Peel Councillors Expensed $41,000 from AMO Conferences

We at inbrampton.com recently reported on the conference in Ottawa held by the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) and outlined the disagreement between the politicians at Queen's Park and the mayors of Peel Region. But it was not only Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie and Brampton Mayor Linda Jeffrey who attended - eight other councillors from Peel Region also attended along with the two mayors.

But it does cost money to send councillors off to these networking and educational conferences, and the expenses for each councillor who went have been posted on the Region of Peel's website. Here's who went and how much was expensed for each councillor who attended the AMO conference in Ottawa.

Five Mississauga councillors alongside Mayor Crombie attended the conference and their expenses for the AMO are listed below:

Mayor Bonnie Crombie: $702.31

Ward 1 Councillor Jim Tovey: $753.61

Ward 2 Councillor Karen Ras: $753.61

Ward 6 Councillor Ron Starr: $753.61

Ward 8 Councillor Matt Mahoney: $753.61

Ward 10 Councillor Sue McFadden: $753.61

Brampton Mayor Linda Jeffrey was in attendance in Ottawa, although her expenses have yet to be posted online. Inbrampton.com has reached out to her communications team for a statement.

Some of Jeffrey's councillors attended and their expenses are posted online:

Wards 1 and 5 Councillor Grant Gibson: $753.61

Wards 2 and 6 Councillor Michael Palleschi: $753.61

Wards 7 and 8 Councillor Gael Miles: $753.61

These expenses totalled up to around $7,400. According to an email from Melanie Parzei, the community and council relations officer for the Peel Regional Chair Frank Dale, this amount is the total for the 2017 AMO Conference. This number will increase once the remainder of the expenses are posted online. The councillors term allowance statements are updated every 3 months, and the next update should be around October.

Parzei also stated that many other expenses associated with the conference, such as hotel accommodations and mileage, are not referenced in the statements, and more specific information would require one to file a Freedom of Information (FOI) request.

The total expenses filed for the 2017 conference and preceding AMO conferences in Windsor and Niagara Falls in 2016 and 2015 are around $41,000, according to Parzei. Parzei also confirmed via email that $15,000 is the registration fee Peel Region pays to be part of AMO.

It's not like this money is going to waste. If you're wondering what Peel councillors are going to these conferences for, the Region provides all the briefing notes and slides that are presented to the three parties and the representatives in the various government departments. For the 2017 AMO Conference:

  • Briefing notes for Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing focused on “smart growth” and building denser, “transit oriented” communities.

  • Briefing notes for Ministry of Infrastructure focused the discussion on affordable housing and wastewater infrastructure.

  • Briefing notes for the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care focused discussions around the renovations of the Peel Manor site.

Since the Ontario Liberals are currently in government, the briefing notes for the ministerial departments most likely counted as the briefings for the governing party. The notes for the Ontario NDP and Ontario PCs were much longer, because they mostly lumped in together all the briefing notes that were given to the various departments.

I think one section of the report that would appeal to PC leader Patrick Brown would be the part on 'Improving Goods Movement', by referencing how $6 billion of lost economic productivity is lost every year because of congestion. Brown has a personal connection with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and he was said to be very impressed with how Modi in his former role as Chief Minister of the Indian state of Gujarat ensured that adequate road infrastructure was there to get trucks of goods moving around in India.

While a future PC government may not be enthused about local projects such as light rail transit as the Liberals are, perhaps could be convinced to do something to improving road capacity in order to ensure a region centred around a major transportation hub like Pearson Airport can maintain a smooth flow of goods and services across the GTA.

As for the NDP, they seem to have rebranded themselves more on the side of working families so the Families First Program, affordable housing, and improving the seniors residence at Peel Manor could be seen as appealing to their party. The references to a common climate change mandate across ministries may appear to the environmental wing of the NDP, although climate change always gets sacrificed at some point in the face of needed government cutbacks and pragmatism.

AMO isn't something that is on the radar of the average taxpaying resident, but now at least you know a little more about it and what the money went to. What do you think, money well spent?

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