What proportionate funding should look like

Back in March, the Province and the Feds announced new transit funding, $20.1 billion for public transit. If those funds were distributed per capita, as in based on the population of a city, what would it look like?

Population of Brampton: 593,638
Population of Mississauga: 713,443
Ratio: 0.83207488194 to 1
Transit Funding to Brampton: $349,740,113
Transit Funding to Mississauga: $618,672,709
Ratio: 0.5653071614639462 to 1

Transit funding is only one of a number of portfolios where Brampton is not being treated proportionally.

Advocating for fair treatment requires a long term strategy of advocacy, starting with developing a working relationship with our local MP’s and MPP’s. Interfacing with our elected representatives, the Board of Trade and other business associations, and organizations like CFIB, will be a key priority for me to unlock progress on Tranist, Health Care, Policing and other areas that are effectively joint projects of the City working with other levels of government.

City Hall certainly has the space and resources to strike up a regular Joint Session with representatives of all stakeholders to meet on a regular basis to discuss Brampton’s needs and the best way to address them moving forward.  As Mayor, I will ensure that Brampton invests in positivie and productive outreach, communication and networking measures to keep the City moving forward, without fear of being left out of the discussion on any other important portfolios.

On why I chose not to buy Lawn Signs

It’s true. I did not buy lawn signs. Here’s why.

I chose, early on my campaign, that I wanted to run a different kind of campaign.

First and foremost, I decided to run a friendly and clean campaign. I was going to focus on ideas and proposals, real policy initiatives that I believed would improve Brampton and help bring relief to every day residents.

Second, I decided to run a cost-effective campaign. I was going to focus on effective engagement strategies that did not require a lot of money to be spent. My website is a free wordpress site. My phone is a virtual IP Phone number. My email address is a free Microsoft Outlook address. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and of course meeting people in person, are all free to inexpensive ways of communicating my message. When I hosted meet and greet fireside chats, I did them at venues that agreed to give me table space but not force me to order a minimum amount of food or beverages. I attended events with no cover charge or admission prices. I conducted Wes Walks, which are free other than the wear and tear on my shoes.

To date, I have kept my spending under $2,500 more or less. I have really limited the use of paper and plastic to business cards and a small batch of flyers. I have avoided Mail out cards or door hangers, and yes, I chose not to order lawn signs. I just couldn’t justify spending $3 to $6 on a piece of plastic that would sit on a lawn for 25 days just to end up in the landfill or recycling plant. It would have cost me more money than I have already spent if I wanted to order enough signs to make a difference.

It is definitely a radical approach, as I appreciate that most people have come to expect to see those things. Having said all of that, hopefully I have had an enough of an impact on people that it won’t bite me the behind on election day, October 22nd.

Thank you to everyone who has reached out to ask me for a Lawn Sign.

 

(Authors Note: If you like, I can supply you with a full size & full color flyer that you can display in your front window. Those only cost about $0.10 and can be recycled very easily.)

On why we need an Infill Advisory Review Board

As part of my platform to drive growth and prosperity in Every Corner of Brampton, I have called for the formation of a Land Assembly and Infill Advisory Review Panel, and I wanted to explain the background for that proposal. I believe that we need to intensify the Four Corners Commercial District, and one of the biggest challenges to that goal is the existing land use policies in the Area.

I see a lot of misinformation in the marketplace about the economics of Infill Projects, and I wanted to show everyone a walk-through of the small land assembly project that I tried to put together in 2014.

There were four homeowners involved, and all four parcels of land added together to form a 1 Acre Parcel of Land in the area of Centre Street and Queen Street … a prime area to do a Land Assembly. There were 3 nearly identical smaller lots, each with 1 house on it, and 1 large lot with a single house on it.

Infill land assembly case study (2014) 
Four Homes: Value in 2014 Total Land Area
Small House 1  $365,000.00 .2 acres
Small House 2  $365,000.00 .2 acres
Small House 3  $365,000.00 .2 acres
Large Lot 4  $810,000.00 .4 acres
Total:  $1,907,014.00 1 acre
Proposed Infill Use 2014 Value Future Expected Sale Price
14 Townhouses*  $ 360,000.00  $400,000.00
*Based on Secondary Plan allowance for townhomes, against zoned use of single family detached
*Switch to townhouses low risk, but required permission
Cost to build per unit
Builder Sales (15% of sales)  $  60,000.00
Sales Commission on project basis  $  10,000.00
Soft Costs (park land, financing)  $ 30,000.00
Construction Cost ($100 pr sq ft 1,500 sq ft)  $ 150,000.00
Levies and Development charges  $  35,000.00
Rough Site Servicing costs  $  20,000.00
Land development/ design/engineering  $  15,000.00
Total Costs Per Unit:  $320,000.00
To determine a Land Acquisition Allowance, one works backwards from the Future Sales Price, as follows: 
Future Value $400,000 – Less costs $320,000 =  $  80,000.00 per unit
Times 14 units =  $1,120,000.00 Total Allowance
Based on the percentage of land owned, the price the Builder would pay for the land under the current secondary zoning (as it was) for each home owner worked out to:
Allowance  Fair Market Value Shortfall
Small House 1  $ 224,000.00 $365K $141K
Small House 2  $ 224,000.00 $365K $141K
Small House 3  $ 224,000.00 $365K $141K
Large Lot 4  $ 448,000.00 $810 K $362K
$1,120,000.00 $1,905,000 $785K
To make the project work, the Homeowners couldn’t be offered Fair Market Value under existing zoning.

To get to Fair Market Value, the Builder would need to build another 10 townhouses, as follows:

Existing FMV $1,907,014.00
Value of 14 Townhouses $1,120,000.00
Difference to be made up with more units:  $ 787,014.00
 At $80,000 per unit, $787,014/$80,000*= 9.84 Additional Units needed

a 70% increase

*Exclusive of additional planning and legal fees for a planning or zoning variance. 

All of these numbers assume that all units are built outside of the Flood Plain / Special Policy Area that requires substantial additional construction costs.

The reality for us was, unless we wanted to fund a rezoning application, it would be very difficult to convince a Builder to engage in the process of a Land Assembly Project under the Current Zoning.  And anyone who thinks its easy to just rezone a property for higher density uses needs only to stop by Heart Lake and see how the project at Conestoga and Sandalwood is coming along.

The land values in Downtown Brampton simply don’t lend themselves to Infill Development. And while we are promised that the LRT will trigger a wave of such development, the fact is, LRT’s only increase property values and make the requirement of intensification all the more potent a commercial reality.

So, to actually capitalize on the arrival of the LRT in Downtown Brampton, no matter what route is selected to get the LRT from Steeles to the GO Station, Brampton has to be ready to discuss the elephant sized Development Charges, Park Space Requirements, and Site Servicing Costs in the room. Unless and until we are prepared to make a profitable formula for developers to start projects, it won’t matter if we have an LRT and All Day Two Way GO Service, there won’t be any redevelopment of our already built out Downtown Area.

We need to start with As Of Right Zoning, meaning that Developers will know that they are not limited to Single Family Detached Housing; but that they will be able to build the medium density housing that will make the numbers work (those extra 10 units mean stacked townhouses or courtyard apartments); that the Etobicoke Creek Trail will be counted toward the minimum green space requirements; and that site servicing and development charges will be in subject to review to be a reasonable percentage of the Fair Market Value of the resulting units created (ie: for the end result to be marketable in Brampton, developers can’t be limited to sub 700 sq ft spaces by the operation of the punitive escalation in Development Charges for 3 and 4 bedroom units).

My Infill Panel will work with Homeowners to identify area residents that are willing to engage in a Land Assembly Project, connect them with the information they need to assess impartial financial projects for a project, and make sure that the City’s Zoning is amenable to converting existing Land Uses to the Highest and Best Use to maximize not only Fair Market Value for homeowners, but to maximize land use in our Downtown to start building a truly exciting and vibrant area of our City for both residents and businesses.

That is how we are going to build a downtown that we can be proud of, and how we are going to bring our Dreams to Life.

Wesley Jackson for Mayor.

 

Leadership

Brampton is at an interesting cross-roads. The sitting provincial government has flexed it might against Ontario’s own capital city. One wonders what is in store for Brampton under the current leadership.  One wonders if Brampton ought to furl our sails until a more gentle wind blows across the bow.

Brampton has needs and wants.  Steady leadership is needed to communicate those needs to a Conservative Queen’s Park that will want to understand the business case behind our requests for support and funding. The long game is achieving success for our City in health care, policing, education, housing, and transportation.

We are not at War with the Province.  We are partners at the same table.  Getting to Yes is about aligning the stakeholders’ priorities in such a way that all partners can achieve their goals, both the Province and the City of Brampton. By positioning our goals in alignment with the Province’s goals of lean, efficient government, there is no reason to think we need to start a War to advance our agenda.

As a lawyer, I’ve been representing clients for 15 years in all sorts of negotiations. Be it wrongful dismissal lawsuits, insurance claims for dog bites, or settling the terms of business mergers, I’ve always been able to find the path to positive and mutually beneficial negotiated outcomes. As Mayor, with all of Brampton as my proverbial client, I look forward to finding more such outcomes on our major portfolios.

 

 

Taking action for the Arts

On a personal note, I have permission to share a personal detail about my spouse. My wife has a B.FA in theatre from York University, so I am well aware that there is great value in being a patron of the arts. Which is why I am a big proponent of the city’s Arts and Culture Master Plan, and will work to see its implementation.

But there is more work to do and building from the plan is a long term priority.

One of the mysteries of the last four years has been “what are you planning?” in reference to City Hall. When I was speaking with staff at the Beaux Arts Gallery on Main Street, it was shocking to me that no one had even communciated the status of the sale of the Robson Block to the Beaux Art Executive. Is it sold? If so, when are things moving? If not, what next? I will work to change the city’s relationship with the arts community. Communication will be a priority for me moving forward.

In addition, i believe we need to work with our artistic community to create more “maker spaces.” Be it performance art, visual arts, photography, stand up comedy, theatre, cgi, animation, music, film, etc., developing spaces for artists to practice their craft can only help elevate the careers of our artists; and in fact, the city’s reputation as well. After all, the arts bring as much attention to our city as our Sports Teams, if not more. I’ll put Russell Peters and Alessia Cara up against The Beast any day in terms of elevating our city’s profile.

Be it through partnerships with Sheridan, Algoma or our Library system, I believe there are numerous ways we can find spaces within our existing infrastructure to support both professional and amateur arts; in addition to finding more long range maker space opportunities. I would point out that there has been very vocal support for “Lab B”, a business incubator space; so it only follows that a model can be developed to create an artistic incubator space as well. I am excited to work on such an initiative.

The arts pay dividends in civic pride, enhancing our external reputation, and if managed intelligently, direct tangible economic benefits as well.

Let’s Take Action in support of the arts, let’s elect Wesley Jackson.