Brampton is sliding into 2019 with a ton of issues to tackle. Not only does the city have a new mayor and council, but its rapid growth has created unique challenges. So how will Brampton navigate it all? Here are 10 issues to watch in 2019.

1. Cannabis

The January 22 deadline to opt in or out of having retail cannabis stores is fast approaching. The city of Brampton is conducting further public consultations to gauge how residents feel about having pot shops in their neighbourhoods. As of now, Brampton’s neighbours to the south in Mississauga have said no, while cities like Toronto and Orangeville have said yes. Council will decide in the next couple of weeks.

2. Ryerson University

Will Brampton finally get a university? In October, the Ford government announced it would no longer be funding the $90 million Ryerson campus that was slated to open in Brampton by 2022. As of now, Ryerson is still at the table and actively speaking to Brampton, but plans are on hold until a new funding source becomes available. There were talks of the city potentially using some of the $150 million earmarked for an innovation centre in downtown Brampton to build the university. The private sector could also step up to the plate to fund it.

3. Transit Expansion

Brampton has had its fair share of transit drama over the past few years. Back in 2015 council voted down the Hurontario-Main LRT route which would have brought light rail into downtown Brampton. The decision forfeited about $400 million in transit funding that was earmarked for Brampton. In their first session, the city’s new council voted to bring the Main Street route back on the table, but there’s now the issue of getting funding to see the project through. The full route would stretch from Port Credit GO to Downtown Brampton GO, but the Ford government has remained tight-lipped. Ford hasn’t said whether the $1.6 billion previously approved by the Liberal government for the light rail line is still on the table and given the recent trend of slashing projects, this one may be in jeopardy too.

4. Healthcare

Brampton has always had issues with healthcare and the capacity to serve the ever-growing city. The issue was put in the spotlight a lot over the provincial election term. It was found that in 2016, over 4,500 people were treated in hallways at Brampton Civic. The integrated health network that serves Brampton Civic, Peel Memorial and Etobicoke General also receives the lowest funding per capita than anywhere else in Ontario. Brampton has wanted and needed a second/third hospital for decades, and this issue will continue to be a big topic of conversation in 2019 unless the Ford government can come to the table with some solutions that even out the playing field for Brampton.

5. Brampton’s Relationship With the Province

It’s definitely not a secret that Premier Doug Ford and Mayor Patrick Brown don’t get along. Brown has said so himself and Ford even had a thing or two to say about Brown’s tell-all book, which doesn’t hold back criticizing Ford and members of his caucus. So how will this impact Brampton? We’ll see in 2019. The city has a bunch of different projects it needs funding for which may prove challenging as the province continues to tighten its purse strings. It’s all about relationships and it may prove challenging for Brampton to get its piece of the pie with Ford and Brown at odds.

6. Crime

Crime in Brampton has skyrocketed in 2018. While the city’s crimes per capita, isn’t above and beyond that of other cities of its size, we’ve seen a sharp rise in violent crimes, drug offences, and robberies. Peel Regional Council voted for more funding to add new officers to streets in Brampton, and Mississauga too where crime is also on the rise. Regional Council hasn’t implemented any sort of pans above and beyond this, but crime was a big topic of conversation over the election. Residents will no doubt be looking at what elected officials are proposing to combat the issue, above and beyond just adding officers to streets, which is only a small part of the overall issue.

7. Taxes

Property taxes have risen over the past few years, much to the dismay of home and business owners in the city. During the election Mayor Patrick Brown promised that he would hold the line on taxes and wouldn’t be increasing them. The city is about to go into its next budget process and will be looking for efficiencies to deliver on this campaign promise. We’ll find out by April whether Brown can deliver.

8. Federal Election

Brampton just came out of two consecutive election seasons and it’s heading right into its third. This year Trudeau will look to maintain his majority government, and polls say he’s poised to do just that. But how will it play out in Brampton? A red wave swept into the city in the 2015 election and all five of our MPs are liberal, but will they maintain this stronghold? Immigration, crime and the recent defence report that painted Sikhs as extremist threats to Canadian safety are just a few issues that will play in the minds of Brampton voters when they go to the polls this year — and that may impact the result of the election.

9. Car Insurance Rates

Brampton has long held the title of most expensive city in Canada to buy car insurance. It’s been a hot topic with the PCs and the NDP, who are both pushing forward legislation that could end postal code discrimination and level out the playing field for Brampton divers. Will 2019 be the year Brampton finally sees rates go down? We can all dream.

10. Job Creation and Economic Development

Brampton has struggled with having adequate employment opportunities for residents: the majority of Bramptonians commute to Mississauga, Toronto, and other nearby cities every day. In Mayor Patrick Brown’s inauguration speech he laid out his plans for Brampton and a large part of the plan is attracting investment and jobs to the city. He will likely get to work on that in 2019.

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