The provincial government has hired two advisors to look into the regional government model, and the County of Simcoe is one of nine regional governments that will be under the microscope.
According to a release put out by the Ontario government on Jan. 15, they are moving ahead with a review of regional government by appointing Michael Fenn and Ken Seiling as special advisors. The advisors will work with the province to explore opportunities to make it easier for residents and businesses to access municipal services, processes to deliver efficient and effective local services that respects taxpayers' money, methods to make municipalities open for business and possibilities to cut red tape and duplication to save costs.
“The county will certainly participate in the provincial regional government review process, which we understand will focus on service delivery, decision-making and governance,” said Simcoe County Warden George Cornell on Tuesday. “We were pleased to receive a call in advance from Minister Clark and were aware of media reports where in the provincial government had addressed the potential for a review to occur.”
Cornell said that the county is still waiting for details from the province on the structure and scope of the review.
“It’s important that governments at all levels work to provide efficiencies to taxpayers and we view this as part of that process,” said Cornell. “We welcome the opportunity to participate and will provide updates to our member municipalities and residents as we receive more information from the province.”
The County of Simcoe is one of the largest counties in Ontario with its population expected to surpass 500,000 residents in 2019.
The review will also examine Ontario's eight regional municipalities (Halton, York, Durham, Waterloo, Niagara, Peel, Muskoka District, and Oxford County) and their lower-tier municipalities.
"Our government committed to improving the way regional government works and we will be looking at ways to make better use of taxpayers' dollars and make it easier for residents and businesses to access important municipal services," said Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing said in the release.
Local residents and businesses will be consulted in spring 2019. Fenn, a deputy minister and founding CEO of regional transportation agency Metrolinx, and Seiling, who recently retired as Waterloo Region chair, are set to give their recommendations to the province by early summer.
Village Media has reached out to MPP Andrea Khanjin and MPP Doug Downey.
This story will be updated as it develops.