This year, for our third-annual State of the Township fundraising event, I decided to invite Regional Chair Karen Redman to join me for a public conversation about issues that affect the Townships. I wanted to highlight the many ways we, in the Region, collaborate and work together. It is an attitude that has been nurtured over many years, and is the reason why, in my opinion, municipal government doesn’t need major reform in Waterloo Region.
While a single-tier government might intuitively seem like a more efficient and effective model, many areas that have amalgamated have experienced increased taxes and less accessible government. What is not often obvious are the many ways in which we collaborate and work together. At its best, the Regional model allows us to take advantage of combined resources where beneficial, and deliver services that are geared toward the unique character of individual communities.
In Woolwich, we do our best to help residents navigate the bureaucracy regardless of whether the issue is within the lower or upper tier.
The Township Mayors and CAOs meet regularly to discuss areas of mutual concern and how we can collaborate better. Our MPPs Mike Harris and Belinda Karahalios often join us. They know that Waterloo Region is an economic engine for the Province and is successful and prosperous. Is it perfect? Of course not; there is always room to take a good, hard look at how we do business and where it can be improved. Even before the Provincial review, the Townships began to look at a few areas where we can find savings together. We currently have several joint purchasing initiatives and are working together on the development charges background study. Regionally, we have collaborated on tourism, economic development, community alert networks and insurance.
Further to the Provincial review, we are embarking on another process to look for ways the Townships can integrate or share new services to provide additional resources and savings. A report will be presented at our July 30 Committee of the Whole, detailing that process.
Our objective is to always provide accessible, efficient and effective government to our residents. While we will never satisfy everyone all the time, we can accomplish our goals without having to reconfigure the entire system. We can focus our energies on continuing to be a community that is the envy of many.