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At its first regular meeting of City Council on December 10th, Mayor Jeffrey’s leadership style was on display for all to see. Surprisingly few were in attendance in the gallery, but it became clear that things at Council were changing. At the onset, Mayor Jeffrey stood up and read a prayer – it was not the Lord’s Prayer that we have been so accustomed to. It was an inclusive prayer that could be accepted by all. Apparently, the Lord’s Prayer had been ruled as discriminatory by the Supreme Court way back in 1990, and decision confirmed by Appeal, as not consistent with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. But Brampton had not acceded to it because there had not been any complaints. Jeffrey, along with a majority in Council, had felt that this was the right time to institute the change and be in conformance with the majority of governments elsewhere. To those unhappy with the change, and there were (and are) some, she was prepared to explain her reasons, and did so.

Her previous Council experience of many years ago allowed her to move through the Agenda items with measured speed, with everyone respecting process and protocol to the letter. The atmosphere was business-like, patient, thorough, and motions presented, seconded and voted on efficiently and unanimously.

The most important motion was the unanimous decision to reduce the annual salary of the Mayor to reflect comparative jurisdictions, with the Mayor’s salary not to exceed that of the Premier of the Province. This decision reflected her commitment to do so made in her election promise during the run up to the election. That was good to see.

The remaining agenda items were of the routine variety, not controversial, and passed swiftly, suggesting that all Councillors had briefed themselves in advance before the meeting. And then came the time for a 15 minute question period, where those with a question on an agenda item could have five minutes to comment. As a result of questions asked and suggestions made by two speakers, the Councillor name signs in front of their seats at the Council table will include their particular Ward, and serious consideration will be given to change some of the Council meeting times to the evening to be less of a hardship on those who work during the day and who lose wages when they must attend in the afternoons. That too, is a good sign, because it shows that this Mayor and Council are listening to reasonable public suggestions for transparency and convenience to the public.

When one delegate ran out of time for his presentation, the Mayor requested Council to agree to a second 15 minute public question period and received unanimous approval, and handled the less than respectful behaviour of the delegate with aplomb.

All in all, it appeared to this writer that the new Mayor and Council were off to a very good start.


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04. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Uncategorized
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City Hall Expansion – CFBB came into existence in 2012 because a small group of concerned citizens were unhappy with the proposal call and contract award for the City Hall expansion. The secrecy and lack of transparency and accountability we believed, was not appropriate for procurement procedures in the public domain. Since that time, we have watched with much consternation construction methodology, lack of site plan approvals, architectural design inconsistencies, by-law changes to accommodate a development that was too large for the site, time frame delays, and cost and lease commitments which seemed to us to be not in the best interests of the Brampton taxpayer. We have tried on numerous occasions to access basic information on the project and its progress from City staff, only to be met by a wall of silence. The politicians, strangely and surprisingly, seemed to be either indifferent or unable to access information either, and we were forced to appeal to the Freedom of Information Ontario office to find solace.

The project is way behind schedule. Substantial completion has not been reached, and we have been unable to find out whether the City will have access to penalty compensation for timely delivery failure. And, now, Dominus, the firm that won the original contract award, has sold its interest to another firm – Fengate. It is looking more and more like Brampton has been fleeced.

CFBB are hopeful that Rust-D’Eye, a special forensic consultant appointed by the City to review the entire project, including the original award and its present status, will shortly report and answer a wide variety of questions that we have had since the project started. It cannot come soon enough for us and the citizens of Brampton.

 

Peel Memorial – CFBB is pleased that construction is now well underway on the old hospital site downtown, and all reports at this time indicate a construction completion and an opening in late 2016 is on schedule.

The Health & Wellness facility will focus its activities on wellness as opposed to sickness, and will concentrate on ambulatory services, day surgeries and elective procedures, and diagnostic analyses. Any emergency patients will be stabilized, and if necessary, be transferred to Brampton Civic where traditional beds will be available.

The overall cost for this facility is significant, and will be paid for mostly by other government levels. Taxes on the Brampton property owner, along with foundation grants and fund raising activities, will look after the approximately $40 M that will required for the first phase. Future phases, when they are instigated, will require additional local funding.

We encourage all Bramptonians to financially support this new facility when the opportunity arises.

Further detail on the project can be found at the Peel Memorial web page link: www.williamoslerhs.ca

 

LRT for Brampton – As most Bramptonians know, Brampton is to get LRT (Light Rail Transit) in the relatively near future, with a line traversing Hurontario St. from and to Mississauga. What has not been decided is the routing of the rail line north of Steeles. Brampton political and staff inputs to the discussion have not been definitive, and consultant reports have either not been complete or are still outstanding. For instance, a detailed Traffic Impact Study is absolutely needed to allow a fulsome discussion to take place.

The CFBB position is as follows:

  • The route must ensure that the optimum number of citizens are conveniently served,
  • The route must encourage maximum redevelopment and increased assessment,
  • The route must respect the downtown heritage district, with consideration given to below grade tunneling
  • The route must minimize crossover conflict with car and pedestrian traffic
  • The route must allow for convenient access to the new Peel Memorial Centre.
  • The Traffic Study should consider limiting through traffic along Main Street to downtown destination traffic only by developing an inner (at Wellington) and outer ring road (at Steeles) system, allowing unhindered bus transit and pedestrians maximum freedom in the downtown.

CFBB will continue to monitor progress on this really essential piece of infrastructure for the future of growth in Brampton.


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12. November 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Uncategorized
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Brampton Municipal Election 2014 Commentary

Doug Bryden

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.

Conclusion

CFBB congratulates all successful candidates, and looks forward to a bright future ahead under their leadership and commitment.


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15. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Uncategorized
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The recent news in the Toronto Star has come as a shock to Brampton residents. Documents have been released that show Mayor Susan Fennell used City staff and resources to organize her annual gala, golf tournament and “spirit team”. These revelations are all the more shocking to Bramptonians after Mayor Fennell went on record saying that “There are no property taxpayer dollars used by Stepping Out For Brampton Inc. to put on the Gala,” to the Brampton Guardian.

 

One concerned citizen wrote in asking if City staff have a code of conduct they must adhere to. If not, is it now time for one?

 

Case for a Code of Conduct?

 

The question I have to ask  (by-the-way I don’t Tweet) is if the Mayor’s staff “answers to the Mayor” as Mr. C has stated, who pays their salary?

 

I am employed in a municipal, political office, I am paid by the City that employs me, I respond to a Code of Conduct that is clearly defined, I do not answer to the politician I work for!  I perform an administrative function for which I am paid out of the taxpayers pocket – should I be asked to perform any task outside of the Code of Conduct, I have the absolute Right to refuse without penalty – I have a Respectful Workplace Policy to protect me.  I do not work on campaigns, I am not permitted to solicit money in the politicians name; I am not permitted gifts or gratuities of any kind; however, I do perform, above and beyond in an official capacity on behalf of the work my politician does for the community in the name of the municipality.

 

The fault is not necessarily with the Mayor of Brampton, albeit, she takes advantage of all and every situation through intimidation, and handsome travel rewards and perks for her staff on our dollar; however, senior staff at the City of Brampton defend her only because they are incompetent in their duties and should be held to task for not having the appropriate protections in place such as defined Policies and Codes – they are derelict in their duties and should deal with protecting the taxpayer with appropriate governance, codes and policies.

 

Just sayin’

A Concerned Brampton Citizen

 

UPDATE:

It’s come to our attention that there is a Code of Conduct in place covering Council and staff. It is unclear what this wasn’t followed as this situation appears to be in breech of the Conflict of Interest Act. More information can be found on the City of Brampton website here.


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