What’s involved with separating Mississauga, Brampton, Caledon from the Region of Peel?

Nick Westoll speaks with residents about the dissolution of the Region of Peel as experts talk about the potential challenges and opportunities associated with the decision.

As the Ontario government embarks on a process to dissolve the Region of Peel, experts say the process of creating standalone municipalities in Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon will be complex and public engagement will be key.

During an announcement at Queen’s Park on Thursday, Ontario Municipal Affairs and Housing (MAH) Minister Steve Clark confirmed the decision, if passed, will come into force on Jan. 1, 2025. After that date, the three communities will be standalone municipalities.

“My head is spinning at how complex this is going to be to untie this particular knot,” Zachary Spicer, an associate professor with York University and a former MAH staff member, told CityNews in response to the move.

“It has taken a long time for the province to formally get to this point primarily because there’s such a cascading array of challenges when it comes to dissolving a regional government. We really haven’t done that before in the province of Ontario.”

The Region of Peel is responsible for a variety of services across Brampton, Caledon and Mississauga. Services include police, paramedics, waste collection, water and wastewater, regional roads, public health and social services.

Large portions of property taxes collected in the three communities are sent to the Region of Peel. For instance, in Mississauga roughly 45 per cent of all taxes paid flow through to the regional municipality (the rest are split between the City of Mississauga and the Ontario government to pay for education).

“They deliver a lot of the services that the residents of Mississauga and Brampton rely on every single day,” Spicer said.

It’s going to be up to a transition board appointed by the Ontario government to determine how exactly the dissolution of the Region will happen.

“Today is the beginning of a very long journey to begin to sort of untangle what is a very complex and historic mix of services and financing and everything else,” Spicer said.


“A lot of people have said that this is like a divorce and certainly I think that that is somewhat of an apt analogy, but if you’ve been married for a very long time separating assets is tough but there’s also a lot of emotions that come along with that and this is certainly not something that is agreeable to all the parties within Peel Region.

“There is going to be a lot of hurt feelings, there’s going to be a lot of tension and managing that itself is going to be quite a challenge.”

While Spicer said this is the first time this is happening in Ontario, he said there are various existing models that could be used. Using roads as an example, Spicer pointed to how towns and counties in Ontario can enter into servicing agreements.

“There is a framework for that in place so Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon will have to walk down that road, but there is a precedent there in terms of water services and other hard surfaces,” he said.

Spicer said since local councillors also sit on regional council, it will likely also result in a governance review.

As for the potential positives, he said he didn’t expect significant financial costs or savings in operations going forward. Where there could be an impact is in decision-making itself.

“This clears a lot of administrative hurdles for them from a governance perspective. They didn’t have full autonomy over certain policy areas that was done at the regional level with a whole different group of staff. [Councillors] certainly had a say, but it’s much different to bring that entirely in-house,” Spicer said.

“I think that provides a little bit more freedom to sort of create policy differentiation between the different municipalities within the region.”

Residents CityNews spoke with on Thursday were largely supportive of the decision, but some wanted more information and expressed concerns about potential tax impacts.

Former head of City of Hamilton’s amalgamation urges fulsome planning, transparency

Marvin Ryder, an associate professor of marketing at McMaster University in Hamilton, served as chair of the transition board appointed after the Ontario government amalgamated six cities and towns within the former Regional Municipality of Hamilton-Wentworth into the new City of Hamilton.

Based on his experience working to set up a new municipality, Ryder echoed Spicer’s sentiments when it comes to how the Region of Peel’s assets will be divided up

“When I did this, we were just trying to come up with the fairest answer for everyone knowing that we couldn’t make everyone happy. We couldn’t maximize one person’s happiness to the detriment of another,” he recalled in an interview with CityNews on Thursday.

“I think there actually was more common than there was diversity.”

Ryder said if certain entities, such as the paramedic or police services, are split up, that will result in the creation of “expensive positions.”

“It will cost more to do this, but that’s got to be then offset by saying we’re going to have a better response by focusing on each community individually rather than getting lost in some regional arguments,” he said.

Ryder offered advice to whoever gets appointed to the Peel Region transition board.

“The first thing you have to make sure is that it’s absolutely seamless to the residents. In other words, on Jan. 2, if there’s a snowfall, the streets get plowed, the garbage gets picked up,” he said.

“My second tip or a piece of advice was we used our own staff. So as a good starting point, rather than hiring and spending $8 million on a big consulting firm that come in and tell you what to do, your staff have been delivering the service forever and if they know this is going to be the new reality start with their points of view… it’s a lot less expensive.

“The third piece of the puzzle was we were very clear on trying to be as transparent as possible … we had open houses where the residents could meet with the staff who are working on these plans, share their concerns and vice versa.”

Meanwhile, Spicer and Ryder both expressed concerns about Caledon given that area is a small fraction of the population of Brampton and Mississauga. They said it will likely require special assistance given the economies of scale as well as smaller population and tax base.

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