1. Candidate Bio:
I’ve lived in Brampton for 35 years. My wife and I raised three children here. I’m running because I love Brampton – it’s my home. I’m from Brampton and for Brampton.
I know the challenges facing small businesses, I started and grew a family business in Brampton. I have been active in the Brampton Board of Trade, serving on its Marketing Committee.
From 2011 to 2015 I served as Member of Parliament for Bramalea-Gore-Malton, and as Minister of State for Sport in the Harper government. I am proud to have been the longest serving Minister in that portfolio in Canadian history. I understand how to get results from the federal and provincial governments.
I’m a believer in the value of community service and have been active in the Brampton community for many years. I served on the Peel Regional Police Services Board, the YMCA Regional Council Board, the Peel Children’s Aid Society, the City of Brampton Property Standards Committee, Brampton Civic Hospital Fundraising Committee, and many others. I also organized and coached youth soccer.
2. What are your three top priorities for Brampton?
Broadly, my top priority is change. Brampton’s at a crossroads. We can’t keep doing the same thing over and over. We can’t be just another bedroom community, building nothing but houses. To thrive, we need to be a city with more businesses and the jobs that come with them. We need to be a self-sustaining city, and that will attract both businesses and residents. Brampton needs a government that isn’t constantly fighting old battles, instead looking for new and innovative ways to make the city better.
We need to be a city that is more attractive to business. I hear from business people about a lot of red tape, and I’m committed to fixing that. Firm delivery timelines are needed when businesses need permits, and a streamlined, open tendering process. That also means aggressively pursuing new companies to open in Brampton. Improving congestion makes Brampton a better place, and making the streets safe again. A lot of other issues flow into this, and a lot of changes come out of it, but we need to do it.
Finally, the municipal government lacks transparency. Accusations fly around the Council Chamber and citizens are left in the dark. It’s discouraging to businesses looking at the city. Government needs to be open. I’m going to create a permanent Auditor-General to examine and publicly report on the city’s operations.
3. What is one major council decision from the previous (2014-2018) term that you agree with?
I think the best decision to come out of the last council was approving Vision 2040. I’m glad that council was receptive to a grassroots initiative. We need more innovative ideas like that.
4. What is one major council decision from the previous (2014-2018) term that you disagree with?
The LRT debate showed our city at its worst. It was such a needlessly divisive and acrimonious discussion. There was no willingness to compromise, and no willingness to examine other options. I’ve been clear about the need for the mayor and council to work collaboratively. I won’t divide council into friends or enemies. I’ll work with anyone who wants to make Brampton a better place.
5. Are there any other ideas from other cities that you would like to see replicated in Brampton?
There are too many to number, so I’ll highlight one. Right now the city gives a rebate to the owners of properties that are vacant for more than 90 days. We’re incentivizing people to keep empty buildings empty. What Toronto does is provide a rebate to owners who charge below-market rent to artistic spaces, and arts and cultural groups. That’s a pretty big difference in attitude and that’s what we need to do.
6. What are your top transportation priorities to ease congestion and gridlock in the city of Brampton and connections to other communities?
All day GO service is long overdue. I want to see it accelerated and I’ll go straight to the Ontario government and Metrolinx to make sure that it happens.
We need to plan roads and transit to reflect the realities of today’s traffic patterns. For a long time, planning hasn’t anticipated the number of people on the roads and roads are gridlocked as soon as they’re finished. Facilitating East-West traffic is a priority for me. So is improving our links to other city’s networks to make people’s commutes more seamless.
Also, I’m going to make sure the Ontario Government seriously considers building Highway 413. That route from Milton, through Brampton and Caledon and Vaughan will connect the 401, 407, 410 and the 400. That’s a game changer. Besides easing congestion on a bunch of GTA roads, it presents a huge opportunity for Brampton. The 413 is back on the table, and I will ensure it gets built.
7. What are your thoughts on the Brampton 2040 Vision and how should the city proceed with the vision?
I think Vision 2040 is a great document. It clearly assesses problems, and proposes bold, innovative solutions.
What struck me most was the goal of shifting from 60 per cent of Bramptonians leaving the city to work, to 60 per cent staying in the city for work. That’s been totally off the municipal government’s radar.
It’s a clear blueprint for improving our city, and I want to see it go from plan to reality. It’s crucial that the city doesn’t lose sight of these policy objectives.
8. What is your position on the city’s finances and how would you tackle demands for services and infrastructure renewal?
We can’t keep hiking property taxes year over year. I won’t seek or vote for any new tax increases. I also think the city is too dependent on user fees – they make up nearly a quarter of revenues. We need to re-examine how the city raises revenues while still delivering high-grade services.
The first thing I will do is have line-by-line review of all spending in Brampton. I think we can find savings and put it back into services and projects. I’m also going to establish a permanent Auditor-General, who will review the city’s operations on an ongoing basis.
Long term, we need a broader and more diverse tax base. And that’s one of the many benefits that more business in Brampton will bring. We need to make sure that the full potential of all revenue streams are taken advantage of.
Finally, we need to get more funding from the federal and provincial governments and I’m the person who can do that. Scarborough got a 100 per cent funded LRT and so can Brampton.
9. What are your thoughts on how the city/region should handle the alleged uptick of spontaneous youth violence and crime in the city?
I think the solution is two-pronged. Firstly, we need to have accessible programs for youths that focus them on positive habits and entertainment. I think the way program fees work now price a lot of people out of sports and recreation programming, often those most at risk of going down another path. I’d like to re-examine the role user fees play in our budget and find ways to ensure that the great programming our city is accessible to everyone – and that will prevent crime before it happens.
The second part comes into enforcement: neighbourhood policing works. When police and the community are engaged and cooperative with each other we get positive outcomes. We need more neighbourhood policing. I was dismayed when the Community Police Stations were closed. Police officers should be on the streets, in communities. They should be a real presence in the community. I want to bring back the community stations, and I want to increase the amount of work police do in the community.
10. Why should voters vote for you?
The need for change has never been clearer this election and I don’t see any real change coming from the current leadership. I also hear other candidates make unrealistic promises. I have a plan that is reasonable and achievable and that’s how you get real change.
I am the candidate who can best work with the provincial and federal governments to get the funding and projects we need to make Brampton a better place. I am the candidate who understands the real challenges people in our city face every day and the experience to bring solutions.
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