Brampton Municipal Election 2014 Commentary
The 2014 Brampton Municipal election results are now certified, and the outcome declared. Three long standing Councillors retired and did not run. Three former Councillors ran and were defeated. One former Councillor ran for Mayor and was unsuccessful, and the Mayor, Susan Fennell lost her seat around the Council table. The overall landscape at City Hall has changed dramatically, with fully six new faces and a new Mayor elected to lead Council and fulfill the next four year term. Voter turnout improved slightly over the 2010 election (36.20% to 33.13%), not a very good showing for Canada’s 9th largest City.
CFBB (Citizens for a Better Brampton) wants to go on record as congratulating all successful candidates, and thank those who offered themselves for election, but whose vote totals fell short of the goal.
To those councillors who were returned, we trust that they have been refreshed and re-energized, and that they will actively participate in informed discussion of all Brampton issues while offering help and assistance to the new members of council just elected.
To those new councillors who are understandably euphoric over election success, we wish them well, and encourage them to focus in the near term on educating themselves on civic administrative operations, on meeting procedures, and on policy responsibilities.
To the office of mayor, we have every expectation that the yoke of office will not be a burden, and that as the new role of leadership is assumed, and, by leading by example, there will be a focus on integrity, respect for each other and the public purse, transparency, accountability, fairness, and building consensus amongst and with the entire council team.
The Immediate Future
In our opinion, there is much unfinished business to concentrate early energies on in the City. Particularly, here are some issues that need immediate attention:
Entitlement – It is essential that the Mayor-Elect and the new and returned Councillors understand that it is an honour and privilege to represent the public. They must pay more than lip service to the Code of Conduct, eliminate that sense of entitlement that was so all pervasive with the last Council, and realize that ethical performance matters if trust is to become the hallmark of this new Council.
Brampton Image – The last few years in particular have seen the image of Brampton tarnished and foundering due to the poor and ill-considered judgements of the Council and staff, projects undertaken with inadequate monitoring of delivery dates and budgets, and procurement procedures of questionable merit. Closer attachment to process and holding staff to account when illicit and improper actions are discovered should result in expedited staff employment termination. It will take time and energy to restore the Brampton brand, particularly in the GTA, but it is essential that actions and decisions be taken quicly to start the recovery.
City Hall Expansion – This Council needs to get to the bottom of this historic blunder of demonstrated incompetence quickly, and act on forensic reports already underway when submitted to assuage the public clamor and so as not to inadvertently take ownership of this ill-thought through development in the downtown – a legacy of uncommon soul destruction.
Peel Memorial Health and Wellness Centre – Brampton taxpayers are being asked to invest at least $120 Million to assure this service is available within the City. The property owner is going to demand open and transparent monitoring of development and construction costs to ensure they are getting value for their contribution. An oversight role for Council on progress and communication to the population is essential.
LRT for Brampton – It is really important, indeed critical, that Brampton be satisfied that this essential piece of infrastructure results in the optimization of tax and assessment benefits to the City in route selection and the preservation of its heritage district. Detailed traffic studies are imperative, and Council must set policy to allow City staff to give appropriate input before final decisions are reached.
Relationships with other levels of Government – In the recent past, the relationships have been at best tense and at worst almost non-existent, resulting in Brampton not receiving appropriate attention by senior funding sources and in keeping with the exploding growth that has occurred within the community. This Council must repair the damage forthwith with both the Federal and Provincial governments.
A University for Brampton – For a town the size of Brampton, a special and immediate effort must be placed on landing a University campus. Downtown would be an ideal location, for it would act as a catalyst for additional development.
Flood Plain – The lack of a realistic solution for the Flood Plain has been an ongoing irritant for the City for many years. It acts as a challenge to future development planning in downtown Brampton, and the possibility of incorporating parks, river walks with water features, and art sculptures and displays to create an attractive ambience for the pedestrian can only be imagined.
The challenges ahead for this new council are significant. However, CFBB has every confidence that substantial progress can and will be made over the next term of office.
Outgoing Mayor Fennell
CFBB would like to thank outgoing Mayor Susan Fennell for her considerable contributions to and accomplishments over the years to the City of Brampton. We do wish her well wherever her future leads.
CFBB congratulates all successful candidates, and looks forward to a bright future ahead under their leadership and commitment.