Not only is municipal amalgamation on the table - The Lovelies believe it was never off and that mapping is being done as we speak.

News 100 blueBy Staff

August 19th, 2019

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Those good folks at “We Love Burlington” believe, as do many municipal leaders and other community groups, that amalgamation is not only “on the table”, but likely was never off it.

We love logoPerhaps the strategy of throwing so many pieces of legislation out at once is meant to make it impossible to keep up with all of them, and impossible to study each one carefully. This seems to be the theme of the provincial government to date.

31 days

They really took a piece of Legislation from the Order Paper to the pen of the Lieutenant Governor in 31 days.

There was Bill 5, which carried the amendments to the Municipal Act, the Municipal Elections Act and the City of Toronto Act (an omnibus bill) which allowed Premier Ford to reduce the size of Toronto Council in the midst of the 2018 Municipal election. We have written extensively (as have many others) about the disastrous “Developers’ Dream Bill”, Bill 108, which went from First Reading to Royal Assent in only 31 days, and as one municipal leader recently aptly put it to us “the outrages with the Bill are so numerous, you get numb.”

These are illustrative of the unilateral power over municipal structures and governance that the province can and is wielding. They are also examples of what the province can easily do to effect regional restructuring.

On August 8th, Premier Ford was in Fonthill and at an impromptu press conference, stated that amalgamation is going ahead in Ontario. The following was taken from a QP Briefing article that was published in the Toronto Star later that day: “A freewheeling Premier Doug Ford gave a clear indication that some Ontario municipalities can expect amalgamation in the near future. The premier decried the number of politicians in the Niagara Region as he spontaneously chose to field questions from reporters at an announcement in Fonthill.

Ford in Pelham - bubbles

On this occasion the Premier was helping a child blow bubbles – most of the time many think he is just blowing smoke.

When asked by a local reporter about the potential amalgamation that could affect the Niagara region and many other Ontario municipalities, Ford led off by saying it’s under review by Municipal Affairs Minister Steve Clark, but then outlined what outcome makes sense to him. “Minister Clark is going to be rolling that out over the next little while,” But then Ford said that he would prefer fewer politicians, based on what he’s heard from residents. “Go door-knocking in the area. It’s almost comical. You’ve got 136 politicians for 400,000 people. Something’s wrong,” said the premier.

The premier argued it’s a matter of saving money. “That’s just wasting taxpayers’ money. But I have all the confidence in the world in Minister Clark to straighten out any of those issues, and make sure we respect the taxpayers and run a leaner, more efficient government,” he said. He added that residents have told him they don’t like the number of politicians they have. “I’ve heard it from them — they aren’t too happy about that.”

Interesting as well was the comment made by the Premier when he addressed the Halton Chambers of Commerce at a Burlington event.

As he was reading out the names of the municipal Councillors in the room he paused as he was going through the list of those from Oakville and said: “Gee you got a lot of council members in Oakville.”

There was a palpable shudder that went through the room.

Study after study, including the 2015 Fraser Report that studied Ontario amalgamations (https://www.fraserinstitute.org/research/municipal-amalgamation-ontario) say that in fact, prior Ontario amalgamations resulted in “significant increases in property taxes, remuneration and long-term debt.” We attach, for those who may not have seen it before, the text of our delegation to the regional reviewers in May, which outlines our concerns more specifically. The continued downloading onto municipalities does not serve the citizenry; there is only one taxpayer.

This week the core of basically every municipality in the province is in Ottawa at the AMO conference. We are aware of one Halton municipal Councillor who is “taking the Missus” with him – there is a man who knows how to have a good time.

The Ministry of Municipal Affairs announced that the Minister will be addressing the AMO crowd; Councillors will be listening with baited breath.

We love B Prov Rev

The Lovelies: Debra Rouse, Lynn Crosby, Blair Smith and Josie Wagstaffe after a visit to Queen’s Park

The Lovelies (a colloquial description for the We Love Burlington band of advocates) believe that “the threat of amalgamation is very real and that new mapping of the 82 municipalities is already being carried out. We believe that there will either be amalgamation of our four Halton municipalities (Burlington, Oakville, Milton, Halton Hills) into the City of Halton, with likely only six councillors and a mayor for a population of 600,000 people (the same ratio of councillors to citizens that the City of Toronto now has, and which aligns with Premier Ford’s recent comments that in the corporate world, an ideal size of a board of directors is 7 to 9) or that the provincial government will maintain the local identities, but take away much of the local authority. This in effect would have much the same result as full amalgamation.”

Steve Clark Minister of Muni affairs Ontario

Steve Clark: Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

It will be interesting to hear what the Minister has to say on Wednesday and whether or not his views align with the report due from the Provincial Review panel that listened to all the municipalities and have a report that was to be released in July.

The release date was moved back until after the federal election in October.

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2 comments to Not only is municipal amalgamation on the table – The Lovelies believe it was never off and that mapping is being done as we speak.

  • We Love Burlington

    Thank you Burlington Gazette for including parts of our most recent email update. We formed in April and have to date sent 19 email updates out to our growing list of supporters/interested parties. As we said, we are very concerned about what we are hearing and seeing, which points to amalgamation in Halton in some form.

    We urge people to visit our facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/weloveburlingtonstopamalgamation/) or send us an email at weloveburlingtonasis@gmail.com to get a link to letter details.

    The province is doing much to take away our local voice. Use yours while you still have it!

  • Steve

    The joining of, Burlington, Oakville, Milton, and Halton Hills, is one scenario, the other is Hamilton swallowing Burlington up. They’ve tried it before, and Burlington had to switch to a city to avoid it, and lost it’s beloved status as Canada’s largest town I solidly prefer the first choice, if push comes to shove.

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