Mayor, deputy mayor support examining gov’t operations
By Jenn Watt
Published Jan. 22, 2019
The mayor and deputy mayor of Dysart et al say they are supportive of examining the structure and operations of the current two-tier municipal system in search of efficiencies – though that doesn’t necessarily lead to amalgamation.
The provincial PC government launched a governance review of 82 municipalities in the province last week. The reviews are being conducted by two experts in municipal governance and although no agenda has been set, questions to be answered include whether two-tier structures are appropriate, if the distribution of councillors represents the population well; and if services are allocated efficiently.
The District of Muskoka, which includes Bracebridge, Huntsville, Lake of Bays and Gravenhurst, is one of the municipalities being reviewed.
“I do think we need to have the discussion about how we can serve the people of Haliburton County as efficiently as possible,” Andrea Roberts, Dysart et al mayor, said via email. “One of the outcomes might be amalgamation but it may not be. There are so many factors involved.”
She envisioned a task force set up by the county including councillors and experts who could examine the facts and look at an implementation plan.
Dysart Deputy Mayor Patrick Kennedy said that he was in favour of finding cost savings and improving services, but didn’t think one tier was always the best solution.
“The argument in favour of moving to single tier is that services delivered by one, larger body will provide greater value for money for residents and more efficient public services. Many research papers have found that not to be the case, in fact some have become more expensive,” Kennedy said in response to questions from the Echo.
He said Haliburton County Warden Liz Danielsen had committed to a review of services and he supported her direction.
Kennedy said he envisioned the process to start with hiring a consultant to review the current situation, reporting back to council, which would then have a conversation about next steps, which could include new roles for upper and lower tiers or a move to one tier.
Roberts said it was best that county council begin the conversation themselves.
“No one wants to be forced into it if it isn’t what we want, but it would be best to be proactive now and start our own conversation. We know our community best,” she said.