Clearview swept up in government review

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Clearview Township is included in a regional government review initiated by the provincial government. 

The review will examine Ontario’s eight regional municipalities – Halton, York, Durham, Waterloo, Niagara, Peel, Muskoka District, and Oxford County – along with the County of Simcoe, and all of their 73 lower-tier municipalities.

The province has said initial interviews with all upper and lower-tier heads of council will happen in early 2019 to elicit individual views and to prepare for group consultations in spring 2019. According to the timeline, local residents and businesses will be consulted in spring 2019.

“Our government committed to improving the way regional government works and we will be looking at ways to make better use of taxpayers’ dollars and make it easier for residents and businesses to access important municipal services,” said Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “[Special advisors] Michael Fenn and Ken Seiling bring a wealth of experience that will help us examine if the way regions are governed is working for the people.”

Clearview Mayor Doug Measures said he has yet to be contacted. 

“This township has been down this road before. The only reason that we exist is because of that word ‘amalgamation’ and I think that after 25 years of going through amalgamation we have reached a good point as a community. I would be really disappointed if we had to go through that again and go through another re-building process,” said Measures. “I appreciate where the province is coming from, however. An important aspect of governing is to always review how you do it and whether you are doing it right.”

He said while it’s always good to review governance, the timeline is a challenge.

The advisory body will develop recommendations for the Minister by early summer 2019 for the purpose of improving governance, decision-making and service delivery in the regions/Simcoe County and their lower-tier municipalities, and actionable options for implementation.

Measures expressed doubt that there will be enough time to consult with 82 municipalities and have recommendations ready by July.

He said municipalities are also dealing with the “Open for Business” Bill 66. 

“It’s admirable but you have to be reflective of what the community wants too and so you have to ask the local municipality where they are, what they want to do and where they’re going and see if it fits within their strategic direction,” said Measures. “We are very, very different from the GTA. There’s no doubt about it, in many ways, socially and culturally. In other ways we are similar in that we have roads to plough, water, garbage, those hard services. They’ll have to really look at governance to be fair to the residents in this part of Ontario.”

He said in reality, we are at the mercy of the province. 

“As Clearview we are simply the subjects of the province. We are here at their pleasure. The decision for us to continue to exist is their decision,” said Measures.

The special advisors are tasked with conducting broad consultation and providing recommendations to improve governance, decision-making and service delivery. They will work with the province to explore: Opportunities to make it easier for residents and businesses to access municipal services; Processes to deliver efficient and effective local services that respects taxpayers’ money; Methods to make municipalities open for business; and, Possibilities to cut red tape and duplication, and save costs.

“We still await details on the structure or scope of the review,” said County of Simcoe Warden George Cornell in a statement, “as a listed participant, we are one of the largest counties in Ontario with a substantive population expected to surpass 500,000 this calendar year. The County of Simcoe provides broad upper-tier services similar to our Regional peers, and we have significant growth pressures due to our proximity to the GTA. Due to our common interests and scope of our services, we already work closely with our regional partners across Ontario and provide responsible and efficient upper-tier government services to our member municipalities and separated cities. It’s important that governments at all levels work to provide efficiencies to taxpayers and we view this as part of that process. We welcome the opportunity to participate and will provide updates to our member municipalities and residents as we receive more information from the province.”

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