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Citizens for a Better Brampton

June 14, 2017

Corporation of the City of Brampton,

2 Wellington Street West,

BRAMPTON, ON L6Y 4R7

Attention: Mayor Linda Jeffrey & Members of City Council

CFBB Brampton Vision – Worth a serious review

Here are some thoughts that are generally not new, but nonetheless have not been given adequate discussion regarding their individual merits, in our opinion.

As an introduction, Brampton’s growth is exploding, and greenfield land availability is in short supply. The emphasis is on residential construction which only worsens our reliance on residential assessment (now at 77%) to fund our municipal operations and local infrastructure capital needs. Brampton has long been a bedroom community for Mississauga and Toronto, reinforced by improved transit options like LRT and GO transportation connections to the commercial offices of those centres. The hope is that with improved connections, it will allow Brampton to become attractive for the commercial development that we so badly need.

As well, Brampton’s diversity in culture and population is making relationships with other emerging market countries like India a splendid opportunity for growth if we take advantage of it.

Negatives holding back commercial office growth development in Brampton:

1) Little market demand because of strength of demand in Mississauga and Toronto particularly (Brampton considered a bedroom community).

2) Slow improvements in frequency of ALL DAY 2 WAY GO service to Toronto.

3) Insufficient higher level government infrastructure funding commitments.

4) Inadequate commitment to funding hospital needs.

5) Poor and questionable Municipal leadership at political and administrative levels, and the overhang of a major lawsuit against the City over the handling of the “competitive dialogue” procurement process and the implementation of the City Hall expansion project.

6) Flood plain exposure and controls impacting entire downtown and its redevelopment.

7) Neanderthal thinking at the TRCA and their compunction to just say no to creative use of valleys and ravines.

8) Brampton bypassed for HSR (High Speed Rail) station stop that will connect Toronto to Windsor and the Innovation Technology Corridor.

9) Lingering negative reputation of cultural diversification.

 

Positive aspects driving community forward and countering negatives:

1) Exponential growth in population – 9th largest City in Canada and 3rd largest in the GTHA.

2) Although not providing any new hospital beds or a second ER, the opening of the new Peel Memorial Centre for Integrated Health and Wellness, with an Urgent Care Centre, will hopefully take some of the pressure away from Brampton Civic, one of the busiest ER’s in the country.

3) Breadth of the dynamics of cultural diversification and opportunities presented in emerging markets around the world.

4) The close proximity to Pearson International Airport, a world class hub facility catering to airlines around the world with convenient, frequent and direct flights to destinations far and wide.

5) The recent announcement of a new University planned for Brampton, situated close to downtown and adjacent to the Innovation Corridor.

6) Environmental Assessments approved and underway regarding alternative routes for the extension of the LRT to the Brampton Downtown GO station from the Gateway Terminal at Steeles Avenue.

7) Political alignment of all three levels of government representation

 

CFBB (Citizens for a Better Brampton) Vision for Brampton

(CFBB, formed 6 years ago because of the concern about the misadventures of the Municipal government and the City Hall expansion project)

1) Downtown Brampton has a rich history of successful entrepreneurship and agricultural pursuits which are still evident today in its inner core, with retail facades and heritage structures abounding reflecting its early and vibrant life, first as a farming and mill community, blossoming with the advent of rail connections and eventually now, as the municipal and administrative heart of the wider community, with government, museum, art gallery and theatre facilities. Its growth outside the inner City has been dramatic, and has assumed a modern somewhat atypical urban appearance of residential subdivisions, shopping centres and Malls, and the usual fast food establishments kept alive by the car and sprouting condominium towers nearby. Roads in grid pattern crisscross the landscape and the integration of highways show our commitment to high speed connections and the busyness of society today. Convenient rail and transit connections and frequencies are a constant topic of conversation, as efforts are made to wean us off the reliance on the car – with limited success, even with the much promised guarantee of infrastructure funding.

This picture of our urban landscape, thankfully punctuated by ravines, valleys, and flowered parkettes, is not dissimilar to many Canadian towns across the country. But what is perhaps different, is our simple, now less vibrant inner core, waiting all too patiently for the sound of renewal and refreshment, and excited voices carrying labelled bags scurrying from stores and shops, cafes, bistros and restaurants that provide animation and purpose. And, perhaps the sight of those who bring with them the elan of youth from a nearby university of innovation and creative thinking, mingling with the erstwhile visitor, the destination shopper, and the downtown resident simply undertaking the weekly trip for groceries and servicing needs, will recharge the batteries of yesterday’s heritage, the backbone – indeed the foundation – of earlier downtown Brampton. And together with architecturally sensitive and integrated new development and renovation, our inner core will once again be the attraction that it once was, but this time focused on the pedestrian, safely sequestered from the conflict with buses, cars, and delivery trucks, gridlock exhaust fumes, but easily served by convenient parking in all four quadrants of the downtown.

Yes, this is what our downtown Brampton could become, capitalizing on its heritage to provide the foundation for innovative development of hotels, residences, and destination and service shopping both streetside and sheltered galleria between City Hall and the Downtown GO Mobility Hub, along with environmentally designed and functioning offices for small and creative business for fledgling entrepreneurs and already successful enterprises.

 

And how could this happen?

1) Create a Downtown Redevelopment Committee or Tsar to oversee all aspects of the renewal, renovation, and refreshment of the Inner core, reporting directly to the City Councillors, with City Planning representation.

2) Ensure that the City will instigate the availability of expropriation procedures to encourage potential property holdouts to be reasonable in sale for the greater good.

3) Prepare an overall Plan for the area which would include developer and architectural inputs, public consultation, and appropriate involvement by all property owners, with appropriate City Hall approvals with time schedule respect and commitment

4) City Hall commitment to a schedule for implementation of basic catalytic public investments, including funding from other levels of government if possible and available

5) Municipal approval of a fair and standard procurement process for calling for private proposals for the development of various land uses as outlined in the Plan, such as hotel, condo, rental apartments, office, parking and retail opportunities

6) Instigate a ring road concept that would encourage non-inner core traffic to circumvent downtown by using an outer ring route – Steeles, Kennedy, Williams and McLaughlin and back to Steeles, thus reducing the gridlock occurring downtown at present

7) For those destined for the inner core and immediately surrounding area, because they live, work, want to shop, or visit, instigate an inner ring – Wellington, Chapel, Nelson, George and back to Wellington – for bus and car traffic, with convenient car parking in underground garages in all four quadrants (three are already built and operating), and one hugely expanded parking facility at the Downtown GO Mobility Hub.

8) Choose to extend the LRT north from Steeles in the centre of Main Street to Nanwood, then tunnel the tracks below the Etobicoke Valley for 1.3 km to the Peel Memorial Centre at Queen, and then elevate the line along Queen West, (joining the future Queen Street LRT) and run it adjacent to the CN Rail line to stop at the Downtown GO Mobility Hub.

9) This LRT routing would have the benefit of serving the new University conveniently and directly if the new University chooses the Rosalea site. As well, the underground excavation through the Valley would produce the soil necessary to berm the sides of the Etobicoke diversion channel designed as a River Walk, and remove the downtown exposure to the flood plain, allowing economical redevelopment to occur in the inner core. And further, it would allow the removal of the garbage dump now grassed over in Centennial Park, with infrastructure improvements completed at the same time, assuming appropriate funding from senior levels of government is committed and available.

10) To preserve the historic look and the heritage properties within the inner core, it is important to redevelop the core with complete sensitivity architecturally, environmentally and technologically. Intensive development needs to be focused on the periphery, such as at the GO Hub or on the west side of George, or on the north side of Nelson, both east and west of Main Street. As well, high density, mixed use projects need to be concentrated at LRT stations so that ridership can be optimized. That suggests that major increases in commercial assessment will have to come from the areas immediately surrounding the LRT stations – at Steeles and Main, at Nanwood and Main, at the Peel Memorial Health & Wellness Centre at Queen and Centre, and at the Downtown GO Mobility Hub.

11) The re-enforcement of the downtown heart of Brampton with new development and renovation of existing structures for re-use will provide a western anchor for the Bramalea City Centre at Dixie and Queen Streets, which would become the eastern anchor of a heavily developed Queen Street corridor, already planned for intensification by City Planning. Increases in commercial assessment can be easily projected with a fair degree of certainty.

 

Conclusion:

Should Brampton choose to accept this vision to shape its future, the following would be accomplished:

1) Brampton would become a world leader in City building for its inner city renewal, reflecting and preserving its past and melding it seamlessly into a new and extraordinarily relevant present and future.

2) Brampton would have rejected trends for starting fresh in City building on open fields, and have recognized that cities are best to preserve their soul, their past, their heritage, their beginnings and use them to champion their future path, their completeness as an evolving urban area of changing attitudes and decisions, and reflecting the trials and tribulations, the good and the not so good for all to see and experience. In other words, showcasing the evolution of our City and its residents.

3) Brampton would be seen to represent a different urban experience at its core, one with character and interest, one that celebrates the pedestrian in the urban core, a sometime throwback to early Scandinavian and European examples that are a delight to the tourist today.

4) Brampton would be seen as a place which shaped its own future by making decisions which reflected the wishes of those who actually inhabit the place and understand how it works, its past, and what its future can be, not dictated to by the insensitive, unknowing and uncaring politicos who see Brampton as a dot on the map, to be connected to other dots on the map with little similarity or commonality by a straight line, spending recklessly taxpayer dollars over which they have stewardship but no responsibility, mortgaging future generations with gay abandon.

Wow! What a vision! Can it be accomplished? Yes, it can. But it will take the commitment of champions working in harmony, with funding and leadership capability to market the concept.

Respectfully submitted,
Doug Bryden – Co-Chair – CFBB

www.cfbb.ca

 


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