2017 Provincial Pre-Budget Submission
Good afternoon, thank you for giving me the opportunity to present.
I want to begin by saying thank you.
The announcement about Brampton getting a university on October 26, of last year, was historic and you have set our city on a new course and a new positive trajectory.
Successful cities combine capital, knowledge and innovation to spark the next chapter in their development and this announcement has the power to transform our city.
With a population as young and diverse as ours, investing in our education sector is vital – in particular, postsecondary institutions.
So once again, thank you.
Thinking bigger is how we continue to build a connected, innovative and inclusive Brampton.
We are a city whose residents are young, diverse and bold.
We are the city of the future - a city where people from across the world come to plant their roots.
And, that is the Brampton I want you to keep in mind when looking at our next budget.
Bramptonians are proud.
Our residents sense that the city is on the cusp of something great.
We continue to need your support - your investment - to grow into an even greater economic engine of Ontario – to compete on the global stage.
The support we continue to need is in postsecondary education, green infrastructure, public transit and transportation infrastructure.
There are three specific projects I wish to highlight today: the Riverwalk, mobility hubs, and the GTA West Corridor.
Green space is key to a healthy city.
Brampton has been identified by the Ontario government as an Urban Growth Centre, our downtown is ready to develop as a place to invest, conduct business and live comfortably.
Today, our historic downtown lies within the regulatory floodplain of the Etobicoke Creek and is designated as a Special Policy Area subject to regulations by the Ontario government.
Commonly referred to as Riverwalk, our vision creates a resilient landscape by addressing the challenges of future climate change scenarios and eliminating existing flood risks.
This redeveloped area would support major public transit and active transportation infrastructures, expand the city’s green infrastructure, create new amenities with a variety of new public spaces, and be a catalyst for urban growth and economic development.
Brampton would like the Ontario government to become a partner in developing and implementing the Riverwalk project, and to commit to long-term funding assistance to implement the goals and objectives of Riverwalk.
Not too far from the Riverwalk is one of Brampton’s three mobility hubs, as identified by the Big Move (Downtown, Steeles/Hurontario, Bramalea GO Station).
It also identifies the Rapid Transit Corridors of Hurontario, Steeles Avenue, and Queen Street East to downtown Brampton as a priority in regional transportation.
Ridership growth on our buses in Brampton has substantially outpaced population growth.
Brampton Transit ridership in 2016 increased by 9.2% over 2015 - the increase in our ridership numbers is occurring while other transit systems are seeing a decline.
We appreciate the serious investments the province has made in transit and we encourage you to stay at the table to grow our regional transit system across the GTHA.
Mass transit is not the only item on Brampton’s transportation agenda.
The movement of goods is an integral part of Peel Region’s economy and its potential for economic growth.
The GTA West Corridor would serve as an economic development facilitator for Brampton and Peel Region by creating jobs and helping grow the economy.
The Ontario government’s decision to suspend the GTA West Corridor Environmental Assessment is impacting the planning for, and development of, this growth.
Many important investments are in a holding pattern because of the uncertainty regarding the route.
We need the province to make a decision in regards to the GTA West Corridor as it would support growth in the northwest and northeast parts of the City.
So in closing we are grateful for the opportunity to participate in this process.
One last thought I want to leave you with – when I first arrived at Queens Park in 2003 fair share for peel was an issue, and it continues to be an issue now a decade later.
The population in Peel has tripled – significantly increasing our region’s tax contribution. Yet our social service and community health funding has not increased to match the population.
Our residents face long wait lists for services like affordable housing, child care, youth programs, senior supports, counselling mental health and addictions as well as victims of abuse.
For example, in a calendar year, Peel Children’s Aid Society (CAS) responded to 11,654 calls about children’s safety yet they receive one third of the per capita provincial average in funding.
These funding formulas in a high growth community are essential to neighbourhoods and quality of life as much as roads or sewers, and we deserve our fair share from the province.
I recall roughly 5 years ago securing $3.6 million of provincial grant money for Peel Region’s mental health and addiction services for children and teens.
This was one of the first times Peel had received provincial funding in proportion to its population – and it was considered a momentous moment for the region and Brampton.
That moment, and that funding formula, changed lives; it changed the lives of vulnerable and at risk young people – quite frankly it changed my life seeing the kind of front line services born out of that investment.
These are the kinds of decisions that will be required as the Region of Peel continues to grow at an explosive rate.
Brampton has rapidly grown into the 9th largest city in Canada almost overnight.
With your help we will leverage that growth and our diverse population to become the innovative and exciting magnet in building a better Brampton.