These are confusing times, times of uncertainty, and if you are in the political world, life seems more reactive than planned. So how do we operate in these constantly changing times? As I stated to my Council, we proceed with the Township following our Strategic Plan, carrying on with the business of the day but with a little more caution.
I have met with the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark numerous times. I have found him to be knowledgeable in regards to small municipalities and to be thorough. Over our numerous discussions and briefs that the Township has presented, we have laid out quite clearly that we do not support amalgamation. It has been said that we need fewer politicians, but for every politician lost, there have been full time staff hired at a greater cost than the politician – Toronto is a prime example.
It is not the fact that amalgamation will prevent small communities from existing; it is that without representation these communities lose identity, without a voice they lose funding for growth, for infrastructure. Large communities have heavy debt, and when the smaller communities are absorbed into the larger amalgamated municipality their finances usually go to the paying down the larger debt, leaving little or no growth to the smaller areas. Flamborough is a prime example of the harm amalgamation can do. A thriving community taken over by Hamilton, they saw a huge tax increase with little to no municipal representation or support.
The Region provides 63% of municipal services but most of these services are funded by the Province with the Region acting as the administrator. This funding used to come directly to the municipality. Brant County is an example of direct funding for services. The Provincial dollars come directly to the County and it provides the services. This is the question in North Dumfries, “When the province funds these services for North Dumfries, are we receiving all of the services that are supposed to come to us?”
I am hoping for a fairer two-tier system. I need to know that when the province sends the Region funding for social services in North Dumfries, that funding gets translated into social services for North Dumfries. North Dumfries is the only municipality in the Region without a regional building to provide social services.
I believe that local planning should be under the jurisdiction of the townships. In many cases the paperwork has been stalled at the Region for months and when it is finally returned, not a single thing has been changed. Libraries should also be run by the townships. The townships pay for the libraries under a separate regional tax and this includes considerable cost for Regional administration.
Libraries, planning and water services should all be run at the local level, both Wellesley and North Dumfries have water under the Region and we pay the highest costs for water within the Region. Again a lot of this cost is administration.
Transit falls under the jurisdiction of the upper tier under the Municipal Act. A transit model for North Dumfries would be quite steep under the Region. An example is Mobility Plus. North Dumfries pays $364,000 per year to the Region for the service. However looking over the past 7 years North Dumfries has only used $64,000 a year for the service. The rest of the money coming from North Dumfries is used by other parts of the Region and yet I hear time and time again North Dumfries residents have called for service and have been told there is none available. After pushing the Region to deal with this situation I have been told it will be addressed in the fall.
The seven municipalities that make up the Waterloo Region need to work together for purchasing power and shared services. Only with mutual respect, fair and equitable treatment can our communities move forward as seven strong entities. These are interesting times and I am uncertain what will happen – but I am hopeful. I will do all I can to fight for our Township. I believe Minister Steve Clark is a fair man and that he is listening, but he needs to hear your voice. Whether you agree with amalgamation or not please go online, fill out the survey.
For more information see: https://www.ontario.ca/page/consultation-regional-government-review
Your voice needs to be heard.