Brampton – 2040 Vision – Doug Bryden

The weekend workshop involving professional planners from here and beyond, dedicated City staff, and a group of talented and dedicated public contributors of their ideas and opinions, was a most worthwhile and thought provoking event. Discussions revolved around and focused on the following categories:

Environment

Transportation

Historic Downtown

Social

Arts and Culture

Economic Development

Bramalea

Community Character

 

At this event, CFBB spent a significant amount of time working on the Historic Downtown focus group, working with planners to incorporate some of our ideas which are well known in the community. Success was measured, but discussions on our input were respected, appreciated and recorded. We shall have to wait and see in early February next year whether we were able to convince those responsible for information assembly, analysis, and summarizing, that our focus, for example, on a pedestrian focus downtown and outer and inner ring road traffic controls will be considered of merit. It would appear that our desire to have the proposed University located downtown in the Rosalea Park area, and attached to the long awaited Riverwalk Etobicoke revitalization project, was supported by a number of other people. But, of course, the site location is really up to the University and other levels of government.

Takeaways from the weekend workshop:

1) The focus tended to interpret “Future Ready” as what we would like to see Brampton look like in 2040. So there was no real emphasis on a shorter time frame for the future – in other words discussing ideas and comments that could be implemented in the short term.

2) As we have been touting for the last three years particularly, the completion of the Riverwalk and the revitalization of the Etobicoke Creek from Church Street to Nanwood and beyond would unlock the redevelopment of the downtown by removing the flood plain threat and its restriction on meaningful construction and growth. The good news is that we learned that engineering plans are now moving quickly on Riverwalk and costing estimates are underway for a hoped for presentation to Council next March. And, the TRCA have been positively involved in the discussions.

3) The 77-23 imbalance of the Residential/Commercial assessment base, something that CFBB has had much to say about since our founding 5 years ago, is clearly recognized as a problem requiring a specific strategy in the short term to overcome its negative impact on the community. Brampton must focus on attracting commercial office development which in turn will provide work opportunities and jobs for Bramptonians who reside here but are employed elsewhere. Clearly, obtaining and providing excellent, fast and convenient transportation is essential which will allow Brampton to be seen as a legitimate alternative location for satellite, branch and head office facilities. GO upgrades, track electrification, and removal of freight traffic restrictions are absolutely key to any strategy to enhance our competitiveness.

In simple terms, Brampton must integrate all its social, economic and marketing thinking on less acceptance of “here there” (live work, the present status quo) to more “here here” in order to start to correct the assessment imbalance. And that appears to be recognized as a must focus.

4) As shown time and again over the weekend workshop, the resilience, the energy, the level of discourse, and the ideas and opinions expressed indicated an amazing enthusiasm for the future of Brampton as a local, Canadian, indeed international hub for innovation, education and opportunity. There was seemingly a melding of cultures focused on respect and a certain “constructive impatience” to get down to work, and make a difference.

Doug Bryden Co-Chair

CFBB’s response to Minister of Health announcement- November 9th, 2017

 

We are always pleased to hear when Brampton’s healthcare needs are being addressed.  However we need to acknowledge that if it wasn’t for Andrea Horvath leader of the Provincial NDP party, taking on Brampton’s dire healthcare situation, conducting  FOI’s to reveal the shocking #’s for lack of beds, the number of hallway patients and funding shortfalls at both BCH and PMC, we would probably not be seeing this “knee jerk” reaction by the Liberal government in full damage control from last week’s news headlines.  They are trying to fix a problem that they created, ignoring the warnings from many. Quite frankly this is too little too late.

The additional 37 temporary beds is more realistic than the 6 beds announced by the Health Minister just a few short weeks ago, angering many and was regarded as an insult to one of the most under-serviced cities for healthcare in Canada. Thankfully, we will now have a more responsible number of temporary beds to help cope with the upcoming flu season.

 

We also had the Minister of Health make an announcement to commit funding for Phase 2 of PMH, something that CFBB have been advocating for several years now. A vague announcement for “well over 100 beds” with no start date, no dollar amount and most importantly NO Emergency Department.  He even commented that he felt he was “designing this facility” when making his announcement.  It sure sounded like he was still designing most of his plans and funding commitments!  Is there a coincidence to the timing of yesterday’s healthcare motion put forward by Mayor Jeffrey and today’s surprise announcement?  Interesting to see how some negative media headlines and community backlash on social media gets the wheels in motion for commitments that should have been made years ago?

 

What we really need is for Peel Memorial to become a full service hospital that will cater to our growing needs. 100 – 130 beds is simply not enough for a city of our size and growth.  CFBB will continue to advocate for Phase 2 to be built with a minimum of 250 beds and a second ER department.  Plans need to be fast tracked through the Infrastructure Ontario process without further delay.

 

As well the announcement for a 3rd healthcare facility is something that Brampton Council, WOHC and the Central West LHIN have already been working together on to allocate the necessary lands for this future facility. Again no time lines or funds were announced today to help get this project moving forward. 

 

And finally, lets’ not forget that the property tax payers of Brampton have already been contributing $20 million towards Phase 2 of Peel Memorial.  This announcement makes no mention of this fact.  Once again an announcement that promises much, but is short on actual details for funding and timelines. 

  • We need to immediately address the $25 million shortfall in funding  at both Brampton Civic and Peel Memorial.
  • We require Phase 2 for Peel Memorial to be fast tracked through Infrastructure Ontario’s development process with plans for a minimum of 250  patient beds and a 24/7 Emergency Department.
  • We also need immediate funding commitments to begin the design process for a third healthcare facility to be located in N/W Brampton.  A facility that should be fully functional within a 15 year time frame.

Chris Bejnar and Doug Bryden

Co-Chairs CFBB

CFBB Opinion : Council’s proposed motion to hold media accountable June 14

Firstly, we fully support the freedom of the press and an open and transparent City Hall.

Overall we feel the Brampton Guardian has done a good job reporting on the important issues emanating from City Hall this term of Council.  As well, we feel that the media has played an important role in shaping the course of Brampton politics and history over the past few terms of Council.  Without the efforts of the Toronto Star, many important issues and scandals might not have been uncovered or exposed. We simply don’t have enough mainstream media outlets in Brampton to report on the daily issues that affect our growing and diverse city. Unlike other major Canadian cities, Brampton does not have its own TV or radio station. Our own Guardian has been incorporated into large conglomerate of community papers with offices located outside of our city with scarce resources to cover all of our issues.  Even articles covering important topics are streamlined and compressed  to fit in within a certain word count to make sure that there’s room for revenue generating advertisements.  Press conferences are a rare event and there is no question period like at Queens Park or Parliament Hill.  Even Rogers Cable 10, a staple for covering municipal politics will be shutting down next month after decades of local coverage. Most residents will now have to rely on social media and the internet to try and weed through the vast amounts information and disinformation available online.

We believe the media must be able to ask the tough questions of our elected officials and receive a timely response so that  politicians are held accountable. Having said that, the media also needs to accurately report and not selectively use quotes or statements that might be taken out of context. It must work both ways for our democratic system to function well so that we can trust both our media and government institutions.

As we have witnessed south of the border, a statement or comment can be interpreted quite differently by one side or the other and used to present a  favourable view or spin.  Lately terms like “fake news” and “alternative facts”  have regrettably entered our mainstream vocabulary. If you ask someone’s opinion on the street, there appears to be confusion and mistrust of the politicians and the media.  These days, most believe the truth might lie somewhere in the middle.

The motion that was tabled at Wednesday’s Committee of Council meeting we feel is unnecessary. Just because there might be an unfavourable slant or a quote taken out of context, doesn’t require a knee jerk and sudden response by Council. However, there needs to be a mechanism to ensure  that what happens at City Hall is as open and transparent as possible so that the media doesn’t present an alternate view of the events.

This is why it’s important that the city accelerates its plans to live stream and record both the Committee of Council and Council meetings on the City of Brampton website.  This will allow residents the opportunity  to view and decide for themselves if the media accurately report on events.  As well, minutes of all meetings should be per vadum and not simply someone’s interpretation of what was discussed around the Council table.  We are also supportive of the idea for Council to have an opportunity to clarify or comment on any media story as part of the meeting agenda. This could stir potentially healthy debate on important and sometimes controversial issues.

Finally, we believe that there has always been an adversarial relationship between politicians and the media.  This is nothing new. Without it, our democracy is threatened and trust eroded.

Chris Bejnar and Doug Bryden

Co-Chairs CFBB

CFBB OPINION – Ryerson/Sheridan University Announcement

We are pleased to hear that both Ryerson and Sheridan College have partnered to participate in Brampton’s University bid.

In the days ahead, it will be extremely important for this “transformational” infrastructure addition to be seen as a fundamental part of a new vision for Brampton and its future. That vision incorporates other infrastructure improvements and initiatives on hold or underway in the community that will see All Day, 2 Way GO service for the Kitchener GO line (Innovation Corridor), a significant Downtown GO Mobility Hub redevelopment with fast and reliable LRT service, and the completion of the Etobicoke Creek revitalization project (Riverwalk) which in turn will bring remediation to the Downtown Flood Plain which has so restricted the redevelopment and refreshment of the inner core of Brampton for so many years.

It is to be hoped that site selection will reinforce City building and planning directions already in place, taking into account catalytic and synergistic opportunities for the betterment of the community.

We believe that, given the present size of Brampton (610,000) and the explosive growth now being experienced, provincial funding commitments already announced will favour this community over others, and in keeping with Canada’s 9th largest City.

We would be remiss if we did not take this opportunity to thank the Mayor and everyone on the Blue Ribbon panel for their dedication and insightful work to bring a University to Brampton. It will be a “game-changer”.

Chris Bejnar and Doug Bryden

Co-Chairs – CFBB