In a council meeting on Wednesday, city Councillor Gurpreet Dhillon put forward a motion to put a temporary freeze on land conversions in the city until an Economic Development Plan can be drafted.
The plan would dictate Brampton’s strategic growth over the next 25 years and is set to be complete in 2018.
The motion comes on the heels of council’s recent decision to convert 70 acres of employment land in the Highway 50 and Gore Road area to residential use. Councillor Dhillon was the sole vote against the decision.
Since 1989 over 1,500 acres of land zoned for employment has been converted to allow for more sprawling residential development in the city.
The decision by council came as somewhat of a shock to residents as Brampton’s live-work ration sits at 33 per cent. One of the lowest in the GTA. For every three people in Brampton only one job opportunity is available.
Neighbouring cities like Mississauga and Toronto sit well into the 60 per cent range.
“I am disappointed that council keeps telling our residents that building a city where you can live, work, and keep taxes low is not a priority,” said Dhillon at the council meeting. “Instead, this council wants to export jobs outside of Brampton and hand them to other cities and municipalities.”
While Brampton struggles to attract employers and stimulate job creation locally, the city’s neighbour to the south in Mississauga are having no such trouble.
Mississauga is currently home to over 60 Fortune 500 head offices, including General Mills, Honeywell and more.
Brampton on the other hand seems determined to stay a bedroom community where residents are forced to commute out-of-city for work. The decision to convert the 70 acres seems just another nail in Brampton’s proverbial employment coffin.
“We need a more diverse tax base, too much burden is on the shoulder of residents,” said Dhillon, voicing his reasons for so strongly opposing the decision. “More job opportunities means more Bramptonians live and work here, with less commuting to other cities. This means less traffic, and more time to spend with family or personal leisure which means better quality of life.”
Councilllor Dhillon tabled a motion to reverse the decision at Wednesday’s council meeting, but it was defeated in a 10-1 vote, Dhillon being the only vote.
The decision to covert the 70 acres will eventually go to public meetings to receive feedback from residents on the issue.
Dhillon went on to say, “Once these lands are converted, they are gone forever. We’re closing the door to future generations by pushing businesses and industries away from this city.”