Local residents will get a chance Monday night to have their say on whether the Town of Bradford West Gwillimbury should become a separated city.
The town’s Committee of the Whole, which is made up of council members, voted April 2 to advise the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing the town wants to pursue separated city status through a provincial governance review currently underway.
Before it does that, though, the town is first soliciting feedback from residents, and council must ratify the committee’s decision at a meeting Tuesday evening.
Anyone unable to attend the public meeting can give feedback directly to the province through a survey, letter, or in-person presentation.
PUBLIC MEETING: BWG AS A SEPARATED CITY?
- WHEN: April 15
- TIME: 7 p.m.
- WHERE: Zima Room at BWG Public Library, 425 Holland St. W., Bradford
In a statement issued Friday at 5 p.m., Simcoe County Warden George Cornell said the county has “tremendous regard” for BWG, “which serves as the southern gateway into our region from the GTA.”
However, the county is “concerned” some information about the process is “not fully complete or inclusive of all the appropriate financial and logistical considerations,” meaning residents and BWG council may make decisions without all necessary information, he said.
Cornell’s statement also referenced a StrategyCorp report from last spring after the Town of BWG asked the firm to investigate whether it should separate from the county.
The report did not specify whether the town should separate, rather it provided information on different options.
Still, Cornell said the county “was pleased that the overall conclusion of the report could be readily interpreted to reflect that the residents of Bradford West Gwillimbury are receiving good value in the services and infrastructure they receive from the County portion of their tax dollars.”
He added: “The current governance arrangement is beneficial when compared to other options.”
BWG Mayor Rob Keffer has said a separated city status could save residents “some tax dollars.”
“Since 2012 to 2019, it’s almost $10 million more that we’re sending to the county. It was $9 million in 2012. With that rapid growth and revenue, I think we have to ask ourselves whether we’re seeing a growth in services from the county,” Keffer said during an April 2 council meeting. “We really aren’t aware of it.”
The StrategyCorp report found BWG contributes more in the operating portion of county levies than it likely gets in services — anywhere from 13 per cent to 59 per cent more than the average contribution to the county.
As well, BWG pays more for running certain services, such as social housing and paramedics, than independent cities like Barrie and Orillia because it subsidizes a larger group of “assessment-poor” municipalities, read the review.
On the flip side, StrategyCorp’s review found the value of county capital projects in BWG between 2011 and 2017 exceeded the town’s tax and development-charge contributions by $3 million.
Simcoe County projects planned for 2018 to 2025 also have a value of $15 million greater than the anticipated BWG contributions, read the review.