DELEGATION – To Planning and Infrastructure Committee – City of Brampton – June 20, 2016
Chair Councillor Moore and Members of the Planning Committee
Thank you for the opportunity to address you today.
This meeting today is one that we at CFBB have been awaiting for some time. For it is the meeting to have staff respond to the Motion from Council that instructed them to study and analyse three potential LRT routes through Brampton to the Downtown GO Station, and to report their findings and recommendations. This report was then to be debated by Council with the potential of arriving at a decision on a preferred route which, presumably would then be the subject of an Environmental Study, including public participation and comment.
This reflects, of course the democratic process, for it is the responsibility of the elected Councillors to make an informed decision based on facts and analysis presented by staff. It is not, nor should it be, appropriate to have staff take it upon themselves to make decisions which they are not authorized to do and which rightly belong in the purview of the Council.
In our view, that simple, straight forward delineation of responsibility between the elected and staff often seems to get muddied here in Brampton. It was altogether prevalent in the last Council with respect to the City Hall expansion. And it seems to be happening now on the LRT file, with staff having worked with Metrolinx unbeknownst to Council to support a Main Street LRT route which blindsided Council when the announcement was made last year. That route had been overwhelmingly turned down by the last Council in a 10-1 vote, and, of course, it was turned down again by this Council. Then upon instruction by Council to analyse alternative routes, staff again decided to recommend the Main Street Downtown route, this time as a hugely expensive tunnel, not taking into account the reasons why the surface route had been rejected. Once again, Councillors were blindsided – once again the route was rejected, and once again time, energy and funds were wastefully expended.
Council then issued a directive to staff to look at three routes only – McLaughlin, Kennedy, and the Etobicoke Creek route, and report back in April. As part of the overall study and analysis, Council asked for an opinion from the TRCA on the Etobicoke Creek route. That opinion very recently communicated was to not support the Valley route.
From a reading of the Report, it is clearly evident that staff decided to exorcise any analysis of the Creek route from their report back to Council, directly in contravention of their obligation to report on the viability of the route, and denying Council their right to debate the route.
In our opinion, what should have happened in this report was for staff to prepare a detailed analysis of all three routes as they had been instructed to do, noting the benefits, advantages and disadvantages of each, and as well, noting that the TRCA were opposed to the Valley route. Instead, staff simply made an unauthorized decision which was not theirs to make. In fact, there is no detailed analysis on either of the two remaining routes.
Had the three routes been properly debated by Council, Council may have reached a conclusion that the Valley route was a non-starter. But, they had every right to prefer that route, and decide by majority vote to approach the TRCA with a creative solution and emergency mitigation plan, potentially funded, which might have allowed a different answer from the TRCA.
The report, now made public in advance of the June 20th meeting, has simply not made any detailed analysis, but simply recommended that the remaining two routes both be subjected to an Environmental Assessment at considerable cost. Time again will be lost, and the community will be short changed. What were staff doing with their time in response to Council’s directive?
In our opinion, staff did not do the job expected of them by both Council and the public interested in the LRT route selection. Further, we are of the opinion that Council should have had greater oversight of this most important piece of Brampton infrastructure. But blindsided they have been once again, not knowing what direction staff was taking, and how they were organized to accomplish the task at hand.
It is time to remind staff of their responsibilities, and either change their attitude or find new people who will be creative, sensitive to the community and taxpayer, and treat time with a sense of urgency. We simply cannot continue to condone complacency and an undeserved sinecure of position.
Doug Bryden – Co-Chair – CFBB