Citing improved customer service and cost savings for residents, Mississauga councillors have made their case for separating from Peel Region.
Hundreds attended a town hall meeting Monday night to hear the pitch, and have their say.
Mayor Bonnie Crombie is backing the plan, saying that a city of nearly 800,000 people should be able to be independent.
“We’re hopeful that this time the third largest city in Ontario can stand on its own two feet and govern our own affairs, much the way cities line Windsor, Hamilton, Guelph, Thunder Bay, Sudbury and even tiny Dryden, Ont., do,” she said.
Some residents at the meeting expressed concerns over how separation would affect city services, affordable housing and taxation.
Mississauga council said it considered amalgamation with its two counterparts — Brampton and Caledon — to form one large city, but instead ultimately voted to ask the province to separate.
“The reality is, Mississauga taxpayers (and) businesses subsidize Brampton and Caledon to the tune of $85 million each and every year, and that’s money I want reinvested in Mississauga to our own key priorities,” Crombie explained.
But not everyone is on board.
Sue Shanley, chair of the Mississauga Residents Association, said more information needs to be collected before a decision this big can be made.
“There’s just not enough data at this point in time to make a fulsome decision,” she said.
As well, concerns were raised over some findings in a report commissioned by Peel Region that directly contradict Mississauga’s data.
Mayor Crombie said her council and staff were never consulted for the report.
“We disagree with many of the assumptions made in the Deloitte report,” Crombie told the crowd. “It assumes, for instance, there would have to be two police boards. We don’t agree with that. There’s no problem with the way the Peel police board operates today. They also make the point that there would be efficiencies of merging Parks and Recreation. we would never do that.”
The mayors of both Brampton and Caledon are opposed to the idea of a divorce with Mississauga.
Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown has suggested that Mississauga would owe Brampton after the separation because of the years his city’s taxes went toward Mississauga.
Allan Thompson, the mayor of Caledon, said he doesn’t believe there’s a problem that needs to be fixed.
“I struggle to see the problem we’re trying to fix,” he said in a statement.
“The Region of Peel is a well-managed and award winning level of government.”
In the end, it will be up to the provincial government to decide if Mississauga will be able to separate.
The province is currently undergoing a review of nine municipalities across Ontario, including Peel, York and Durham region, which is expected to wrap up in June.