Durham Chair says Region sticking together amid Peel split

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Published May 19, 2023 at 8:10 am

Durham Region Chair John Henry

The eight municipalities of Durham Region are sticking together even as other regions such as Peel are coming apart at the seams, declared Durham Chairman John Henry.

The Doug Ford government announced Thursday it was dissolving Peel Region after weeks of hints and swirling rumours, with advisors being appointed to weigh in on the need to do the same in other upper-tier municipalities in Halton, Niagara, York and Durham regions.

The provincial government said it would make Mississauga, Brampton, and Caledon independent municipalities by 2025, an impending split that has been both acrimonious – both Mississauga and Brampton claimed to have propped up the other – and humorous, with Caledon Mayor Annette Groves likening the break-up to a divorce. “I know were the child in this marriage, but the children get to speak too.”

Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie

Henry released a statement following the Peel Region announcement stressing “there have been no concerns raised about the size or structure” of Durham.

“Our Region, and the eight local municipalities, have a productive and strong track record of working together to serve our residents,” he said. “Together, we provide the backbone of service delivery in a two-tier structure that ensures services are planned, funded, and delivered in a cost-effective manner; and on a large geographic scale.”

The two-tiered structure allows the Regional government to provide many services to residents, Henry said, without duplicating municipal efforts. “Together, we maintain Durham’s reputation as a community where equitable, high-quality services are available to everyone.”

The Region and its municipalities will keep working together to address “common challenges” and to prepare for future meetings with the provincially appointed facilitators, the Regional Chair said.

“Durham is about partnerships. Municipal representatives who work together to help preserve the strong connection we have to our hometowns. A place where we work to create clearly defined regional and local roles and responsibilities; processes that strengthen governance and service delivery in our communities.”

Henry said he looks forward to talking to the facilitators about housing responsibilities in Durham, “and all of the work that is done to ensure we remain a location of choice for residents and businesses.”

Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark announced in November that he would appoint facilitators to assess six regional governments – including Durham – and look at the best mix of roles between upper-tier and lower-tier municipalities with an eye to expanding “strong mayor” powers beyond Toronto and Ottawa.

On Thursday, Clark and the Conservative government introduced the Hazel McCallion Act, which, if passed, would begin the process to dissolve Peel Region and make the municipalities of Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon independent.

Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown

Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie has been pushing for her city to go it alone, saying it will save the municipality $1 billion over 10 years and make it more efficient.

Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown has said he would welcome efforts to remove duplication but believes Mississauga would owe Brampton under any separation because of the infrastructure residents have funded for Mississauga.

During Thursday’s announcement a feud between Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie and Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown seemed to play out with each accused of “making faces” while the other was speaking.

With files from Glenn Hendry

 

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