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Mississauga mayor defends council plan to seek 'independence' from Peel Region

Mayor Bonnie Crombie is defending a Mississauga council plan to seek "independence" from Peel Region, saying some municipal services would still be shared if the city goes its own way.

Bonnie Crombie says some services, such as Peel Regional Police, would continue to be shared

Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie says there may be more political will at Queen's Park these days to allow the city to separate from Peel Region. Some services, such as those provided by Peel police, would continue to be shared, she said. (CBC)

Mayor Bonnie Crombie is defending a Mississauga council plan to seek "independence" from Peel Region, saying some municipal services would still be shared if the city goes its own way.

One such service is the Peel Regional Police, Crombie told CBC Radio's Metro Morning on Tuesday. Her comments come a day after a town hall meeting in which more than 300 residents voiced support but concerns about the plan and asked for more details about disadvantages.

Council passed a motion in principle in March to ask the province for legislation to allow Mississauga to leave Peel Region. Mississauga, a city of 752,000, makes up the region along with the municipalities of Brampton and Caledon.

Crombie said separation would give political power to the city to determine and fund its own priorities at the same time it would save the city some money. The plan follows "One City, One Voice" campaign started by former Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion 15 years ago.

Residents voiced support but concerns about the plan and asked for more details about disadvantages at a town hall in Mississauga on Monday night. (Natalie Nanowski/CBC)

According to Crombie, there seems to be more political will now at Queen's Park to change the status quo.

'We would like to control our own destiny'

"Regional government is broken. It's an antiquated model and it's fundamentally unfair for Mississauga," Crombie said. "We've proven that we're a fiscally responsible city. We can govern our own affairs. So we would like to control our own destiny."

Mississauga, Ontario's third largest city, wants the same political power that other cities in the province already enjoy, including London, Guelph, Windsor, Thunder Bay and Dryden, she argued. 

With 52 per cent of Peel's population, Mississauga covers 60 per cent of the region's budget, subsidizing the other municipalities. At the same time, it has only 50 per cent of the vote, which means there is no representation by population at the region.

Mississauga, for example, wants to build affordable housing for the middle class and provide incentives for the building of downtown office towers through a community improvement plan, priorities not shared by the region.

"Certainly, it would streamline things. It would remove duplication, It would increase efficiencies," she said. 

Residents listen intently at a town hall meeting in Mississauga about the plan to leave Peel Region. (CBC)

If it were to separate, Mississauga would have no legal obligations to pay any debts to Brampton and Caledon, Crombie argued.

Plan drawing mixed reaction

But the city expects Peel Regional Police would continue to serve all three municipalities in the region. "Things would remain as they always have," she said of the police.

Caledon Mayor Allan Thompson and Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown, however, have strong reservations about the plan. Thompson told Metro Morning on Tuesday that property taxes in Caledon would rise but the municipality would continue to exist, he said.

"This is going to be a costly venture for all of us to give Mississauga the dissolution that they want," he said.

Many residents expressed support for the plan at the town hall on Monday night. In a news release issued before the meeting, the city said Mississauga subsidizes Brampton and Caledon, with the city contributing as much as $85 million a year to the region.

Murray Etherington, a resident who attended the event, said the plan makes sense given the city's history.

Mississauga resident Murray Etherington says: 'I'm very emotional about this. I've lived here 27 years out of the 47-some-year life of the city as part of the region. But it seems to get worse and worse and worse. It is time for a change.' (CBC)

"I'm very emotional about this. I've lived here 27 years out of the 47-some-year life of the city as part of the region. But it seems to get worse and worse and worse. It is time for a change."

Etherington said local councillors need to tell the Doug Ford government: "We're here. This is what we want. We don't want what you want. No Amalgamation. Separate city. Tomorrow."

Dissolution to benefit Mississauga the most, report says

A March report by Deliotte looked at the costs of what it called "dissolution" of Peel Region, saying the plan has different impacts for each of the three municipalities, to the "detriment" of Brampton and Caledon. 

"Mississauga benefits the most from dissolution, especially as it sees positive trends in financial metrics," it reads. "On dissolution, Caledon would face significant challenges and is not viable on their own in the event that a governance model changes."

The report says the municipalities would have to look at the impact on the following key services: police, water and wastewater, roads, waste management, housing and development charges.

With files from Metro Morning, Natalie Nanowski

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