Premier Kathleen Wynne was in Brampton Wednesday for a special town hall with over 200 residents in attendance.
The topics discussed throughout the evening ranged from health care and workplace legislation to balancing budgets and education.
One topic in particular has been a sore spot for Brampton for some time: proper representation at the Region of Peel council table.
When it came time for the audience to ask questions, Regional Councillor Gael Miles (Ward 7-8) took the microphone to ask the Premier to step in and ensure Brampton has more representation at the Region of Peel.
“Can you commit today in the city of Brampton, that you will ensure our community is fairly represented at Peel Regional Council in time for the 2018 municipal election,” said Miles.
“Premier it’s December and we don’t have any more time. We’ve gone through your process four times. We’re never going to reach a triple majority because Mississauga stops us at every turn. So, the only person who is going to allow Brampton to receive equitable representation at the Region of Peel is you.”
While the Premier acknowledged that she understands the issue, she made it clear that her government would not step in and commit to the issue raised by Councillor Miles–at least not before the next election.
Wynne did say however that there is a “local mechanism” that could be used in this situation, but added that new legislation will allow for the Minister of Municipal Affairs to step in and make a change after the 2018 election.
Currently, Brampton has seven seats at Regional Council, Mississauga has 12 and Caledon has five seats. Since this proportion of seats was decided, the vast majority of Peel Region’s growth has taken place in Brampton.
To reflect the city’s drastic increase in population relative to Mississauga, Brampton has attempted to obtain greater representation at Regional Council before. Mississauga, which has 50 per cent of the votes as things now stand, makes hope for Brampton’s success in rebalancing Regional Council unlikely.
Broken down, Brampton’s seven councillors represent approximately 84,000 people each, Missauga’s 12 councillors represent 63,000 constituents and Caledon’s five represent about 14,000 people.
Brampton has been fighting a long battle for representation more reflective of the city’s size at the Regional Council table. The city wants all of its 11 councillors to sit at the regional council table but attempts have failed to garner support from Mississauga councillors who are unwilling to relinquish their council dominance.
Brampton’s particular grievance has been with Caledon’s representation. Having only two fewer councillors than Brampton, the councillers have a much smaller pool of constituents.
Since attempts to even things out have been unsuccessful, Brampton’s regional councillors have gone so far as to petition the Ontario government to step in and implement legislation to make things more equitable, though the Province hasn’t done so.
While it’s not the solution Brampton wants right now, it seems like there’s finally a light at the end of the tunnel for this issue. A full stock of things will be taken after the 2018 election, which may finally mean some change.