Ontario Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark announced the next phase in the province’s review of regional government on Wednesday.
A new online website was launched allowing for public consultation.
“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,” Clark said in a statement.
For many in Waterloo region, this has sparked concerns of amalgamation.
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Clark’s boss, Doug Ford, was in Cambridge on Wednesday and he did little to allay those fears when he was asked about the possibility of changes.
“I just don’t want to discuss that until (Clark) rolls out his plan but what we are trying to do is reduce the size and cost of government right across Ontario,” Ford responded.
Ford went on to provide Niagara region as an example of where he believes there is too much government.
“I was in Niagara region and I spoke to so many business owners that were frustrated, and would you believe that in Niagara region, they have 500,000 people, they have 118 politicians,” he explained.
Later, Ford addressed the red tape that he says multiple levels of government create for businesses.
“It definitely hurts the economy, because when people can’t build and expand, it’s definitely going to hurt jobs,” he said.
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Clark, who launched the review into municipal government in January in a search for ways to cut red tape and inefficiencies, has tasked former Waterloo chair Ken Seiling and former deputy minister Michael Fenn to help with a review. That review is to be prepared by early this summer.
The pair have been on a tour meeting with local politicians throughout the province to look for ways to provide better governance.
They are also charged with going through the feedback provided by the online survey before they present a report to Clark this summer.
Premier Doug Ford introduced legislation in July that cut Toronto’s council from 47 to 25 and cancelled elections for regional chair positions in Peel, York, Muskoka and Niagara regions, turning them back into appointed roles. At the time, critics questioned why only those municipalities were being targeted.
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