Regional Councillor

Brampton Wards 1 & 5

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Regional Councillor Brampton Wards 1 & 5

(Part 1) The Home Buying Dream: An Immigrant Story

My parents moved to Canada from the Philippines in the mid 1970s. They worked hard to raise 3 daughters and saved enough to buy a home in the 1980s for $94,000. It was a cozy 3-bedroom single-detached house with a big backyard at Professor’s Lake in Brampton. I was 5 years old and still remember the smell of lumber when we visited the construction site. The City of Brampton was just 10 years old with a population of 150,000 people.

My aunt and uncle also bought a house down the street and my mom’s best friend bought her house next door. My cousins and I would walk to the nearby plaza to an Italian bakery, and we would get candy from the variety store. Like many immigrants, my mom worked full-time and my dad worked 2 jobs while studying to become a professional accountant. We were fortunate to have my grandmother at home to help care for me and my sisters. In the 1990s, we were able to move into a larger four-bedroom house in the city’s “N” section. It was a 2,100 sqft house that cost $240,000.
My parents continue living the immigrant dream. They recently retired and downsized to a condo. They made the difficult decision to start a new life almost 50 years ago here with no guarantees for the future. I am in awe of how they persevered. My sisters and I truly had it easier because of their sacrifices. We are all educated, working and raising children in our own homes here in Brampton because of them. The immigrant story of my parents can be repeated millions of times by those that followed a similar path to Canada. That story is about family and hard work. My dad says it was his job to invest in his children and his return on that investment is seeing his grandchildren thrive. As Brampton celebrates 50 years as a city in 2024, are we still all able to thrive as my parents did? Can the dream of every immigrant coming to Canada still be fulfilled? Can the rest of us who were born here still look to the future as a place where hard work translates into home ownership and being able to raise a family that thrives. And what about the young people who need answers and solutions right now, or those that have been unable to keep up and facing homelessness Brampton is a microcosm of Canada and our resilience is being tested. We are growing rapidly and will overtake Vancouver and Mississauga in population in the very near future. Immigration drives our growth as it did when my parents moved here. We are the youngest city in the country with a median age of 36. Residents here live in harmony and represent more than 250 cultures and speak more than 170 languages. Our diverse demographic is fueling our entrepreneurship and innovation. Our city’s resilience is now being put to the test after decades of underfunding and downloading of services from other orders of government. Nothing illustrates this more than our reliance on a single Emergency Department to serve our population of 700,000+ people. Our city declared a healthcare emergency before the pandemic even hit and we were the poster child for hallway healthcare. During the pandemic, immigrants kept our logistics and food processing industries going to support the rest of Canada while putting themselves at higher risk for COVID-19 infection.
Brampton's Population Growth 1974-2023
50000 +

This immigrant spirit to do more with less, to work hard, and to overcome challenges can never be taken for granted. As a Councillor, part of my role is to share with you what’s happening now in Brampton at the municipal order of government in Canada. We face affordability challenges and all orders of government must work together to keep the Canadian dream from fading away. The pandemic exposed systemic issues in our economy and the inequitable allocation of resources to Brampton. Chronic underfunding over decades is directly linked to homelessness and mental health issues that many are facing and that affect all of us.

Engage with me in this article series and share your ideas about how we can solve the housing crisis and keep the immigrant dream alive.