can act independently of this Council without a formal position.”

Councillor Innis: Asking for an extension

A motion was passed requesting that ‘in consideration of the current state of the pandemic” the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing provide an extension to the Region of Peel regarding the composition of Council until March 31st, 2021, and that the Minister make no regulation regarding Peel composition until after that time. Innis urged that a copy of the motion be sent to all MPPs in Peel Region in addition to Peel Regional Council and the cities of Brampton and Mississauga.

Need a fairer solution

Councillors Innis and Downey both spoke about past conversations regarding good governance and other options potentially available to meet Brampton’s needs at the table, and that “a fairer solution” needed to be found.

A motion was tabled outlining that Caledon would support Brampton in their quest for 2 more seats provided Caledon retain their 5. Innis pointed out that there are new members at the Caledon Council table and that they, as well as members of the public, may not know the full history of the discussions and research that have gone into the composition of Regional Council. As well she spoke to the benefit of having “fresh eyes” helping to look for solutions. She requested a deferral of the motion and that a report come back from staff to provide a full overview before a decision is made. 

A Special Council meeting has been scheduled for December 14th.

About the author

Patti Foley

Having spent 25 years in Bolton, Patti remains an advocate for Caledon. As a former Regional Councillor and a long-time community volunteer she is passionate about communicating information about its issues, news, events, people, non-profits and businesses.

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