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Burlington as you know it - could come to an end.

News 100 blueBy Staff

September 16th, 2019

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The public is waiting for the report written by two former municipal players, one elected the other appointed.
Michael Fenn was once the City Manager for Burlington; he was asked by the Minister of Municipal Affairs to do a review of the Tier 1 governments – what we call Regional governments.

Fenn and Seiling

Michael Fenn and Ron Selig listening to delegations during the Provincial Review.

The Minister asked Ron Selig, a municipal politician to join Fenn and to report by the end of July.

That deadline came and went – it was put off until after the federal election and now we learn that it is going to come back to the table sometime in the New Year.

Governments always stage the release of unpalatable information at a time that meets their agenda.  Their favourite trick is to release bad news on a Friday afternoon of a long weekend.

One of the issues that came up during the Review process that Fenn and Selig carried out was the idea of merging Burlington, Oakville, Milton and Halton Hills into a top Tier government and calling it the City of Halton. It would take over everything the current Region of Halton does as well as merge what has been done at the municipal level and have it done by what would become a mega-municipality.

And that would be the end of local participation which has been a hall mark of citizen participation on Ontario.
Two groups, one in Burlington and one in Oakville responded to this – and became known as We Love Burlington and We Love Oakville – the Gazette refers to them as The Lovelies. They are asking people to SAY NO TO AMALGAMATION and let the government know that this just isn’t on.

While the Ford government at Queen’s Park has made some truly stupid initiatives they have learned when to back off.

They did so with the attempt Doug Ford made to appoint a family friend as the Commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police; they did so with the huge outcry from parents with autistic children, and then dumped a Minister of Education who was getting parents really riled up over classroom sizes.

So they aren’t deaf – just a little thick between the ears.

The Lovelies had this to say – well worth listening to…

We love logoWe Love Burlington and our friends at We Love Oakville both believe that the Doug Ford government is intending to merge our cities, along with Milton and Halton Hills, into a mega city of Halton.

Some municipalities in Ontario have called for a referendum by the citizens before any such moves are made. For a government which touts that it is “for the people” and is “listening”, this would seem to be the obvious and most democratic way forward. However, in 2000, the Mike Harris government passed Bill 62, the Direct Democracy through Municipal Referendums Act, which allows the Provincial Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing to prohibit a municipal referendum on a matter which he judges to be in the provincial interest, even if the matter would normally be deemed to be within municipal jurisdiction.

If we don’t speak up now, it will be too late! We have seen examples where the Doug Ford government has backtracked on planned legislation due to a large public outcry. And though it is shocking to most people, it is a fact that municipal governments, the ones that affect us all the most in our day-to-day lives, are essentially powered by the Province. We are often asked “can the Province do this? Do they have the power to take away our local municipal officials and our local voice?” Unfortunately, the answer is yes.

There is limited time left in which to ensure your voices are heard. Please send our letter, it is HERE, it only takes a moment. If you have already sent it, thank you, but please send the link to family members and friends and neighbours.

Merging our municipalities is a real threat and time is running out. Diluting the municipal powers but keeping the names intact has the same result as creating a megacity with one name. Don’t let either one happen!

We’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating. If it is true that bigger government is better government with greater span of control and improved efficiencies through broadened scope, then why are the majority of municipalities not part of the current review?

The review is looking at 82 municipalities but there are 361 municipalities where the review is not happening (including the town of Brockville, Minister of Municipal Affairs & Housing Steve Clark’s riding, and North Bay, former Finance Minister Vic Fedeli’s riding).

Is the motivation/animus for the review personal and political?

Greenbelt

The Greenbelt that surrounds the GTA municipalities has been something developers have always wanted to have access to – governments have kept them out – this government appears to want to open the gates.

Is it driven by cities that border the greenbelt or are considered appealing for massive development? Bill 108 is known as the Developers’ Dream Bill for a reason. Merging cities and towns bordering on the greenbelt, with the resulting reduction of municipal government powers, would surely be another dream come true for the development industry at the expense of the citizens.

Help us spread the word – NO MEGACITY OF HALTON!

There is some excellent academic research that debunks the myth that larger governments save money. Richard Tindal in a well-received paper said: “Many of us in the academic world have debunked the myth about amalgamations saving money for decades. Andrew Sanction, Robert Bish, Harry Kitchen, Wendell Cox, and Michael Keating – among others – have all explained why amalgamations don’t save money.”

That paper can be found HERE.

Related news stories:

Provincial Review hearings take place at Regional office.

Municipal politicians get an update on the Provincial Review.

 

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10 comments to Burlington as you know it – could come to an end.

  • Carol Victor

    Some of these comments miss the point. It is a Doug Ford government now that is forcing amalgamation upon us while our MPP insists that this is fake news. We democratically elected a new municipal government to run our town.and now this is being threatened…where is the Civic Engagement that afforded us this action? We have every right to oppose amalgamation and all of the consequences that will negatively affect Burlington and it’s residents.

  • Penny Hersh

    Perry, no government whether it is Municipal, Federal or Provincial can work in silos. All levels of government need to work together to get things accomplished. That was the point I was trying to make. We have not succeeded in doing this and the senior population is dealing with this now.

    We have to find a better solution. Tired of hearing one level of government blaming another level of government. So easy to play the blame game rather than working together to make things happen.

  • WeLoveBurlington

    Change is inevitable and is the one true constant of life. Nothing remains the same, all things change. And people don’t generally react badly to change if they are informed and can understand the reasons. They reject being changed, particularly when they have not been consulted, are unsure of the outcomes and can’t see the underlying rationale. And so it is with the regional government review and the looming MegaCity of Halton. From the beginning, the process of the review has been clouded in ambiguity with information going in only one direction – to the reviewers and the government that they so willingly serve. There has not been any distinct and well articulated boundaries set to the potential change; there has been no fulsome response to the many delegations that tried to inform and shape the change. Indeed, the final report, once intended to be tabled before the Legislature rose in June and then shortly thereafter, is now not scheduled to be “received” until the late Fall and well after the federal election – with no explanation as to “why”.

    There has been much study done of prior amalgamations by unbiased researchers and experts, all of which conclude that the result was and most often will be increased taxes, decreased services and loss of local representation and voice. That this government is ignoring existing research while providing none of their own evidence and touting benefits that are unproven in practice, is disingenuous at best. So, our concern is not with change, well understood and openly debated, but with change imposed with no meaningful consultation and serving an vague direction never part of the original mandate. The former is democracy; the latter akin to dictatorship.

    For the record, it is also worth noting that municipal health care is largely a provincial government responsibility with the policies, funding and operational framework determined by Queen’s Park.

  • Penny Hersh

    Maura, I totally agree with you. I often wonder if Councillors are simply trying to protect their jobs.?

    Has the region really worked? We have elderly patients taking up hospital beds because there are no long-term care facilities. There is a lack of subsidized housing. I am tired of hearing that this falls to the Federal Government or the Provincial Government – well find a way to work together and get things done.

    In Burlington the Emergency Department at Joseph Brant Hospital is understaffed and over-whelmed. Patients fall through the gaps in the system because the hospital works in “Silos’ with one department not knowing what the other is doing. Patients have to wait for procedures like having PICC Lines inserted because that Department is not open on the weekends. Someone was bumped to accommodate me. Directives come down from administration – to cut one nurse from the surgical floor on the weekends ” because surgery is not scheduled on the weekends”. What about emergencies – or do emergencies only happen during the week?

    Before residents fight to keep something they think works perhaps we should see what else is being offered. There is always room for improvement.

    • Perryb

      Penny, you have complained about a bunch of real issues that have nothing to do with municipal government. Municipalities and local volunteers in fact have to spend money to patch over some of those shortcomings. Better the province sticks to its own knitting and fixes those things it has already taken responsibility for, like health and education.

  • Carol Victor

    Amalgamation saves us nothing, this is so wrong-footed that it is unbelievable, Burlington has not been negligent in its financial arena so the cost saving is false. Why does standing up to this this matter? It matters because we democratically elected a new municipal government who supported the will of Burlington’s citizens and our rights to have a say in development and the vision for the City. Now another layer of government (the PC Provincial government that is not in fact saving us money) is dictating how we should carry on the business of Burlington’s municipal government. For those of us who fought hard to rid ourselves of over-development and the protection of the green belt, this does matter.

    Get your letters written, put up a “We Love Burlington” sign, be engaged, don’t just let this happen like the downtown development that we all opposed when it was too late!!!!!

    • James

      You do realize the Liberals were in power provincially for the past 15 years or so, and put in place all of the things you are accusing the PC’s of, right? Their leadership has gotten us to the point we’re at today. The Liberals put in place the Greenbelt that has so drastically forced intensification upon us. Anyone who is pro-Greenbelt and anti-intensification hasn’t thought things through. You can’t have it both ways. It’s cause and effect at it’s most basic level. It wasn’t Doug Ford’s idea to open our doors to unprecedented levels of immigration and fill our cities with highrises, it was the Liberal’s who made that call. It was the Liberals that over-spent and under-delivered for well over a decade, growing the deficit to such enormous heights. That can’t be ignored. The PC’s are trying to clean up the mess the Liberal’s made, which is forcing some tough and unpopular decisions. Sure Doug Ford is like a bull in a china shop and has his flaws, but he’s forced to make this drastic course correction because of the undeniably poor leadership of the Provincial Liberals. Go ahead and be angry, but make sure you’re pointing your anger in the correct direction.

  • Hans Jacobs

    This is a “no-brainer”, as in “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Normally change results from some kind of pressure but in this case the four municipalities are working well within the Region; it seems like the only pressure is from provincial Conservative politicians who confuse action with progress.
    Conservatives would do well to remember that this kind of unwarranted and unjustifiable interference helped to put the Liberals in power for 15 years.

  • Maura

    I have worked mainly with women most of my career. We are now at an age that many have faced breast cancer and survived treatments. Why is this important? Because we all face change. Some small and some major and we survive. We will survive amalgamation if that is the way it happens. My parents taught me you don’t spend what you don’t have and Ontario is nearly 400 billion in debt. No one wants to face the fact that the word bankrupt comes to mind.
    I am sure many of you do not run your personal financial affairs in such a way. So if change is around the corner then embrace it as the current way is not working out that well either. No one is to blame, it’s just the way it is.. after looking at this from all angles this is my opinion