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Peel spent $4M on a provincially-appointed board. Now it says the Ford government should pay up

Peel regional councillors are asking Doug Ford’s government to pay for the provincially appointed board initially meant to oversee the region’s dissolution but now focused on reducing bureaucratic overlap, arguing it’s unfair for Peel taxpayers to have to foot the bill.

The decision to request the province to take care of the bill came this week as the regional council discussed the mounting cost of the board — so far totalling $4.2 million, according to a news release by regional chair — months after the premier called off his plans to dissolve the region. 

The Ontario government abandoned plans to split the Peel Region into three independent cities in December, citing potential tax shock from the move. But its transition board remained — with new orders to focus on speeding up home-building, rather than reviewing the delivery of services like policing and paramedicine. 

Last month, the province told CBC Toronto the region will be responsible for “all costs” associated with the board. 

That doesn’t sit well with Brampton Coun. Gurpartap Singh Toor. 

“You do the work, you appoint the people, you select the team, you do the report, everything, but somehow we pay the bill… and such a large bill. It’s no joke,” Toor, who brought forward the motion Thursday to ask the province to pay for the cost of the transition board, told CBC Toronto.

While giving the board new marching orders in January, Housing Minister Paul Calandra asked it to keep in mind “financial stability.” But for some politicians in Peel Region, the province’s U-turns on the decision mean everything but that. 

Gurpartap Singh Toor
Brampton Coun. Gurpartap Singh Toor says it’s unfair for Peel taxpayers to pay millions in bills for the transition board, which he says is not transparent. (Michael Charles Cole/CBC)

Toor says Peel taxpayers are on the hook to foot millions for a governance review, while similar reviews in other regions like Durham, Halton, York, Niagara, Waterloo and County of Simcoe are being paid for by the Ontario government. 

Nando Iannicca, regional chair, said in a news release, “the apparent disparity in funding approaches for regional governance reviews across Ontario is of significant concern.”

“While Peel Region is required to fund its transition process, other regions benefit from a provincially funded public consultation process via the standing committee on heritage, infrastructure and cultural policy,” he said.

The board has also sparked concerns around transparency, with local politicians saying it is difficult to get details on the spending as well as the work the department is doing. 

The region is now asking for “detailed information regarding third-party consultants engaged by the Transition Board and the associated costs,” Iannicca said in the release. 

The province did not respond to CBC Toronto’s questions about whether it will take care of the bills and how it’s responding to the region’s concerns about transparency of the transition board.

“The government awaits the final recommendation on how the transfer of public works services (land use planning, water and wastewater, roads, storm water, and waste management) from Peel Region can benefit residents and taxpayers in the region,” Justine Teplycky, spokesperson for the housing minister, told CBC Toronto in an email statement. 

The transition board will present a report to the province this spring about possible transfer of those services from Peel Region to the municipalities.

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