Province backs down on amalgamation
Municipal officials say they are pleased by the news that the province will not force amalgamation on municipalities.
Following a municipal government review, the Government of Ontario has said it stands firm in its commitment to partnering with municipalities without pursuing a top-down approach, instead providing municipalities with the resources to support local decision-making.
Ontario is making $143 million available to the 444 municipalities to help them find smarter, more efficient ways to operate and focus spending on vital programs and services for Ontarians.
“We are committed to helping and empowering municipalities to become more efficient and effective, so they can make every dollar count,” said Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “This investment supports the province’s commitment to reduce the cost of government, while maintaining quality services the people of Ontario expect from all levels of government.”
This year, the government conducted a review of Ontario’s eight regional governments and Simcoe County. Over 8,500 submissions were received and the special advisors, Michael Fenn and Ken Seiling, attended nine in-person sessions and listened to ideas from individuals and organizations on how to improve their local governments.
County of Simcoe Warden George Cornell said the province listened to the concerns and comments of county council and member municipalities and thanks the minister for having an open minded and collaborative approach to this process.
“We must see this announcement as an opportunity for county council to come back together and build on some of the very meaningful ideas that we have considered with respect to improved governance and service delivery efficiency across our region,” said Cornell.
“While the county is always implementing efficiencies and improvements, the announcement makes it clear that the province is willing to financially and morally support us and our municipalities in furthering these efforts. The extension of the provincial modernization fund and the opportunity to work with the province to help shape our future is positive.”
The province has said it will also launch a consultation with municipalities about whether to align the municipal and provincial fiscal year and the government is proposing to eliminate duplication by combining the provincial and municipal voters lists, giving Elections Ontario the responsibility of managing the updated list and taking the burden off of municipalities.
“In my first provincial ministers delegation as mayor, I met with Minister Clark to discuss the concerns raised about the voters list after our clerk had many complicated discrepancies to deal with during our election,” said Clearview Mayor Doug Measures. “Minister Clark was supportive of our ask to combine the provincial list with the municipal list and appoint Elections Ontario as the lead approval agency. I could see that Minister Clark truly understands municipal government and listened to our suggestions. The Regional Government Review has brought us forward in municipal cooperation and endorsed the suggestions from the County of Simcoe that we are fully capable to serve the citizens and residents.”
Queen’s Park photo