On Monday, representatives of The Regional Municipality of Durham and eight local-tier municipalities participated in interviews with the Province of Ontario’s special advisors to the Regional Government Review process.
All nine heads of council welcomed the opportunity to convey their productive and strong track record; working together to serve their residents. Feedback was provided by Regional Chair and Chief Executive Officer John Henry; and Mayors Shaun Collier, Debbie Bath-Hadden, Adrian Foster, Dan Carter, Dave Ryan, Bobbie Drew, Dave Barton, and Don Mitchell.
Some of the highlights included that Regions, cities and towns are the backbone of service delivery. With an area of more than 2,500 square kilometres, a large rural area in the north and urban south, Durham Region’s two-tier structure ensures that services are planned, funded and delivered in a cost-effective manner, on a broad geographic scale. Municipalities can reap economies of scale and avoid duplication of effort; resulting in equitable, high-quality services that would otherwise be unattainable by smaller communities.
Municipal leaders understand that residents identify with their local municipality—a strong connection that should be preserved. Also clearly defined upper- and local-tier roles and responsibilities allow strengthening in governance and service delivery within communities.
All local-tier governments, and the Region, include continuous improvement as part of their core business. Recent changes in senior leadership and elected officials, across Durham Region, have allowed municipalities to conduct internal service reviews, support innovation, and develop new shared service arrangements. This focus on effectiveness allows the Region and local-tier municipalities to align services where it makes the most sense. A collaborative approach is key to addressing common challenges, such as transportation, broadband connectivity, affordable housing, environmental stewardship, and waste and emergency management.
Durham Region and its municipalities continue to be leaders and advocates for good governance. In 2016, Durham Regional Council proactively redistributed its 28 seats to reflect population changes. At the same time, area municipalities examined and adjusted ward boundaries to ensure a simple and transparent electoral process. Regional Councillors also serve at the municipal level, with the Regional Chair exclusively elected to the upper tier.
Currently, local-tiers respond to local matters, such as planning needs, preferences and demand in the community in areas, such as parks and recreational services, property standards, business licensing, cultural activities and community improvement.
Durham Region delivers services including public health, paramedic services, child care, income and employment support, services for seniors and long-term care, transit, water, the Regional road network, and policing.