8 Developing Brampton News Stories to Watch in 2017

Brampton played host to a bunch of news stories in 2016 that remained unresolved. Here’s a few you’ll want to watch unfold in 2017. Will Brampton get its LRT route? Will the city’s monster house finally be torn down? We’ll find out this year.

1. Brampton’s new university

In late October 2016, the provincial government announced that Brampton would be one of two cities to have a new university campus, after decades of campaigning from the city.

The university’s opening is years away. However, key details like which university the city will partner with, where it will be located, and what the city will be contributing to the deal (money, land, etc) are expected to come out this year.

2. Osmington Mall in northwest Brampton

In April 2016, a new mall and high-density mixed-use centre was proposed to be located in northwest Brampton. The mall had previously been approved by the city, but had run into roadblocks.

In the fall of 2016, Osmington was expected to battle the Region of Peel for approval at the Ontario Municipal Board, as well as an appeal that had been launched by Morguard, owners of Bramalea City Centre, to block the new mall development. Despite the ruling being months ago, it hasn’t been made public just yet.

Will the new mall go ahead, or was it be rejected?

3. Canada 150 in Brampton

July 1, 2017 is Canada’s 150th birthday. 2017 should be a rocking year for Canada and Canadians, and yet things are being kept under wraps for celebrations, aside from free access to Canada’s National Parks.

But with this being the big year, everyone should expect Brampton’s Canada Day celebrations at Chinguacousy Park to be spectacular. Maybe Brampton will hire a superstar act to perform?

4. Weekend GO Service

In September 2015, Brampton received all-day, two-way GO train service. It was limited to mid-day, hourly service, but it still partially fulfills a long-standing wish for many Bramptonians.

Now, rumours are swirling that evening and weekend train service might be coming next year. According to a GO train service rollout plan from 2015, the Kitchener Line is supposed to get six new weekday trips (most likely evening service) and 28 new weekend trips in the 2016-2017 fiscal year, which ends March 2017.

Weekend train trips were added to the Barrie Line on December 31, 2016, so it looks like GO is still following this rollout plan. We’ll find out later this year whether Brampton will get access to Toronto by train on weekends.

5. Changes to Peel Police leadership

Its been a rocky few months for Peel Police Chief Jennifer Evans and the police services board. Evans came under fire in 2016 for a number of things, the most notable being her decision to not end carding. Despite a vote from the board, which is partly run by Mayors Linda Jeffrey and Bonnie Crombie, and mass community outcry, Evans has refused to end the practice. Evans also came under fire by anti-discrimination groups because they feel the force lacks diversity. This, a $21 million lawsuit and other negative headlines, has us wondering whether the Peel Police Services Board will decide to keep Evans around. Her $289,000 contract is up for renewal this year.

6. The big blue house

Residents in an old Brampton neighbourhood near Centre and Kennedy have had to look at the ugliest building in the city for several years now. A judge recently ruled that the homeowner had 90 days to be demolished, ask for zoning permissions, or bring the house into zoning compliance. Those 90 days are now up and the fate of the Big Blue House is still up in the air.

Did the owner make a decision? If he hasn’t, the city can now order demolition. Watch in 2017 to see how it all plays out with Brampton’s Monster House.

7. The city’s $28.5 million lawsuit

The City of Brampton is being sued by a local developer, Inzola, who claims  they were unfairly disqualified from the bidding process in the new expansion of city hall, a $500 million project. The lawsuit alleges that former Mayor Susan Fennell and other senior staff participating in the selection process were biased in favour of the winning bidder, Dominus Construction.

The case has been a complex one, having been before the courts for the past five years. Court filings including thousands of pages of documents and emails as well as hours of pre-trial testimony has pointed to some questionable dealings over the years. The trial will progress into 2017, hopefully with an end date this year. Since the lawsuit has been launched against the city, there’s a chance taxpayers could be on the hook for the $28.5 million if Inzola wins.

8. Alternate LRT routes

The LRT is the gift that keeps on giving to Brampton and will continue to be a developing story well into 2017.

What we already know:

  • In October of 2015 the majority of council voted no to a light rail project that would connect Downtown Brampton with Mississauga and the rest of the region. Refusal to accept the project into downtown Brampton also meant refusal of the $400 million funding commitment from the province.
  • Council decided that the LRT would stop at Steeles Avenue and turn back towards Mississauga. They then asked city staff to study alternate routes outside of Main Street that would bring the LRT into Downtown Brampton.
  • City staff came back with two options to build a tunnel into Downtown Brampton The first would drive underground north of Elgin Drive with three underground stops and would cost $570 million. The second would include a stop on the street at Elgin Drive as well as one stop underground and would cost $410 million.
  • Council didn’t like the tunnel options and asked city staff to study three alternate routes; one through the Etobicoke Creek to the hospital, then downtown, one down McLaughlin Rd and one down Kennedy Rd.
  • Though some councillors were in favour of the LRT through the Etobicoke Creek (Centennial and Meadowland parks), most residents in the area were concerned that it would take up valuable park space and impede their privacy so they petitioned against it. It was eventually taken off the table because the land is protected by Toronto Region Conservation Authority and they made it clear they would not offer approvals for Brampton to build an elevated LRT track, to the dismay of some city councillors.
  • Now city staff are studying the two alternate routes down McLaughlin Rd and Kennedy Rd, at the request of city council. Though staff have made it clear throughout the process that the route down Main Street South on the surface is the best and fastest route for travellers. It also has the added benefit of being the most-cost effective of all options presented over the past few years.

Watch in 2017 to see how the story unfolds. What will the reports on these two routes recommend? How will city council pay for these two routes with the funding now off the table, and which, if any, will council choose as the route to stand behind?

Did we miss any big stories to watch this year? Let us know in the comments.