The Ontario government recently announced the regional and municipal boundaries we have come to know and, well, not love but be comfortable with, are likely to change. But big heads in government said they would not amalgamate, blend, sever, change or do any other things without consultation. Well, the time for consultation has officially come with an announcement March 13 that invited the public in 82 upper and lower-tier municipalities in southern Ontario to have their say. With the prospect of entire municipalities being erased from the map, you can bet many will indeed have their say.
“We promised the people of Ontario that all levels of government would work harder, smarter and more efficiently,” said Steve Clark, municipal affairs and housing minister. “Our government is putting people first by seeking local input on how to improve governance, decision-making and service delivery for regional governments and their member municipalities.”
That promise of efficiency harkens back to the last round of restructuring that was initiated in the Mike Harris government years. To this day, there are sworn haters and lovers of what was done then. Expect no different this time and expect municipalities to be wary and others enthusiastic.
Places like Mississauga openly welcomed the news with a core of elected officials and administrators lobbying to separate from Peel, but with the door wide open there are no guarantee things will work the way they hope either. At the first mention of consultations, city officials seemed cautious about possible changes but did not reject the premise. But for thriving places like Markham, there might be little appetite for change.
What is different this time around is while there will be formal meetings with “stakeholder groups” however they are defined, every member of the public can have their say too via an online survey that is open until April 23.
Image: Municipal reconstruction: how will the pieces fall?