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Regional Government Review

Background

The province of Ontario has announced they will be undertaking a review of Ontario’s regional governments in spring 2019. Two Special Advisors have been appointed to consult with stakeholders and examine Ontario’s eight regional governments.

The Province indicated that the review will “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.”

Town Feedback

The following is an excerpt from a memo to Council dated March 19, 2019. To review the complete memo click here.

As an initial step in the consultation process, on March 7th, 2019, Mayor Hackson and CAO Thomas R. Webster participated in a 30 minute information exchange session with the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Special Advisor Ken Seiling, to provide input on the review.

In preparation of the meeting, the Town’s Senior Management Team met several times to prepare the following as a high level overview of the themes to be used as the basis for feedback for the briefing session.

  • In East Gwillimbury, we are very proud of our accomplishments and how our organization is governed and managed effectively. We have a history of the lowest taxes in York Region combined with no municipal debt. We consistently provide high quality programs and services for our residents and businesses and are a leader in municipal best practices. By creating a positive culture the Town has been recognized for achievements in innovation and organizational excellence by a number of organizations including the Canadian Association of Municipal Administrators, Federation of Canadian Municipalities, Ontario Municipal Administrators' Association, and most recently by the Globe and Mail, and Morneau Shepell.
  • We are committed to a culture of innovations and partnerships. The Northern Six municipalities of York Region, comprised of Aurora, East Gwillimbury, Georgina, King, Newmarket and Whitchurch-Stouffville have demonstrated that municipalities can work in a collaborative manner and achieve cost savings and efficiencies for residents, regardless of municipal boundaries and while ensuring specific local needs of residents continue to be met. Through partnerships, the Northern Six has realized over $12 million in savings collectively for our tax payers in areas related to joint waste collection, training, insurance, master plans and audit services, to name a few.

    The Town has also successfully partnered with other levels of government for efficiencies including school boards, for shared spaces and service delivery, and the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority for capital infrastructure and service delivery.

    This culture of collaboration and co-operation is imperative for all levels of government to work together for constituents, regardless of jurisdiction. Moving forward we must stress the importance of partnership, such as the Northern Six, not only continuing, but growing. Other potential service partnerships similar to our current waste collection agreement could be water/wastewater services, storm water management and information management.
  • The review will focus on opportunities for growth and change. We must look to ensure that our residents and stakeholders needs are prioritized as we continue to build complete communities, and new avenues should be considered. An opportunity to improve services and efficiencies both internally and externally would be a review of the alignment of growth management and planning, ensuring there is a focus on the alignment of legislation and requirements from the province, region, and municipalities. Decisions made at the local level must be supported and prioritized at all levels. Alignment of land use planning, infrastructure and financial decisions, has to be better co-ordinated to ensure that employment lands and affordable forms of all types of housing can be delivered at the local level.
  • Combining services through amalgamation is not necessarily the answer, and can often lead to cost increases when aligning service levels. The notion of a services board to provide larger scale services with local municipal representation could be a consideration moving forward.

Provincial Recommendations

On Friday, October 25, the province announced the results of the review which indicated that there would be no changes to the regional and municipal government structure, including no forced amalgamation.

The province also announced that it would be providing up to $143 million to municipalities to help lower costs and improve services for local residents over the long term. It appears that these will be application-based funding streams and we will ensure that staff respond as required to benefit from these funds.

The announcement also indicated that there the province will look to combine the provincial and municipal voters lists, giving Elections Ontario the responsibility of managing the updated list and taking the burden off of municipalities.

Town Response

The provincial government announced on Friday, Oct. 25, as part of the provincial regional government review, that it would not be imposing any changes on municipal governments, including no forced amalgamations. This news was a welcome announcement, and was a topic of discussion at the Northern Six (N6) municipalities of York Region Mayors and Chief Administrative Officers (CAOs) meeting also held on Friday. Each year, the N6 Mayors and CAOs meet to discuss cost-saving initiatives and programs that could be of benefit to all six municipalities in the coming year.

Throughout the province’s review, the special advisors conducting the feedback interviews expressed great interest in the N6 partnerships. By working together, the N6 exemplifies the benefits that a cohesive approach to shared service delivery can create for residents. It is these cross-municipal initiatives that make amalgamation unwarranted.

“Since its inception, the N6 partnership has led the way using an innovative lens to create a successful cross-municipal partnership that achieves proven fiscal savings and shared growth and support. The nature of the partnership allows each municipality to benefit from working together, while maintaining our own unique identity.
The provincial announcement is a reflection of the feedback many municipalities provided – that we already have successful partnerships and programs in place with similar-sized and strategically aligned municipalities. Our number one priority is to ensure that our residents have high quality and affordable programs, and with the recent announcement, we look forward to continuing to prioritize this important work and ensure that we continue to spend residents’ tax dollars wisely,” said Mayor Virginia Hackson.

The N6 partnership, which has been successfully operating since 2005, has worked on a number of award-winning, and cost-effective programs such as a shared waste collection program, which is now in its second 10-year term and has helped the N6 save more than $11 million. In addition, the N6 partnered on the Fire Master Plan and Collaboration and Innovation Report, which identified collaborative cost-sharing and innovative partnership ideas. In 2011, the N6 conducted joint procurement of an insurance provider and retainer of an insurance adjuster resulting in approximately $750,000 in premium savings, during the first year of the project.

Not only do the N6 municipalities create cost-saving measures for residents, they also work together to leverage best practices, and share ideas and information across the municipalities. Moving forward, the N6 is looking at future opportunities to further the partnership and prioritize savings for taxpayers and find municipal efficiencies.

Learn More

To learn more visit the Province's website. links to external site