On March 31st, 2021, the ELN brought together a panel of civic leaders from Brampton to discuss the city’s current and future priorities as it looks to not only recover from COVID-19 but build back better. The panel featured:
- Jaipaul Massey-Singh, Moderator: 2020 CivicAction DiverseCity Fellow and Principal at Aurora Strategy Group
- Gwyn Chapman: Senior Advisor, Economic Empowerment & Anti-Black Racism at the City of Brampton
- Councillor Rowena Santos: Wards 1 & 5 Regional Councillor, Brampton City Council and Region of Peel Council
- Marilyn Verghis: Founder and Executive Director at Vision Brampton and Team Lead for Equity, Inclusion and Anti-Discrimination at the William Osler Health System
- Yvonne Yeung: Manager of Urban Design at the City of Brampton
Following an engaging panel discussion and participant Q&A, we turned to our audience of rising leaders through interactive discussion groups to hear their reflections and learn more about their ideas on how together we can rebuild a stronger, more inclusive city. If you missed this important discussion, you can watch the recording or keep reading to find the top five key takeaways that we heard from the panel and audience.
Here are the five key takeaways from the discussion:
1. Public perception doesn’t match its progress—it’s time to recognize Brampton’s impact & continued potential
Brampton’s diverse communities offer countless opportunities for growth and innovation, and the city’s many dedicated civic leaders are driving change forward. Yet, public perception of the city fails to showcase this, focusing more on its challenges than its successes and hindering the city’s ability to fulfil its potential. This issue was exacerbated during the pandemic as Brampton struggled with COVID-19 outbreaks, largely affecting the high percentage of essential and front-line workers living and working in the city who help people in the region as a whole. It’s time for the narrative to shift towards the community resilience demonstrated throughout the pandemic and the untapped talent ready to shine.
2. The pandemic highlighted the importance of equity as we build back better
Throughout the pandemic government policies have mainly been a ‘one-size-fits-all approach, lacking recognition of the unique needs of many cultural communities and ultimately adversely affected racialized communities—with the majority of those infected in the Peel Region being people of color. As Brampton works to rebuild a more inclusive economy, it’s essential that equity is at the core of every change. From policy makers to community members – everyone must be deliberate in including the voices of those who haven’t been heard, or listened to, before, designing solutions not just for them, but with them.
3. City-building is a team sport—to win, everyone needs to be able to play
Building affordable cities is key to leveling the playing field and providing access to opportunities for all residents. One example of how Brampton is prioritizing affordability is the city’s 2040 Vision plan, which aims to create a transit-oriented community for over a million people. Lessening the need for vehicles will decrease transportation costs and improve mobility in and outside of the city, achieving both financial and environmental gains that will better the city for all.
4. Technological investment will be central to the city’s growth
Brampton is one of the fastest-growing cities in Canada, with a growth rate that is three times the provincial average. Technology will be a key part of managing the future of a growing city, with the 2040 Vision prioritizing a “technology lens” to build a smarter city that cuts costs and increases efficiencies. These technological developments are already underway. During the pandemic, Brampton was the first city in Ontario to launch a virtual inspection program for buildings. This is just one example of how Brampton’s investments in technology will set the standard for smart city infrastructures around the world.
5. Community engagement is key to the future of Brampton
Although Brampton is classified as a city, according to our panel, it often feels more like a community. Building community coalitions, investing time and energy locally, and increasing civic engagement will help propel the city’s prosperity forward, particularly for marginalized communities and youth who have historically been under-represented at City Hall. In doing so, we can all play an important role in building a future for Brampton that is inclusive of all voices, perspectives, and ideas
The conversation doesn’t stop here. To stay engaged with Brampton, check out: