Live City Check-In-One-on-One avec le maire Patrick Brown, Brampton, ON

Patrick Brown, maire de la ville de Brampton (Ontario), se joint à Mary W. Rowe, animatrice de l'IUC, dans le cadre de notre série de conversations individuelles.

5 Les clés
à retenir

Un tour d'horizon des idées, thèmes et citations les plus convaincants de cette conversation franche.

1. Transparency is critical during COVID-19

According to Mayor Brown, “the best tool you can give the public is transparency during a pandemic. Don’t try to tell [the public] stories, be as transparent as possible.” The Mayor discussed the use of heat maps produced by Public Health to show where people were impacted across the city as well as weekly town halls to provide Brampton residents with ongoing COVID-19 updates.

2. Commitment to Transit

“If you build a good transport system, people will use it,” stated Mayor Brown with regard to plans for the City of Brampton’s transit system. He discussed gradual improvements to Brampton’s transit system including an electric bus pilot project in which the busses are recharged while picking up passengers. Mayor Brown also discussed an initiative aimed to enhance active transportation within Brampton. He said, “you build a city for people, not for cars. And so, we passed a motion that for every new road built in Brampton, they have to justify it if they can’t put active transportation as a part of it.”

3. Reopening should have a health timetable, not a political one

Mayor Brown discussed the importance of prioritizing a safe reopening for the City of Brampton. “I think if you look at the lessons from the US, a rushed reopening could cause more chaos and relapse.” He also discussed the political pressures associated with reopening, highlighting that “one of our worries was that there’ll be a reopening in the province that will be dictated by a political timetable, not by a health timetable.”

4. The Next 100 Days

Mayor Brown highlighted his top three priorities for the City of Brampton in the next 100 days: ensuring the public continues to adhere to the public health measures, reopening of businesses in a safe manner, and ensuring there are adequate funds for continuing to provide essential services to the public. He highlighted that municipalities fund a multitude of essential services including public health and said, “the notion that any of those services would have to curtail in a pandemic is preposterous. But we could be in that position if we don’t get some financial assistance.”

5. Race and Policing in Brampton

In response to racism, policing and community safety, Mayor Brown remarked “this is a unique moment in history where I think there’s a real momentum and willingness to confront systemic racism.” He also discussed the breaking down of barriers and highlighted that the new Chief of Police, Nishan Duraiappah, is the first big city chief of police of South Asian descent. He said, “one of the reasons that we selected him was I thought he would do policing differently.”

Panel complet

Note aux lecteurs : Cette session vidéo a été transcrite à l'aide d'un logiciel de transcription automatique. Une révision manuelle a été effectuée afin d'améliorer la lisibilité et la clarté. Les questions ou préoccupations concernant la transcription peuvent être adressées à en indiquant "transcription" dans la ligne d'objet.

Mary Rowe [00:00:26] Hi, everybody. And welcome to City Talk on a very, very hot and steamy Friday in Ontario. Don’t know how hot it is wherever everybody else is, but I can assure you that it’s it’s hot in Brampton, maybe hotter as it is here in Toronto. We have Mayor Patrick Brown with us, which we’re really pleased to have because he has been at the helm of one of the cities that’s been the most challenged by COVID and has been arguably one of the most creative in terms of responding to the challenge. And I want to welcome viewers from across the country. We really think that, you know, CUI is in the connective tissue business. We think it’s really important that cities in British Columbia and how and in Nova Scotia learn about what’s going on in a city like Brampton. And similarly, that we’ve had lots of chances to get participants coming in across the country and we’re getting folks coming in from the US and from Europe. And so one of the things we always ask is when you check in, if you’re just on a chat function, we encourage you just to check and tell us where you’re viewing from, which is terrific. And as the chat room fills up, know that everything that goes into that chat, any comments you put there, stay there, because we publish a video of our discussion with Mayor Brown raise. We also create some takeaways of key things that he’ll say that are important for everyone to recognize that we post that and we also post the  chat. So unlike in Vegas, it doesn’t it doesn’t stay in Vegas, actually. It goes up and it’s there in perpetuity, whatever people say on that chat. And we originate these recordings and these sessions live in Toronto, which is the traditional territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Annishnabec,, Chippewa and Hausdenasaunee And the Wendat peoples is now home to many diverse First Nations Inuit And Metis peoples from across Turtle Island and Toronto is also covered by Treaty 13, which was signed with the Mississaugas of the Credit Andy Williams treaties that were signed with multiple Annishnabec, nations. And we remindful with all these sessions that we live, has all sorts of structural historical arrangements that have excluded particular people of color and the indigenous peoples. And we are, as urban is trying to come to terms with that and figure out what the implications are in terms of not only our historic practice, but as we continue to live with a global pandemic. How can we make cities, build cities, govern cities, manage cities that are more inclusive and more just and and I’m, as I suggested, really pleased to have more ground with us, because he is I think one could say, and I don’t know whether you did great or Brown, that you’re leading a kind of city of the future and with a population that’s predominantly has been immigrant and is becoming all sort, it has all sorts of diversity, all sorts of challenges associated with that and all sorts of assets included in that. So and as I suggested, put comments on the Chatbox and join us on hashtag city talk and know that we continue our conversation long after this session is like and it’s really well would say these are the beginning of a conversation. So, Mayor Brown, welcome to City Talk. And if you can just start us off by giving people across the country a kind of picture of what this challenge is they’re looking like and what it’s been like for you as mayor of Brenton’s through this whole incredible challenge. Tell us.


Mayor Brown [00:03:20] First of all it’s great to be on city talk. Thank you, Mary, for this opportunity. So a little bit about Brampton, the challenges we’re facing with this work. Canada’s ninth largest city, we’re probably the most multicultural city in the country, over 73 percent of visible minorities in Brampton we’re mosaic of the world. And we love it. We’re also the youngest big city in in Canada and some unique features to Brampton that are relevant in COVID. We’ve got a strong workplace that is very much intertwined with essential workplaces. Some of you may not know. But, you know, Brampton has got a per capita basis, more food processing companies than anywhere else in the country. And so when you have people working in industries that aren’t shut down that they’re integral to the economy, it means there’s a greater risk. So we’ve had a number of workplace outbreaks, little things I never knew until I started touring different businesses in Brampton. But we’re the number one supplier of peanut butter in Canada. We get peanuts from Georgia and they’re processed, manufactured in Brampton. And we’re the number one producer of Chicken Fingers in Canada. We provide almost every chain in Canada a chicken fingers with the exception of of KFC. And there’s countless stories like that of of companies. Coca-Cola has their largest footprint in Brampton in the country. And so we’ve got this these companies that have to work. Rogers, the largest Rogers campus in the country, is not in Toronto. It’s and it’s in Brampton. And so you have all these people who are going to work every day and that creates a higher risk. We also have we also have many families that live together in one of the beautiful things about the South Asian culture, which is very strong and and large numbers in Brampton, is that it’s quite common to have three generations living together. And I say it’s beautiful. I know when I have my grandparents, my sisters are my my parents over, I love it. It’s make makes hanging out with all the kids easier. But in the South Asian culture, that’s almost something that’s respected and much more common. And so one challenge we’ve had is that when in a small community where the average household might be two people, a two point five and one person gets COVID it spreads to two and a half people. But in Brampton, we’ve had a number of outbreaks where one person gets COVID-19 and it spreads to 15 people quite quickly. Having said that, you know that that was a challenge initially. But we really have seen incredible progress as much as we’ve had to have physical distancing fines and by law enforcement. I think our worst week was one hundred and twenty seven fines. But I like to remind people out of seven hundred thousand people. One hundred and twenty seven fines is point zero one percent of the population. The vast majority are doing their best or listening to public health. And we’re making progress. And so while we were considered a hot spot a month ago, I think our numbers would no longer warrant us being considered a hot spot anymore. But it’s certainly been an interesting journey. And we’re we’re in uncharted territory. And it’s not something I think any of us were prepared for.


Mary Rowe [00:06:45] You know, it’s interesting your comment about a typical family size or household size. And I think this is something that we’ve heard this from other leaders who are identifying. So, for instance, we had Mayor Nenshi your colleague from Calgary observed the same thing. He lives in a multigenerational households himself. And and we know from other parts of the GTA and other parts of Metro Vancouver, for instance, as you suggest, where the Asian population may have settled. It’s not uncommon. And you have some of these big, large homes and under healthy conditions, it totally works fine. It’s just extremely difficult even. Even the language around sheltering in place. We’ve been brought up several times here on CityTalk. If you don’t have a home to, shelter to, or if your home is already a crowded home, then sheltering in place or sheltering at home is very, very difficult to do.


Mayor Brown [00:07:36] No question.


Mary Rowe [00:07:38] So in terms of the hotspots you’ve had, I I’m interested that, as you suggest, that chicken fingers and peanuts, you know, I remember I’m old enough to remember when Brampton was Bramalea. Do you remember this? And it was or at least the and I don’t know whether there was a development company called Bramalea. And that’s how we referred to it when I was in university 40 years ago.


Mayor Brown [00:07:56] No, there was a number of different townships that all came together there under Brampton. And Bramalea was one of those initial townships that I am. But there’s still a strong identification with with Bramalea. So Bramalea from Bramalea in Brampton, even though you’re from. You live in Brampton, a lot of people identify. They live they live in Bramalea,.


Mary Rowe [00:08:17] Obviously, to see if in the chat if somebody checks in and says, wait a second, it’s a bit like Streetsville in Mississauga. You know, Mayor McCallion. But Crombie’s predecessor, always said she was from Streetsville. So I appreciate the attachment to place. So you’ve had outbreaks in terms of those food manufacturing plants. And as you suggest, the economy in in Brampton has evolved over time. And I’m interested in terms of the effect of COVID on, for instance, your local shopping areas. Can you see the extent to which are those independent businesses struggling to come back or what do you want? What do you see?


Mayor Brown [00:08:49] I think I think it’s fair to say every small business has been hit hard by COVID small mom and pop shops and we’ve lost them. You know, I’m a big supporter of active transportation. And, you know, we have a bicycle shop in the downtown. There’s no longer there. We’ve had restaurants that have shut down. There are real consequences to to COVID-19. And I just hope the level of loss is something that we can we can manage to mitigate through creativity in the months that follow this that this pandemic. But I think it would be naive to suggest there aren’t real losses. And there’s there’s businesses the people poured their heart and soul to that they’ll become casualties to this pandemics not just not just the health pandemic. It’s an economic firestorm. Having said that, there are businesses in Brampton that have actually thrived during the pandemic. We’ve got one of Amazon’s largest packaging centers in Brampton. They’re busier than ever. They’re hiring more people. Brampton’s also famous for having a very large and active logistics center. And so we have a large number of trucking companies to the point that I’m just being shocked by them, by how many there were and the size them. And they’re busier than ever because right now they’re that they’re shipping goods. But, you know, that’s another challenge on trying to keep Brampton, you know, protected from COVID-19 when you’re in a logistics sector, you’re an essential worker that faces a greater risk and we’ve got those. We have people trucking across North America.


Mary Rowe [00:10:34] Yes. And there’s not, as you suggest, you’re a hub. So there’s lots of any you show at airports. So there’s lots of coming in and coming out. Tons and tons. And Mayor Brown. I don’t have a good sense of the percentage of people that live in Brampton and work in Brampton versus live in Brampton and work somewhere else. What’s what was before COVID? What was the pattern of mobility? More people going out to work. Are more people coming into work or about the same?


Mayor Brown [00:10:56] Definitely more people leaving the city for work each day. It’s one of our challenges. We want to create an employment center in Brampton, but there is that pulled to Toronto. And many people work in downtown Toronto. It’s a great gridlock on our roads. And you talk about the challenges of that permanent gridlock and the permanent traffic. Part of the goal of changing that over time is that you’re not so reliant on having to to to commute and build our own employment centers in Brampton, which is a longer term project that we’re working on.


Mary Rowe [00:11:32] I mean, you mentioned about it your transit and mobility is important to you. And again, you know, in other cities, there’s sometimes resistance to this kind of thing. But you’ve been investing and I know working with partners, the province and Federal government and your regional partners in Peel about creating better connection across the GTA. Can you give us a sense of how you’ve responded in terms of transit making it safe? What is happening with your transit service and how do you anticipate going forward in terms of continuing with the plans that you were working on?


[00:12:05] For our transit system, Bramptom Transit is growing by leaps and bounds every every year. If you build a good transit system, people will use it. I think part of the challenge is that in Canada, I think we’ve become. With the exception of probably Montreal and Toronto, we’ve been accustomed to not having great transit systems. But when you go and travel in Europe, you just become envious of the investments they’ve they’ve made. And so we have we have light years to go in Brampton to get to the type of transit system that I think would be world class. But we’re slowly trying to percolate it. You know, we have our aspirations for LRT phase two. We’ve got the Queen Street Rapid Bus Transit, and we do things a little bit different. And for those watching from outside of Brampton, you’ll find this curious and interesting. The federal government’s doing their first electric bus pilot in in Brampton, and we got funding for that last year. We’re doing two routes. They’re going to be electrified. And as they as the busses pick up passengers, that’s when they recharge. And so it doesn’t need to actually start for refueling because it’s a this is this is busing for the for, you know, for the future. But what I love about this is in a pre if you built your transit system already, it’s very hard to change. It’s very expensive to change it because Brampton is growing so fast. We have a unique opportunity that if we do it now, the cost are not prohibitive. Council just passed a motion 10 to zero that our new transit facility is going to be electrified. Now, the cost escalated 30 percent. But imagine having to tear down a transit in a transit facility. It would be a 200 percent cost escalation. So we’re making some of the choices now to be able to create a green, environmentally friendly, friendly and frankly, over time, it will be cost efficient. You know, if you look at the what you’ll save on on fueling, it will be cost efficient. And so, you know, we’re I’m excited about where our transit system going. And obviously, everything’s sort of on on hold right now with with. But there’s some really interesting adaptions to work. Transit’s going in, Brampton. And, you know, we have a council that one of our things we believe passionately energy is you build you build a city for people, not for cars. And so we passed a motion that for every new road built in Brampton, they have to justify to a staff to justify that they can’t put active transportation is part of it. So there’s almost like a reverse onus now that they have to convince council why any new road construct in the city, they cannot they cannot adapt to active transportation. So, you know, we were building a master plan right now. And so if you come to Brampton, you all you’re only going to see remnants of it. But I really believe in five years and 10 years, you’ll see an active transportation network. And, Brampton, that hopefully will be the envy of other municipalities.


Mary Rowe [00:15:03] I don’t know who Chris Drew is. I don’t know if it’s a person in your office or a person on staff or an activist in Brampton. I don’t know. Chris is a man or woman, whoever you are, Chris. You’re doing just a heck of a job posting late on the chat or everything the mayor mentions so that people can read. And as I suggested, we’ll post it online so people will see all the U.S. things that Branton is doing. Thanks, Chris. Wherever you are.


Mayor Brown [00:15:24]  I can tell you, Chris, Chris. His family lives in Brampton. He lives in Toronto, but he’s been an activist when it comes to transit policy in Brampton, he actually worked and worked for George Smitherman, previously, a former cabinet minister. So, Chris, your input is always welcome and we appreciate people that care so much about their city.


Mary Rowe [00:15:46] And then Chris is just added themselves, students and their volunteer advocate. Well, thanks, Chris. It’s great to be with you on the chat function to just fill in the blanks so that when Mayor Brown mentioned something I’ve got to say, Mayor Brown, that I’m thrilled to hear you advocating for LRT and BRT. I and I lived in the States for 15 years, and I watched the power of BRT and LRT as being much cheaper and much more flexible because some than subways, because, you know, we subways are enormous investments. They are extraordinarily disruptive, as you know, to build them after a community is built. It’s almost impossible. And then if you make a mistake, if you put a subway where it turns out nobody actually does go, you’re stuck with it. Whereas with BRT in LRT, you can say, oops, we’ll just shift the route, you know. And even during COVID that I think it’s been so interesting in larger transit centers to see for us to actually see, oh, there’s where the workers are that need to get to their jobs. Essential workers, for instance. And so some of those lines may not be have been the right lines to put in way back.


Mayor Brown [00:16:44] There’s no question. So, I mean, we have an opportunity to try to do it right now in Brampton because we actually have this young population that we have to build for.


Mary Rowe [00:16:54] It’s interesting to me. Mayor Brown, have you do you find it hard to marshal a consensus on your council? You’re sounding me like an extremely progressive cities or for people. These are downtown kind of values, not suburban values. I’ve never wanted to be too firm on how we differentiate that you find with your council colleagues. Are they all of the same mind as you? Or do you have to convince.


Mayor Brown [00:17:17] No, we we’ve had a great council that has been very much working together. Our transit motion for the master plan passed unanimously are are the efforts on active transportation once again passing unanimously. And one of the people that I admire the most in public service is actually Brampton resident, former premier Bill Davis. And, you know, I think he was the ultimate of them, the ultimate pragmatist. And the way he the way he could work with people from different political perspectives, I believe, is is the gold standard. And so the previous council on Brampton turned down LRT funding because they were disagreeing on route, disagreeing on different aspects of the LRT that had turned down hundreds of millions of dollars is something that you don’t normally see cities do. And so people said when it comes to transit policy, you could never get people to agree in Brampton. I think it was that divisive. And I wasn’t in Brampton at the time, so I wasn’t part of that debate. I was serving in the provincial legislature up in Simcoe County. And so I think one advantage I had is I wasn’t part of of of this of this division. And so we had council gather at the beginning and say, what can we agree on? What what what are the common goals we have? We all want better transit. And so we managed to find some compromise solutions that got us to an eleven to zero vote on our transit master plan that involves the BRT, the LRT Phase two, and an active transportation. And so it’s always a delicate balance to keep everyone together on on the train. But as it stands now, we’re still united on a train to move forward. But, you know, part of the challenge is municipal finances are limited. And so for bigger aspiration and transit projects, you need the help of provincial and federal governments. And so part of our challenge now is saying now that we’ve got council behind a goal, how do we get the buy in from provincial and federal governments to give us the ability to do this? And we can we can cover a third of the cost ourselves. But you need partners for big transit ideas.


Mary Rowe [00:19:31] Yeah, I mean, let’s talk about that if we can. And I see some folks commenting on your mentioning of Bill Davis just through just a reminder to the rest of the country that Bill Davis also, when he was premier, was the one that actually put the kibosh on a big expressway that was going to buy your cake downtown Toronto. And he said no. And so he has a legacy in terms of cities being for people.


Mayor Brown [00:19:50] And Mary few people are probably teasing me. Being from Brampton I probably reference them too often, as are the one of the fathers of Brampton, a pride. But I should add, for those outside of of Ontario, he also was the premier that created the Ministry of the Environment. There never was a Ministry of Environment in in in Ontario before before Bill Davis. And so he was a true progressive.


Mary Rowe [00:20:17] Tremendous legacy. But let’s talk I mean, let’s talk about this piece about jurisdiction you’ve just hit on it. And it comes up again and again for us with mayors on these calls and cities and cities are they are the creatures of the province. They are dependent on two kinds of tax revenue sources, neither of which grow with the economy. User fees and property taxes. And you are like some of your fellow mayors have served at different levels. So we talked to Mike Savage, who, of course, has been a federal member. We talked to other mayors who have had similar kinds of joint engagements where they’ve sat in the province. And the Mayor of Ottawa, of course, obviously had provincial appointment as well. And you you were the leader of an opposition party. You were in legislature for a number of years. Can you give us a sense of that as we emerge from COVID and as you’re all dealing with extraordinary fiscal challenges now? Do you think we’ve got a moment to rethink the fiscal arrangements and the division of powers among the orders of government? Do you think that windows open?


Mayor Brown [00:21:16] Let me start by saying I think municipalities are the most effective at actually delivering infrastructure projects for the people. By far, and having served all three levels of government, I can say that with.


Mary Rowe [00:21:28] You served federally too, I forgot. Are you the only one who’s actually done that served at all three? Three of mayors, current mayors. Bonnie did federal and local. You might. Are you the only one that sat in all three, I wonder?


Mayor Brown [00:21:43] I’m not sure. And so and so part of the challenge, though, is neither the provincial and federal governments want to give up any any any room, any any fiscal room. You know Paul Martin. You know, I think he deserves credit for in 2004 setting up the gas tax transfer. And then, of course, Stephen Harper made it permanent. But that that’s been a very effective means at delivering infrastructure dollars for municipalities during during COVID. We were actually saying we’ve got an opportunity right now. You could expand that. It’s direct. It’s effective. That gets shovels in the ground right away. We haven’t had volume yet. There seems to be some finger pointing between provincial and federal governments over who’s going to be responsible for helping out with both a loss of operating dollars for critical municipal central services, but also for a stimulus fund that we expect to come. That will be reminiscent of the 2009 stimulus fund that I think could do a lot of good for it for Canada. You talk about financial pain right now. You start and you start with the major infrastructure projects. It could stimulate the economy.


Mary Rowe [00:22:57] Yeah. I mean, do you have a sense of whether there’s a willingness on the part of provincial governments? I mean, I’m hearing the same rumors you are that they’re having a bit of a finger pointing exercise. And this is one of the dilemmas as residents of cities is that when you try to hold some level of government responsible for we don’t have housing that we need or we don’t. It’s very difficult to find the levels you can hold responsible. Do you have a sense that there may be an appetite within provincial governments, for instance, to give municipal governments other kinds of revenue tools going forward?


Mayor Brown [00:23:28] Not yet. So I. I know that the provincial finance minister, Rod Phillips, you know, he will say, listen, we know you need help and help is on the way. Not necessarily new revenue tools, but it’ll be help is on the way. Chrystia Freeland, the deputy prime minister, has a regular meeting with the big city mayors, and she says that that federal help will come in. They’re working with the provinces, but it’s it’s taking up a long time. There seems to be a new announcement every week of a different sector of the economy that is getting funding and municipalities aren’t or aren’t on that list. And you know why I said beginning, they’re the most effective at actually getting shovels in the ground. It’s a wasted and opportunity.


Mary Rowe [00:24:11] I know. And I keep wondering with me whether we can actually shift this so that municipalities aren’t seen as another stakeholder. But you’re not just saying that you’re actually the purveyor of the quality of life that 80 percent of Canadians depend on.


Mayor Brown [00:24:22] And I think one unfortunate thing is the realities. Municipalities are creatures of the province. And so if they if they have more autonomy in this arrangement, in this confederation arrangement, it would be, I think, a good thing for for for Canada. But right now, it’s very easy for them to be a ball that’s bounced around.


Mary Rowe [00:24:43] How do you feel about the federal government putting more money, whether they will? And would you be supportive? I know you need money wherever you get it from. But do you want the federal government more involved in getting on printing dollars to municipalities?


Mayor Brown [00:24:55]  No, one hundred percent? You know, for me, it’s I don’t care who gets credit, whether it’s through the province or for the federal government directly, whatever means that they can find. I actually thought if they had quadrupled the gas tax transfer, that would’ve been a very effective means to do it. My worry.


Mary Rowe [00:25:17] Just quadruplet, if you say that, there you go. Quadruple can’t do as well. And we are.


Mayor Brown [00:25:23] And if you look at FCF, ask originally that that type of. Financial investment would would would be what was necessary in the year ahead to get us through this this pandemic. But we have in some areas of the country that would be unwelcome. I know in Quebec federal direct federal involvement in municipalities may not be popular. And so.


Mary Rowe [00:25:50] It would be seen as an intrusion. That’s the dilemma. You’re saying you want more autonomy for cities. The dilemma is, if you take money, take money from the municipality, from the federal government, are you then beholden to them? What about the regional piece Mayor Brown as you were leading you were a leader in the provincial council, in the provincial government, and you’ve sat there watching all those debates. You’re very you’ve had to be very involved in Brampton with Metrolink’s. Is that is that a structure? That is one that the rest of country should look at, where the regional implementation of transit in building is with an agency? Does do you think that’s worked or is that a good model or no?


Mayor Brown [00:26:28] I think it’s a good model. If if they had more clout, more muscle, and we still have multiple transit agencies throughout the GTA. And so if you actually had a regional transit body that wasn’t just the group that distributed provincial funding, but if they actually ran transit, you had a regional transit agency and you didn’t know it was more interconnected rather than having eight different transit agencies. I think it’s a great idea that could be more effective.


Mary Rowe [00:26:59] Would you do that? Would you create an RTA? Just you heard it here first. Is that what you would do?


Mayor Brown [00:27:04] So it is something that I would certainly put my mind to if I if if I was ever back in provincial politics, which I have no intention to, I’m I’m happy in in Brampton. But I think it would be very effective. It just. We have you know, we all have our own little transit empires. And each and each municipality in terms of regional government is sort of a different conversation because we have a Region of Peel, a region of York, a region of Durham, all surrounding the city of Toronto. And so it was actually created, believe or not. Here’s now that Bill Davis reference regional government was created by by Bill Davis in the 1970s. And the original idea was you had all these small townships and if you pooled resources, you’d get better value in your waste management contracts, better value on on on water, better value on on, um, policing, because you’d share the cost rather than having multiples of of different administrative leadership. And so I think from a cost effective perspective, regional governance in Ontario has has been good because the pooled it has pooled resources, a bigger contract with better value.


Mary Rowe [00:28:17] That you haven’t done and it hasn’t required amalgamation and that you still have smaller. You still have the local council. You still have the capacity to have local autonomy. But I know that in the case of the region of Peel that dilemma you’ve got, there’s you’ve got very different circumstances. You and Mayor Crombie dealing with urban centers and then the mayor Caledon. And it’s quite a different mix. Is there a rural? Do you have rural communities inside the city boundary of Brampton or is it all predominately urban?


Mayor Brown [00:28:45] It’s very urban. But if you look at some parts of the north west of the city, it’s almost like you’re in a rural setting. If you go to the old Huttonville area, it feels like it’s a rural setting. But Caledon changing to you know Caledon is growing very fast. If you look at at Bolton, which is only part of Caledon, that you feel like you’re you’re you’re still in Brampton. And so I think over time, because of the growth in Caledon, you’ll see Caledon increasingly looking like a Mississauga or Brampton, with the exception that there’s a lot of greenbelt land there that will never be developed. Without exception, the urban areas in Caledon will increasingly look like Brampton and Mississauga.


Mary Rowe [00:29:28] It just is slight shift to slightly different topic we we last week observed COVID one hundred days of COVID and published a report called Signposts Work at CUI. We’re tracking every hundred days to see what’s going on. And one of the things that we saw, of course, is that the the impact of COVID is disproportionately felt by people of color and people in disadvantaged neighborhoods, in equity seeking groups. And I’m interested that you actually mandated your house department to do heat maps to show early where the instance of COVID was actually happening. Right.


Mayor Brown [00:30:00] And so the genesis behind that is when this all happened, I think we all did a lot of reading on on on COVID on pandemic’s. And I know one of the books I was looking at was on the the Great Influenza, the 1918. And there was a book that said that the best tool you can give the public is transparency during a pandemic. Don’t don’t try to tell them stories, be as transparent as possible. Possible. And so that’s sort of. Our guiding principles in Peel when I know something I want to tell the public. Every week we have a tele town hall right at the head of the hospital, the head of public health, the head of each. First responders to give a weekly briefing. So the same briefings I get on a daily basis. We have 10, 15, 20 thousand residents get a briefing once a week. Whoever wants to come on that, tele town hall. And when the premier mentioned that Brampton was a hot spot along with Scarborough and Etobicoke, people are saying, I want to know where there’s a greater risk. And so we ask public health to create a heat map that would show that. And there were some initial concerns that you could stigmatize a neighborhood and people would stay away. I think the end of the day, despite those concerns, I think people have the right to know where there is a greater risk. And frankly, I think a lot of people were surprised in the case of a Brampton, you know, people had their ideas of all of this neighborhood, maybe a little bit more financially challenge. That’s going to be a problem. And it was actually an older neighborhood in Brampton that, you know, had had a greater level of fluency.


Mary Rowe [00:31:33] It’s interesting. And your. And I am I right to that. As you suggested, you’ve had you’ve had food processing plants where it was organized. Have you had a look at it like other places, a disproportionate incidence in Long-Term Care facilities or not? Not as much.


Mayor Brown [00:31:47] Yeah. So we we’ve had a number of Long-Term Care facilities that were hit hard. The Halling Christian Homes was actually one of the five homes in Ontario that the Canadian forces went into. So that the long term care setting has been hit hard throughout Ontario. My my grandmother actually was in one of the homes in Toronto that faced a pretty ugly outbreak. So for me. So for me, you know, I’ve been keeping a very close eye on the challenges that are LTCs have. And unfortunately, Brampton has not been an exception to it.


Mary Rowe [00:32:22] Right. Right. And so as you go forward, talk to us about reopening and reopening sort of phased approach. We know that Ontario has been struggling with whether it’s one set of rules for the whole province or whether or not we can see variations in different communities. What’s Brampton’s experience as you experience, as you’re moving into the reopening and how is that how are you navigating what’s happening in other adjacent communities, et cetera?


Mayor Brown [00:32:48] So a number of the GTA mayors advocated Moyor Tory, Mayor Crombie, Mayor Scarpitti, myself that we didn’t want to rush reopening. I think if you look at the lessons from the US is that a rushed reopening could cause more chaos and relapse. And I think there was political pressure to reopen. One of our worries was that there’ll be a reopening in the province that will be dictated by a political timetable, not by a health timetable. And the province was good enough to say that they would allow a separate reopenings so that if there was pressure to reopen in northern Ontario, that we would not be pushed faster because of a different area of the province. We really felt that we didn’t want to reopen until public health told us that it was that it was safe, safe to do so. I’m not qualified to give medical advice. So I’m a public servant, not a physician. And I felt very strongly that it should be the physicians driving this timetable. And we’ve got some very qualified public health officers in the GTA that have been very much in sync on on the steps necessary. Glad that we continued to heed their advice.


Mary Rowe [00:34:04] You know, I mean, where are you in masks? What’s the approach that Brampton is taking on masks?


Mayor Brown [00:34:10] Well, we actually passed a motion unanimously to make mass mandatory in all indoor public settings. The city of Toronto and in Brampton were the first to do it in the in the GTA. Toronto’s motion passed Tuesday. Branch’s motion passed on on Thursday.


Mary Rowe [00:34:28] When you say indoor public spaces, music, libraries and community centers. And if you’re in a  this. What about if you go into a store? What happens in the store?


Mayor Brown [00:34:36] Mandoatory masks in a store. And that’s considered an indoor public setting. Now, there’ll be there’ll be exemptions to that. If you have respiratory issues, if you’re a young child, you’d be exempt. You’re going to be reasonable about this. But all the research, all the data says very clearly, and this was a recommendation for our medical officer of health, that it really dramatically changes how fast the virus can transmit. And so we felt it would be foolish if if we didn’t take that step, knowing that in large urban areas there is a greater challenge to containing the virus.


Mary Rowe [00:35:14] And if you is the city of Brampton able to provide any assistance and I don’t know what it would look like to small businesses that are trying to reopen, what kind of support are you able to provide to them?


Mayor Brown [00:35:23] So we’ve tried some creative things. For example, with our restaurants, they’re now allowed to have patios. We said that anyone that wants to expand their patio put it out on the expanded space use parking lot space to do so. We’ve been waiving the fees for those applications, expediting them, expedite the permit. Yeah, the downtown BIA asked about closing roads to create more pedestrian room and where we’re accommodating that. And so we’re looking at any tool we can to be helpful. We have a number of city facilities. We’ve waived and defer the rent waived for not for profits, deferred the rent for for profits. And every city facility and a province has said they’re not going to evict commercial tenants during the pandemic. Yes. Yeah. So that’s that’s something that’s welcome to. But then the and the day in it, it’s just it’s devastating. And in some cases. There’s nothing we can do.


Mary Rowe [00:36:22] No. Have you talked at all to some of these landlords that for whatever reason, are reacting not to apply for the rent support program? Because it’s been a very, very small take up on this. And so even though they can’t evict and the dilemma is that for whatever reason, you know, tens of thousands of these landowners are not applying for rent relief. You have conversations to find out what that’s about.


Mayor Brown [00:36:42] I’ve I’ve had a few friendly conversations where I’ve given friendly advice on behalf of the city that we want them to be good corporate citizens of the municipality.


Mary Rowe [00:36:53] Yeah, it’s hard to know what what the rationale is, but, you know, it’s such a large number that haven’t haven’t applied. There’s a question on the chat coming in asking how does the mask requirement? Because I think you have to have you have to wear a mask to get on Brampton Transit. Right. But GO. I gather is not requiring mass, which I think is curious. Have you tried to intervene with them, say, well, come on.


Mayor Brown [00:37:17] The GTHA Mayors we have a group, the John Tory Cherries. Every week every Monday we meet, we actually collectively asked the province to put in a standard approach to the GTHA for mandatory masks, and they said, no, it’s going to be up to the local municipalities. One of the you know, if if there was some commonality, it could make more of a it’s easier for the public to digest and follow if it’s the same everywhere. When you have to follow a patchwork of policies. Yeah, no wonder there’ll be some people that complained, complain about compliancy if we make it confusing.


Mary Rowe [00:37:53] Yeah, I know. I know. I mean, this is the thing about health policy. I agree with you. You just say make it like a seatbelt or whatever, because if people don’t have the mental capacity to say, where am I right now? All I have to have a mask on. No, I don’t. You know, it’s kind of complicated that way. So in the next hundred days, believe it or not, COVID two hundred is September twenty seven. I can’t leave it. It seems to me like it’s just on our doorstep. Whereas that first hundred days felt like a thousand. So as you’re going to go through the summer and into the fall, can you just give us a sense of sort of the three priorities that you feel you’ve got to keep on the top and on the front burner for you in Brampton?


Mayor Brown [00:38:29] So making sure the public listens to the advice of a public health, hand hygiene, physical distancing, wearing a mask. I know the warmer weather will create challenges to having that advice adhered to. And so we’re going to continue to focus a lot of energy to make sure that best practices are followed. I think that that’s that’s one thing. Two making sure that we can have a reopening of businesses in a manner that is that is safe. I think in a number of weeks, the province is going to look at stage three of the reopening and I don’t want to see us falling. Look what happened in Texas where there was a reopening that they turned direction on. I want to make sure that our reopening is done in a manner where we’re taking every necessary precaution to make sure we’re doing this in a manner that’s not going to expose the public. And so, I think be a lot of energy placed on on on the reopening in and to make sure that it’s one reason why we did mandatory masks. You know, I think mandatory masks is actually not just good for the health, but it’s good for the economy. These will create conditions that enable us to offer a safe reopening. I think a focus in the next hundred days is making sure that we have the financial integrity to be able to continue to provide essential services. Know, John Tory and other mayors have said that, you know, we could we could be running out of funds. You know, municipalities can’t run deficits. And so we fund public health. We fund police, we’ve we fund fire. We fund transit operators, paramedics. The notion that any of those services would have to curtail and a pandemic for me is preposterous. But we could be in that position if we don’t get some financial assistance. So I think that will be a third goal over the summer, is to is to continue to increase the advocacy to make sure that we don’t have any essential services that are integral to the public that are diminished or watered down because of a lack of finances.


Mary Rowe [00:40:32] And I mean, it’s basically another new deal. You know, we need another new deal for cities, don’t we? And it’s interesting, just one thing to finish on. You said it early in the broadcast. You talked about how you’re a majority visible minority city and which is I guess, you’re a visible minority city. And the issues of racism and policing and community policing, I’m sure, is front and center for you in Brampton. Is there a sense of how that’s going to manifest as you move forward through the summer?


Mayor Brown [00:41:03] Yes. So this is a unique moment in history where I think there’s a real momentum and willingness to confront systemic racism. And I think we’re well-positioned to to be a platform for that momentum to push us towards a more equitable arrangement for our institutions. And use this as an opportunity to to break down barriers. We have a new chief, chief and chief Nishan Duraiappah who is the first South Asian big city chief of police in Canada. And one of the reasons I was on the police services board. One of the reasons that we selected him was I thought he would do policing differently. You know, when a lot of chiefs of police wanted to maintain the practice of carding when he was in a different police force. He was one of the voices saying the carding was wrong. And so he was ahead of his time on issues that I thought where you were very clear, but they were not necessarily clear in the leadership of policing in Canada. And I think he is well positioned to make these changes. A few weeks ago, we passed a motion to police services board that myself, Mayor Crombie, put forward to bring in body cameras to bring in a greater level of transparency. I believe transparency creates accountability. It exposes the bad. It protects the good. And I don’t think there’s any one who is a dedicated public servant with the right intentions, whatever, not welcome transparency that’s being implemented right now. We’re also going to work on dealing with the lack of mental health workers available. You know, we had two mental health related tragedies that are now being investigated, investigated by SIU that involve the police shooting. I don’t believe we should criminalize mental health. Yet last year, we had 15000 mental health calls to the police under the Police Police Act of Ontario. They have to be there under the act, under the provincial legislation. They have to respond. But we only have mental health workers to be able to respond to in one or two cars. So you might have 18 incidents in a day. And we can we only have the resources provincially for mental health to respond to one or two of those calls. So you’re creating a situation that isn’t there’s only going to create more tragedies. There’ll be 16 plus calls a day where there’s not a mental health worker available. And so I hope that this this moment in history is going to help us rectify some of these imbalances. And in Brampton, we actually passed a motion not only to encourage this evolution of policing, a look at policing through a different lens that our chief welcomed. But we also passed a motion to create a anti-Black racism unit at City Hall that in a matter of weeks has already been set up. Gwen Chapman, who’s been a community activist in the GTA, has now been hired to head that that unit at Branton City Hall to help examine where there are systemic barriers that we can tear down.


Mary Rowe [00:44:14] Yes. Fantastic. Well, I think, you know, Mayor Brown, you’re illustrating to us. I think the potential for what a city of the future can look like. You’re creating a lot of things from the ground up there. And the demography is has formed up over time. So you’ve got a whole diverse constituency of folks. How do you create these services that respond to the actual people that live there? And just fascinating for us to hear how you emerging from this and as you suggest, tackling things that pre-date COVID. But now we have this window, this moment in time. And I think so we’re very appreciative of you coming to talk, because I think what Brampton is coming to terms with is happening across the country. And people benefit from hearing where your priorities are and where you think you can make an impact, including hiring a different kind of chief of police, rethinking those services and looking at COVID as an opportunity to kind of correct some of the things that have been not right. And so could I, just on behalf of all of us here. Thank you. And I do want to thank these super keen people on the chatbox. Chris, Yvonne Allen is a group of you know, we’d love to have you come on every city talk and be the stenographer in here to put these resources up. So please get in touch. That’s at We’d love to have you volunteer in this capacity because it’s really, really helpful, not just for Mayor Brown and I seeing you doing it, but also for when people will view this subsequently. Great resource so Mayor Brown. Thank you very, very much. We’re going to look with great interest. Won’t be the last time we speak to because I’m sure Brampton will be on the cutting edge again of whatever is next ahead of us. And next week for City Talk, it’s Main Street week. And we’re going to talk Tuesday evening about choosing a day, rather, about restaurants and what’s happening to Main Streets in evenings, nighttime and what’s going to happen to public safety on our main streets, part of CUI Bring Back Main Street campaign. And then on Thursday, we’re going to have another conversation about the role of design, public design and urban design and public engagement in bringing back our mainstream. Because every community in Canada has some sort of a main street, whether it’s even a shopping mall or a strip mall or a traditional main street. So mainstream week next week, Tuesday and Thursday. And then on Friday, I’m having a conversation with the mayor of Windsor who’s having his own set of particular challenges, not all urban as he becomes the hot spot at the moment for the outbreak of the virus. So again, Mayor Brown thank you for joining us. And we look forward to more conversation about regional leadership and all the important things you’re doing in branch. And really great to have you. Thank you.


Mayor Brown [00:46:34] Thank you so much for having me.


Audience complète
Transcription de la salle de discussion

Note au lecteur : Les commentaires sur le chat ont été édités pour faciliter la lecture. Le texte n'a pas été modifié pour des raisons d'orthographe ou de grammaire. Pour toute question ou préoccupation, veuillez contacter en mentionnant "Chat Comments" dans l'objet du message.

De l'Institut urbain du Canada : Vous trouverez les transcriptions et les enregistrements de la conférence d'aujourd'hui et de tous nos webinaires à l'adresse suivante :

12:01:24 From Chris Drew: Hi Mayor Brown!
12:02:02 From Canadian Urban Institute: Folks, please change your chat settings to “all panelists and attendees” so everyone can see your comments.
12:02:21 From Kate Graham: Hi from London, Ontario:)
12:02:22 From Chris Drew: Toronto, but my parents and brother live in Brampton, as do many, many friends.
12:02:27 From Canadian Urban Institute: You can find transcripts and recordings of today’s and all our webinars at
12:02:32 From Chris Drew: Hi Kate!
12:02:35 From Fiona Sterritt: Hi from Hamilton!
12:02:36 From Alex Adams to All panelists: Hi from Brampton!
12:02:50 From Canadian Urban Institute: Keep the conversation going #citytalk @canurb
12:03:05 From Kathy Suggitt: Good afternoon from Barrie, ON
12:03:05 From Purshottama Reddy to All panelists: South African currently in Toronto.
12:03:46 From Caroline Poole, CUI Staff: Today’s panelist is Mayor Patrick Brown of Brampton, ON:

Twitter: @patrickbrownont

Instagram: @patrickbrownont



12:04:00 From Chris Drew: Great article here by Sean Marshall on the transit history of Brampton
12:04:18 From Chris Drew: Better URL:
12:04:24 From Alan Kan to All panelists: Listening in from Mississauga
12:04:28 From Claudia Mckoy to All panelists: Hello from Brampton.
12:04:35 From Alan Kan: Listening in from Mississauga
12:04:51 From Yvonne Yeung to All panelists: Yvonne Yeung, Manager of Urban Design from City of Brampton. Grateful to be working with the City and Mayor Brown on transforming Brampton to an innovative, future focused city.
12:04:54 From Canadian Urban Institute: Reminding attendees to please change your chat settings to “all panelists and attendees” so everyone can see your comments.
12:05:48 From Alex Adams: Hi from Brampton!
12:05:57 From Chris Drew: Hi Alex!
12:07:04 From Yvonne Yeung: Yvonne Yeung, Manager of Urban Design from City of Brampton. Grateful to be working with the City and Mayor Brown on transforming Brampton to an innovative, future focused city.
12:09:01 From Purshottama Reddy: Interesting context in terms of the family situation and culture and the impact on COVI-19.
12:09:12 From Chris Drew: Grew up in Bramalea. Great blog on the history of it here
12:10:29 From Chris Drew: Fun fact about Brampton: the Light Rail Vehicles for the Hurontario LRT, the Finch West LRT, and the expansion of Ottawa’s LRT will be made in Brampton.
12:12:20 From Alex Adams: Wow, I had no idea @Chris
12:12:53 From Chris Drew: Speaking of transit, there’s a virtual consultation on right now for the LRT Extension
12:13:23 From Chris Drew: Also, progress being made for Queen BRT in Brampton.
12:14:10 From Chris Drew: Electric bus announcement last year in Brampton
12:15:12 From Chris Drew: Bus garage consultation (includes the electric idea component I believe)
12:15:51 From Chris Drew: Speaking of road decisions, there’s a consultation happening right now for Williams Parkway and one of the options includes more active transportation
12:16:07 From Chris Drew: Not on staff. Volunteer advocate:)
12:16:22 From Alan Kan: Mayor Brown knows exactly who Chris is
12:16:23 From Kate Graham: Chris = awesome.:)
12:16:33 From Chris Drew: Happy to help.
12:17:25 From Chris Drew: Key letter here from Brampton’s CAO to Metrolinx’s Board
12:17:32 From Chris Drew: Re the transit network
12:17:54 From Chris Drew: February 2020 motion by Council re Queen BRT
12:18:47 From Alan Kan: Andddddd cue the obligatory mention of Bill Davis
12:21:14 From Michael Roschlau: Bill Davis also created GO Transit in 1967
12:22:16 From Chris Drew: Sorry for the delay posting this but re Brampton’s transit network plan and the alignment with Metrolinx’s transit network for Brampton.
12:22:51 From Alan Kan: Bonnie was a federal MP and now Mayor in Mississauga never provincial
12:23:29 From Alan Kan: Ed Holder in London is a former MP as well
12:23:47 From Chris Drew: Key thing about the federal gas tax for Brampton. When the money was rolled out around 2017 it was based on ridership in 2014. Brampton’s ridership had double-digit growth in 2015 and 2016 though.
12:24:05 From Alan Kan: Jim Watson in Ottawa was former Ontario MPP
12:24:29 From Alan Kan: So yeah, Brown is the current mayor who has served at all three levels I can think of
12:24:38 From Yvonne Yeung: “Street for People” is a priority of our very progressive council. There are also plans to create 20-min walkable neighbourhoods with Urban Community Hubs as anchors to create transit-oriented communities to unlock the investments to LRT on Hurontario and BRT on Queen. Link to presentation from last week’s Council Workshop on TOC and Urban Community Hubs.
12:25:31 From Chris Drew: Key Federation of Canadian Municipalities Report on funding for munis
12:29:03 From Alan Kan: Anne Goldens 1996 report on regional governance restructuring was groundbreaking and could have solved a lot of today’s problems
12:29:36 From Alan Kan: Too bad the Tories ignored it and decided to just amalgamate Toronto
12:29:41 From Chris Drew: Interesting map here of the commuting pattern between Brampton and Mississauga
12:29:47 From Canadian Urban Institute: You can find transcripts and recordings of today’s and all our webinars at
12:29:51 From Chris Drew: *graphic not map
12:32:26 From Chris Drew: Here is the map of cases in Brampton Mayor Brown just referenced
12:32:48 From Chris Drew: Uses arcGIS
12:33:30 From Yvonne Yeung: Further to Anne Golden’s report, the idea of Regional City as a place is also further explored by the Toronto Region Board of Trade in collaboration with the Urban Land Institute. The Regional Leadership Initiatives is also part of ULI Toronto 3 year priority to build a multi-sector collaboration among leaderships across the region.
12:34:34 From Chris Drew: Also, since Queen BRT was mentioned, the City did a land use study for the corridor. Details here:
12:35:27 From Chris Drew: Tweet from City of Brampton with mask details/link
12:36:24 From Canadian Urban Institute: Keep the conversation going #citytalk @canurb
12:36:27 From Chris Drew: CNN coverage of Canada just posted. “. @paulanewtonCNN explains how Canada controlled its Covid-19 cases as the US struggles. There’s been no controversy over masks, plus “early and widespread testing, a free health care system still building surge capacity, longer shutdowns, slower reopenings, social distancing.””
12:36:35 From Michael Roschlau: How does the mask requirement in Brampton fit with GO Transit’s decision not to require masks – even when the buses and trains travel through Brampton?
12:38:42 From Chris Drew: In case it’s of interest, Metrolinx blog post on a measure they are taking for buses.
12:40:10 From Michael Roschlau: We absolutely need to have consistency across the GTHA, if not the province. In Quebec, masks are now mandatory on all public transit systems – and soon will be enforced with non-mask wearers denied entry to subway stations in Montreal and buses across the province.
12:40:22 From Chris Drew: Since active transportation was mentioned earlier, another link (sorry for all the links). Interim bike lanes were set up in Brampton
12:42:02 From Canadian Urban Institute: What did you think of today’s conversation? Help us improve our programming with a short post-webinar survey –
12:43:44 From Yvonne Yeung: For Queen Street, a precinct plan was developed to guide the transformation of this Urban Growth Centre by the BRT. The design incorporated a network of “response facilities” to provide critical services to residents within walkable distance. A future focus solution in delivering transit-oriented communities. Link to report and presentation. Item 6.
12:45:48 From Canadian Urban Institute: Keep the conversation going #citytalk @canurb
12:46:09 From Chris Drew: Thanks – I’ll try!
12:46:28 From Irena Kohn: Thank you all:)
12:47:01 From Chris Drew: Fun fact, there’s a farmer’s market literally on Main St in Brampton
12:47:02 From Yvonne Yeung: Absolutely. Glad to contribute.