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Ford government orders transition board to focus on building homes not breaking up Peel Region

Housing Minister Paul Calandra sent a letter to that board this week stating it should now focus on speeding up home-building in Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon, and removing layers of bureaucracy. (Spencer Colby/The Canadian Press - image credit)
Housing Minister Paul Calandra sent a letter to that board this week stating it should now focus on speeding up home-building in Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon, and removing layers of bureaucracy. (Spencer Colby/The Canadian Press - image credit)

The Ontario government has given the Peel Region transition board new marching orders, telling it to focus on speeding up home-building rather than reviewing the delivery of services like policing and paramedicine.

The Ford government abandoned its plan to dissolve the Region of Peel last month, citing the potential tax shock of the move. The government-appointed transition board, however, remained.

Housing Minister Paul Calandra sent a letter to that board this week stating it should now focus on speeding up home-building in Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon, and removing layers of bureaucracy.

The board should also recognize the importance of "financial sustainability," Calandra said.

Calandra's letter also makes clear the transition board should not make changes to services like police or paramedics.

"All other services delivered by the Region of Peel are considered out of scope for the Transition Board at this time," he said.

Changes to the region were contentious 

Premier Doug Ford initially announced in May that Peel Region, which is made up of Mississauga, Brampton, and Caledon, would be dissolved through the Hazel McCallion Act, named after the former mayor who served Mississauga for 36 years. McCallion died in January at the age of 101.

"I promised Hazel many years ago... that a city of almost 800,000 people should be independent," Ford said at the time.

But both Brampton and Caledon mayors raised concerns.

Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown called the potential impacts of a break up "catastrophic" in a news release, citing a Deloitte report that concluded the break-up would have cost the region over $1.3 billion in operational costs and necessitated a 38 per cent tax increase.

City consultants said the cost of replacing the water treatment and wastewater facility currently in Mississauga would cost Brampton a total of $4 billion, Brown told CBC Radio's Metro Morning. 

On the other hand, Caledon Mayor Annette Groves expressed concerns over losing employees over uncertainty.

"We're the forgotten child that nobody cares about," she told CBC Toronto.

Calandra backed away from the deal in December, citing "significant tax hikes and disruption to critical services the people of Peel Region depend on" should full dissolution go ahead.

The board is expected to put forward recommendations about the transfer of services from Peel to Mississauga, Brampton, and Caledon by the spring.

The transfer of services will include land use planning, water, wastewater and stormwater, regional roads and waste management. The board has been asked to "move expeditiously" on land planning use, and to maintain public ownership and control of services.

The recommendations will also include options around the creation of a municipal services corporation or a services board.