Newly minted Brampton Mayor Linda Jeffrey is so concerned about the state of her city's finances and accountability that she plans to invite the former provincial auditor-general and the Ontario Ombudsman to conduct investigations in the municipality.
In her inauguration speech on Monday night at City Hall, Ms. Jeffrey said she will introduce a motion in council to have former Ontario auditor-general Jim McCarter determine the true state of revenues and reserves. Ms. Jeffrey confirmed she has invited Ontario Ombudsman André Marin to look at how city hall functions and make recommendations on improving accountability and transparency.
"Events over the past year have given many in our community concern over how city hall is run," she told hundreds of residents who packed into council chambers for her speech. "Working together, I hope to be able to drop the baggage of the past and focus on issues of tomorrow."
The city has been mired in controversy for nearly two years: the previous mayor and members of council were caught in a spending scandal, a developer alleges in a lawsuit that he was excluded from bidding on a lucrative development deal, and Brampton's bookkeeping has been called into question.
"It is my understanding from discussions with senior staff that our financial position is far worse than we have been led to believe," Ms. Jeffrey said.
Mr. Marin's investigation of Brampton is pending as Bill 8, a provincial law that would grant the ombudsman's office greater powers to investigate Ontario municipalities, makes its way through the provincial legislature.
Earlier in the year, Brampton's integrity commissioner and third-party auditors Deloitte Canada investigated the expenses of members of council after freedom of information requests revealed councillors and the former mayor may have broken spending rules. Both reports were scathing, and were initially cast aside by council, which voted to use an arbitration process to determine how much they would pay back the city.
Ms. Jeffrey said that, based on conversations with other councillors, she is confident she has the support for the investigations and that reports will not be sidelined.