HALTON TO PROVINCE: “LEAVE US ALONE”
This is an update from our original post: Goodbye Oakville. Goodbye Burlington. Hello City of Halton? Say NO to Amalgamation
Halton council sent a strong message to Queen’s Park opposing any potential municipal amalgamation that could result from the current regional government review. In a unanimous vote on March 27th, regional councillors passed a motion supporting the current two-tier municipal government in Halton.
The resolution put forth by Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward goes on to assert that any changes by the province to the local structure would be “disruptive and wasteful.” “Our essential message to the province is, don’t fix what’s not broken,” said Mayor Meed Ward. “But even more importantly than that, let Halton be your gold standard model for what regional government looks like. I think we’ve set a new standard of excellence in governance.”
The motion also received support from We Love Oakville, a grassroots group of 11 residents’ associations in Oakville who have come together to support the current system in Halton. Ted Haugen, who spoke on behalf of We Love Oakville, explained that the group feel amalgamation would be costly and result in lost decision-making power, quality of life and efficiency in services. A sentiment echoed by others around the regional council table.
Halton Hills Mayor Rick Bonnette pointed to the budget woes the City of Toronto faced after amalgamation – a move that also hit Halton residents as millions in “downloading” costs were levied locally to help the city pay for its services during the financially trying times. “Amalgamation is not going to save money,” he asserted. “The bigger you are, the more you cost.”
Oakville Mayor Rob Burton says the opposition of over one thousand residents to amalgamation has been noticed at Queen’s Park, but more is needed. “My sources downtown tell me this is being noticed,” said Burton. “But we haven’t sent enough to get them to give up.” Mayor Burton said the Province’s special advisors have said that decision would be made in the summer. Burton said he fears the access to councillors and therefore the voice many residents enjoy on council could diminish if the Halton municipalities are amalgamated.
The motion passed by regional council will now be forwarded to Premier Doug Ford and all members of provincial parliament, along with the Association of Municipalities of Ontario and Halton’s four local municipalities, the latter of which have all endorsed similar resolutions in recent weeks.
“We are going to send a clear, united message from all our municipalities that Halton Region is running properly,” said regional chair Gary Carr. “Leave us alone – we’re doing a good job. And will all due respect, if other municipalities want to look at us, they can actually learn from us.”
The online government review has been extended to May 21st so there is still time to have your say at https://www.ontario.ca/form/survey-regional-government-review.