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New Year Should Bring Contentious Political Issues to Forefront in Peel Region

Ontario Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca at a transportation summit in Brampton in November 2016. All eyes will be on the provincial government in early 2017 waiting to find out the fate of the GTA West Corridor project. Brampton Guardian
By Roger Belgrave

Big changes are coming to TransHelp in the new year as the transportation services for residents with disabilities must implement new Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) requirements by Jan. 1, 2017.

TransHelp users must currently be physically disabled persons who are unable to take conventional transit and require the support of a mobility aid.

Changes will make eligible persons with cognitive disabilities, visual impairments, sensory disabilities and other conditions.

The new eligibility criteria will expand service to more residents, but also some current users may no longer have access or receive a combination of TransHelp and conventional transit.

The political back and forth between Brampton and Mississauga over the composition of Peel Region council is certain to continue in 2017.

For years now, Brampton has lobbied to have the number of seats it holds on regional council increased.

In 2016, Brampton and Caledon councillors used their collective votes to pass a task force recommendation to have four new Brampton seats and four more Mississauga seats added to the 24-member council.

Mississauga vetoed that idea.

Mississauga wants to increase Brampton’s representation, without increasing the total number of council seats, by giving Brampton just two more seats and reducing Caledon by two seats. Mississauga would keep its 12 seats.

But in November, the provincial government released draft legislation that gave the go-ahead to increase seats to 32 by giving Mississauga and Brampton each four additional representatives.

Mississauga will also continue its fight to repatriate city roads from the region a move that has ruffled political feathers in Brampton and Caledon and raised suspicion it is Mississauga’s first step to leaving regional government altogether.

All eyes will be on the provincial government in early 2017 waiting to find out the fate of the GTA West Corridor project.

A year ago, Ontario Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca suspended Environmental Assessment (EA) on the proposed project that includes plans for a highway stretching from Vaughan in the east to the Highway 401/407 ETR interchange in the west.

At that time he announced an internal review of the project and this past summer an advisory panel was formed to assess potential alternatives to the current proposal.

Many GTA municipalities, including those in Peel, view the proposed highway as critical to economic development and an essential part of growth plans.

Peel has been lobbying the government to restart the EA.

However, Ontario’s Liberal government is rethinking its transportation planning approach to incorporate the advent of new technologies and a commitment to fighting climate change.

Peel Living, the region’s troubled affordable housing provider, will also see major change in the new year.

In September the non-profit corporation fired its general manager.

The unexpected change in upper management was followed by the mass resignation the board’s citizen members, who felt regional government had usurped decision-making for the independent corporation.

Now, the Region of Peel has appointed public works commissioner Dan Labrecque the new manager and he will be steering development of a new strategic plan and transformation of the current business model.

Roger Belgrave is a reporter with the Brampton Guardian and Mississauga News. He can be reached at rbelgrave@bramptonguardian.com.. Follow him on Twitter @rbelgrave1

Original at http://www.bramptonguardian.com/news-story/7034877-new-year-should-bring-contentious-political-issues-to-forefront-in-peel-region/