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Brampton's Mayor Patrick Brown, pictured in March 13, 2022, has released information showing that a plan to dissolve the Peel Region could cost local taxpayers an extra $1.3-billion over 10 years and require property taxes to rise. The mayor said the costs detailed in a report would require taxes to increase by 17 per cent in Mississauga, 34 per cent in Brampton and 256 per cent in Caledon.CARLOS OSORIO/Reuters

Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown has released new numbers that he argues show the Ontario government’s plan to dissolve Peel Region could cost local taxpayers an extra $1.3-billion over 10 years and require property taxes to rise sharply, particularly in his municipality and in Caledon.

Mr. Brown, a vocal critic of the plan to break up Peel, released numbers that update a 2019 study from accounting and consulting firm Deloitte with 2023 dollar figures. The study looked at the financial impact on Peel Region’s three member municipalities – Brampton, Caledon and Mississauga – if they were made independent. About 1.5 million people live in the region, located west of Toronto.

The mayor said the added costs detailed in the report would require taxes to increase by 17 per cent in Mississauga, 34 per cent in Brampton and 256 per cent in Caledon, which is expected to experience rapid growth, requiring new roads, pipes and other infrastructure, but which has a much smaller tax base than the other two communities. On average, Mr. Brown says, the added costs are the equivalent of a 38-per-cent “one-time” tax increase across the region.

“We never asked for the Region of Peel to be dissolved. We have always asked for redundancy to be removed. The independent financial analysis clearly shows the net result would be a financial disaster for Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon,” Mr. Brown says in a press release distributed on Friday. “It would result in the largest tax increase in Peel Region’s history.”

He urges the province and the transition board it set up to oversee the dissolution of Peel Region to take a look at the numbers and revisit the decision, calling it a ”financial train wreck” that would be “an albatross around the necks of taxpayers in Peel Region.”

Move to dissolve Peel Region reflects shift away from regionalism in Ontario, experts say

The mayor also says he is hearing concerns that the dissolution of Peel is causing “instability” and making it harder to recruit and retain staff in its ambulance service.

Justine Teplycky, a spokeswoman for Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Paul Calandra, said the Peel transition board is continuing its work but must ensure “that we are protecting the financial sustainability of these municipalities in a fair and equal manner while ensuring the continuation of high-quality services for taxpayers and improving the efficiency of local governments.”

“Our focus must remain on doing everything we can to meet our ambitious goal of building at least 1.5 million homes by 2031,” she said.

The province has not worked out how Peel Region’s existing services – which include social housing, garbage collection, policing, as well as regional roads, and water and sewer systems – would be divided among the three member municipalities. Some services were expected to remain shared, governed by boards, though how the bills would be split remains contentious.

Brampton’s Deloitte numbers assume Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon would continue to share water and sewer systems. But the study accounted for the need to split up Peel Regional Police and create separate police forces in Mississauga and Brampton. (Caledon already relies on the Ontario Provincial Police for local law enforcement.)

A source involved with the Peel transition process said that the working assumption during negotiations between the board and all three municipalities is that Peel Regional Police would not be broken up.

The Globe and Mail is not naming the source, who was not authorized to publicly disclose details of that process.

The dissolution of the region has been a key policy pushed by Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie and her predecessor, long-time mayor Hazel McCallion, who died earlier this year. Mr. Ford’s government confirmed it would dissolve Peel in the spring, introducing legislation. But the government has paused plans to redraw other regional governments that surround Toronto – Halton, York and Durham – and put them under review.

Ms. Crombie, now running for the Ontario Liberal leadership, had argued that Mississauga taxpayers were footing too much of the bill for Peel Region, particularly as Caledon and Brampton continue to require expanded infrastructure to grow.

In a statement, Ms. Crombie called Mr. Brown’s figures “a political stunt” and said he is trying to circumvent a process that is already under way and working. She said none of the numbers quoted have been validated by the transition board, Mississauga, Peel Region or Caledon.

Caledon Mayor Annette Groves said in an e-mailed statement that her region is meeting with officials in Peel, Brampton and Mississauga to understand what is required for dissolution and is “committed to finding solutions that ensure the financial viability of all three municipalities.”

“The Deloitte study makes assumptions that we just don’t know are true. We will continue working with our partners for the best outcome for Caledon,” she said.

The new push against the end of Peel is being made after Mr. Ford’s government has reversed itself on a series of policies, including its plan to allow housing on parts of the protected Greenbelt – now the subject of an RCMP investigation.

Nando Iannicca, regional chair of Peel who was specially appointed by the government, said he couldn’t comment on the numbers as he hasn’t seen the specifics. But he said there is “no question whatsoever there’s going to be ramifications to dissolution.”

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