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Mississauga should hold referendum on leaving Peel, Mayor Bonnie Crombie says

One day after Mississauga city council voted to commission a study on the costs and benefits of going it alone, Mayor Bonnie Crombie told CBC News the city should hold a referendum on separating from Peel Region as part of the 2018 municipal elections.

Going it alone will save money, 'which is always a good thing for taxpayers,' Crombie says

Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie wants citizens of her city to vote in a referendum on splitting from Peel Region as early as 2018. (CBC)

The people of Mississauga should get an opportunity to vote on whether the city should split from Peel Region, Mayor Bonnie Crombie said Thursday.

One day after Mississauga city council voted to commission a study on the costs and benefits of going it alone, Crombie told CBC News the city should hold a referendum on separation as part of the 2018 municipal elections.  

Crombie is an outspoken advocate of secession, saying Mississauga residents would benefit from breaking away from Peel through reduced expenses and an increased say in decisions that impact them.

"Let's get the facts to determine if we can make that business case to say it will save money and there will be fewer politicians, which is always a good thing for taxpayers," Crombie said.

Twelve years after her predecessor Hazel McCallion first floated the idea of de-amalgamation, Crombie said the timing is right to take another look. 

A report on de-amalgamation completed a decade ago suggested there would be a saving of $31 million in accrued savings per year.

Mississauga is where the majority of people in Peel live and its taxpayers foot the bill for almost two thirds of the region's costs, yet its residents don't receive enough representation on the regional council, Crombie said.

Right now, Peel includes the city of Brampton and the town of Caledon along with Mississauga. Brampton has six councillors on the regional council, while Caledon has four and Mississauga has 11. 

In a statement released Thursday, Brampton Mayor Linda Jeffrey said that for more than 30 years, both cities have benefited from the regional system. 
Brampton Mayor Linda Jeffrey issued a statement Thursday accusing the city's biggest partner in Peel Region of wanting to "cut and run." (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)

She said she is disappointed that now, as infrastructure investments are needed in the region, Brampton's largest partner wants "to cut and run."

"We all recognize that there will inevitably be different perspectives and interests at stake, but initiating a costly facilitation process while at the same time seeking to leave the region is not only disingenuous, but a frivolous use of Brampton, Caledon and Mississauga taxpayers' money," Jeffrey wrote.

Along with having more say in what happens, Crombie said Mississauga residents may benefit from the lower cost of running a one-tier government. She says the independent report will determine if savings would be realized.
 
"And if it does then we have a long road ahead of us because we don't have the ability to change anything. We would need to go to the premier to make that change." Crombie said.

"We are in the beginning. We've just voted to do an independent study. It'll probably take a year or more."

A compelling case

On top of a positive business case, support from the residents of Mississauga in the form of a referendum would make a compelling case to take to the premier, the mayor said.

John Mascarin, a lawyer who specializes in municipal law with the Toronto firm Aird and Berlis, said that since regions and municipalities are creations of the provincial government, any changes would need a vote at Queen's Park 

He says amalgamation was done decades ago to save taxpayers' money.

"The thought was there would be an economy of scale. To have, for instance, emergency services and police protection at the regional level," Mascarin explained.

"I think Mississauga has come forward and said, 'we are very different from our neighbours here. Very different needs, very different lifestyles so there is no need for us to band together.'"

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