On January 1, 1974, the Region of Halton was created. At the same time, Burlington, with a population of just over 100,000 was incorporated as a City.
Nearly 46 years later, the Government of Ontario is conducting the first-ever review of regional government to consider the effectiveness and efficiency of the two-tier structure in terms of governance and service delivery.
The review will examine all eight of Ontario’s regional municipalities - Halton, York, Durham, Waterloo, Niagara, Peel, Muskoka District, and Oxford County, the County of Simcoe, and their lower-tier municipalities.
The review is well underway. The government appointed special advisors, Michael Fenn and Ken Seiling, are gathering input from numerous elected and appointed municipal officials and stakeholders. They will deliver their report and recommendations to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing this summer.
In consultation with municipalities and the public, the special advisors will work with the province to determine:
- If the way regions are governed is working well and supporting the future prosperity of local residents and businesses;
- How to make it easier for communities to access municipal services, such as public health, public transit, and building permits;
- How to deliver efficient and effective local services
- Opportunities to cut red tape and duplication, and save costs.
Each region and its member municipalities have their own specific needs and priorities. That’s exactly why we are seeking advice on how to make better use of taxpayers’ dollars in each specific context.
I believe that Regional Government has served the people of Burlington well, but we can always do better. By building on what’s working, we can improve how our local government works in Burlington and across the region.
Our focus is making sure regional governments are working hard and working smart to deliver services. We want ideas and we are listening. That’s why we will continue to gather input from local leaders, stakeholders, communities and organizations.
Critics of the government’s review of regional government claim that we have already made up our minds. That is simply not true. I want to clarify that the outcomes of the review are not predetermined.
I can’t over emphasize the fact that this is not an exercise to amalgamate municipalities. It’s worth pointing out that in the Municipal Act, if two municipalities want to have that conversation, they're free to do so. This is not the subject or the objective of this regional governance review.
The Ontario government will review the advisors’ recommendations when their work is complete. As part of this review, the Ontario government will learn what is working well and where there may be room for improvement.
As your MPP, I want to hear from you, that’s why I’ve launched an online survey on Making Local Government Work Better. What would you like to see happen as a result of this review? How can we improve municipal government in Burlington and across Halton Region?
Your feedback will be shared with both the Premier and the Advisory Board conducting the Regional Government Review. I’ll also table a summary of the results in the Ontario Legislature.
Please share your thoughts at https://share.janemckennampp.ca/local-government. You can also participate in the Regional Government Review at https://Ontario.ca/regionalgovernment.
Jane McKenna is the MPP for Burlington.