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Ford says phone 'ringing off the hook' from other mayors want out of regional governments

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Premier Doug Ford says that his phone “has been ringing off the hook” with other mayors who also want their independence from wider regional governments, following the introduction of legislation to break up the Region of Peel.

Ford made the comment to reporters during a press conference in St. Catharines on Friday as he discussed his government’s intention to allow Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon to operate as independent cities by 2025.

“I am not going to name names. That is not fair to them. But everyone wants to call their own shots and I don’t disagree with them,” Ford said of the calls. “Maybe it goes back to my roots on (Toronto) city council. I always hated upper tier governments dictating here, there or the other thing. We are there to support them (municipalities), we are there to fund them but they have to make decisions themselves.”

In November, the Ford government appointed facilitators to assess the regional governments in Durham, Halton, Niagara, Peel, Waterloo and York and determine “the best mix of roles and responsibilities between the upper and lower-tier municipalities in those regions.”

While it is not clear what the Ford government will ultimately do with the other regions, Ford said on Friday that “nothing happens without sitting down and listening to the cities and towns” first.

“The mayors have to get out there, the regions have to get out there and really ask for it,” he said. “I am not going to put the hammer on anyone.”

Mississauga has long pushed for independence from Peel Region, dating back to the tenure of Hazel McCallion.

Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown, meanwhile, has expressed concerns that his taxpayers will lose out in a divorce due to the millions they have poured into shared infrastructure.

Ford, however, insisted on Friday that both cities will ultimately benefit from the dissolution of Peel.

“My exact words to both of them: Mayor Crombie you should be doping cartwheels all the way down Highway 10 and when I talked to Mayor Brown I said ‘you should be doing cartwheels all the way down Highway 410 because it gives them their independence, it gives them the strong mayor powers,” Ford said “Let’s empower local government.”

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