A longtime rural resident, I use my 60 plus years of life learning to opinionate here and elsewhere on the “interweb” on everything from politics to environmental issues. A believer in reasonable discourse rather than unhelpful attacks I try to give positive input to the blogesphere, so feel free to comment upon rural issues or anything else posted here. But don’t be surprised if you comments get zapped if you are not polite in your replys.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Single Tier Grey County Government.

The Owen Sound Mayor has raised the question of the possibility of going to single tier regional government in Grey County saying that it has 'worked' on other areas and has in fact contacted the minister responsible in that regard. As a rural resident in Grey I must say that I am deeply concerned with such a proposal, firstly I am not convinced that a larger and centralized government model is responsive to the need of individual communities , nor am I convinced that such a move would save taxpayers any money. In point of fact I see the costs for urban services being spread across the entire county thus hitting rural residents particularly hard with costs for services that they do not receive.

From what I have seen for the most part 'amalgamation' where rural communities have been lumped in with larger urban areas has simply created problems in trying to accommodate both sides, let us be quite clear the needs and wishes of the two are quite different. On the other had in places where two or more largely rural areas were amalgamated there seems to be less problems and costs have not changed substantially either way.

We already have an overall upper tier county government although I am not very conversant with exactly what their mandate is, its hard to separate who is responsible for what, Municipalities, County, Provincial, and Federal - roads, health, policing, permits, environment, etc etc. They are all mixed up with various parts of the various services funded and controlled via various levels of government. There may well be some services that can be better delivered by a regional government and it would seem to make more sense to merge the Grey & Bruce County governments and use common resources for things like county road upkeep, and county wide policing services for instance than to do away with the individual municipal councils who are much more able to respond to individual communities needs.

Frankly centralized governments scare the hell out of me, the larger they get the less responsive they are to particular needs of the various diverse wishes of the communities they govern. Such government also quickly become urban-centric in that the majority of the taxpayers are living in the towns or cities now contained in a very large physical area with varying needs. Both the Ontario government and the Federal government are fixated on Toronto for instance with little regard to smaller centres or populations for instance.

In short I am strongly opposed to this idea and can see no real advantage in it, I remain unconvinced that it will reduce taxes but am convinced that it will reduce accountability and direct access to council by said taxpayers.

UPDATE – A recent report would seem to support my view that amalgamation does NOT result in any savings -see this-

Not only are there more employees per taxpayer but Ontario is way above average in this regard according to the report.

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