Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie is the new chair of the Ontario’s Big City Mayors caucus.
She replaces Guelph Mayor Cam Guthrie who served as chair for parts of the last four years.
Crombie officially took over as chair at the first meeting of the new term of council on Dec. 2. Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward is the new vice-chair.
Guthrie explains there is a planned succession where the vice-chair automatically takes over as chair of the caucus every two years. The new vice-chair would then be elected by their peers.
Then-Barrie mayor Jeff Lehman originally succeeded Guthrie as chair in 2020 with Crombie elected as vice-chair. But Lehman had other plans and stepped down as caucus chair and mayor of Barrie shortly thereafter.
“Only a few months into being chair, (Lehman) declared he was running for the Liberals in the 2022 Ontario election,” said Guthrie. “Because of that, the caucus voted for me to come back as chair.”
Even though Guthrie is no longer caucus chair, he says he expects to continue working on behalf of the caucus as past-chair.
“It’s a new role that was created to allow me to be involved in inter-governmental relations, advocacy work, and speak to upper levels of government.”
Moments after taking over as chair from Guthrie, Crombie found herself thrown to the wolves after she and other mayors expressed their opposition to the Ford government’s legislation (Bill 23) aimed at circumventing municipal avenues in order to add thousands of more homes in Ontario.
“Everyone must play their part in addressing the housing affordability crisis and that includes developers,” said Crombie in a statement on her website. “If they are being incentivized to build more affordable housing, there needs to be legislation in place to ensure those savings are passed on to the homebuyer. Taxpayers should not fund developer profits.”
In response, Premier Doug Ford said Crombie and other municipal leaders should “stop whining” and “get on board.”
Despite the political turbulence being generated, Guthrie is confident that Crombie will be successful in her term as chair of Ontario’s Big City Mayors caucus.
“She’s been doing great, especially in the last couple of weeks,” said Guthrie. “There are big issues that need to be dealt with and she will be our spokesperson for the group.”
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