“I’m not convinced it’s over,” said Mayor Bonnie Crombie back in October.
Crombie was referring to Mississauga’s separation plea from the Region of Peel, also known as #MissExit on social media. Her words accurately described the city’s ongoing bid for independence since earlier this year.
Reacting to the decision of keeping Mississauga as part of Peel, City Council passed a November 6 motion that would balance the cost-sharing of certain regional services. One such service includes the cost of Peel Regional Police, which represents 50 per cent of the Peel Region’s budget.
The City of Mississauga maintains that separating from the Peel Region would mean residents could obtain better value for their taxpayer dollars. The Budget Committee agenda from November states that Mississauga taxpayers are “overpaying for Peel Police Services by up to $69 million annually.”
The allocation formula, which is based on property assessment of Mississauga and Brampton, sees Mississauga paying 63.1 per cent of this cost, while Brampton only pays 36.9 per cent. According to the Budget Committee, amending this formula would mean that the “tax burden on Mississauga taxpayers would be reduced by $69 million.”
The council has made the case for Mississauga’s independence by arguing for greater control of the city’s priorities and future. The “one city, one voice” campaign urged Mississauga residents to voice their opposition to subsidizing Brampton and Caledon.
Earlier this year, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing conducted a review of governance, decision-making, and service-delivery functions of eight municipalities, including the Region of Peel. Mayor Crombie had hoped this review would result in Mississauga being recognized as a single-tier city and assuming responsibility for full-service delivery to its own citizens.
As Ontario’s third largest city, Mississauga has held the long-standing belief that being a single-tier city would increase its ability to “deliver faster, better, and more integrated decisions.”
Upon the province’s decision that there would be no changes to regional governance in Ontario, the first city council motion brought forward a report summarizing “the costs of Regional services such as Peel Regional Police for which Mississauga is paying more than its fair share, and recommendations for a method of reallocating costs, fairer for the taxpayers of Mississauga.”
According to the Budget Committee, Mississauga would pay nearly $84 million less for current services under the Region of Peel using a “single-tier model.” Most of these savings would be generated equitably by “assigning Peel Police costs to Brampton and Mississauga.”
The Ford government’s decision to stay in Peel was initially delivered with a funding announcement for municipalities, to help them “lower costs and improve services.” However, the $143 million pledge was not met with praise from City Council.
Mayor Crombie responded to Ford’s decision by saying the Ford government “lost their backbone to do the right thing for the right reasons,” adding that she felt “deeply, deeply disappointed” by the decision.
The unanimous November 6 motion also established a subcommittee responsible for reviewing regional agendas before each Region of Peel meeting, then reporting the information back to the council.
The motion further asked the province to allow Mississauga an “enhanced voting member.” This would double the number of votes for a designated council member in the event that another member is absent from a Regional Council meeting.
Allocation findings in the report on the Peel Regional Police budget were first published by an independent report by Ernst and Young. A Deloitte report from March also reported that Mississauga would financially benefit from leaving Peel, while Brampton would be negatively impacted.
The report stated that Mississauga would see an increase of $2.4 million in net assets, claiming that breaking up Peel region would generate $1,081 million in additional tax levies over the next 10 years.
Tensions have remained high following the October 25 announcement by the Ford Government that Peel Region would remain intact. Mayor Crombie has said that she intends to meet with Premier Ford to convince him that Mississauga should separate from Peel.