The mayors and regional chair of Waterloo region met individually with Municipal Affairs Minister Steve Clark’s special advisers on Thursday who are helping him conduct a review of regional government.
In a joint release, mayors Berry Vrbanovic, Dave Jaworsky, Kathryn McGarry, Sue Foxton, Joe Nowak, Les Armstrong and Sandy Shantz, as well as regional chair Karen Redmon, said they all stressed that the current model is working well and collaborating efficiently although they were all open to looking into options that would cut costs while allowing the region to continue to compete on a global stage.
The local leaders said they also pushed that any potential changes need to ensure that “urban and rural communities are well represented; recognize their unique identities and history; and that the responsibility and accountability for service delivery is clear and measurably benefits residents.”
Former Waterloo regional chair Ken Seiling is one of Clarks’s advisers, with the other being Michael Fenn.
The province has tasked the pair to review the regional governrments of Halton, York, Durham, Waterloo, Niagara, Peel, Muskoka District, Oxford County, the County of Simcoe and their lower-tier municipalities.
Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic said he told the duo that he believes that the region is one of the most effective examples of regional government although his city is also “open to exploring opportunies that would help improve municipal service delivery.”
While Clark has said the review is not about amalgamation, he did not close the door on the idea when he announced the review of regional government.
Vrbanovic wrote on Twitter that if changes to local government are made by the province, he believes that local governments should be allowed to make those decisions.
“If the province decides that reform in any of these areas needs to occur, I remain steadfast in my view that the province should clearly identify their desired end goal but not dictate the exact route the municipalities take to get there,” he wrote. “Kitchener and all the municipalities in the region need to have ownership in that process.”
There are expected to be further group consultations later this spring as the process continues.
The advisory body’s aim is to look into how well the regional and municipal governments are functioning together and whether there is proper representation.
The review is expected to be completed by early summer.
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