By Chad Ingram
Published Dec. 6 2018
This week new municipal councils acrossHaliburton County are getting sworn in as a fresh council term getsunderway. There are a lot of councillors in Haliburton County – toomany – and the absolute No. 1 priority of the new term should bethe establishment of single-tier governance.
Between the townships of Minden Hillsand Dysart et al which each have seven-member councils andAlgonquin Highlands and Highlands East which each have five-membercouncils there are 24 individual councillors in Haliburton County.Factor in the upper-tier council – which comprised of the mayorsand deputy mayors of each township has eight seats – and there are32 council seats in Haliburton County. The county’s year-roundpopulation is approximately 18000.
Let’s put that in perspective. TheCity of Ottawa has a population of nearly a million people and has a24-member council. The City of Mississauga with a population of morethan 720000 has a 12-member council. Brampton: nearly 600000people 11 council seats. The City of Kawartha Lakes with apopulation of nearly 100000 has adopted a nine-member council. Youget the picture.
Oh and let’s not forget thatabruptly the City of Toronto the most populous city in the countryand the fourth most populous city in North America now has a councilof 25 members. The year-round population of Haliburton County can’tfill up half the Rogers Centre. In fact it would basically takeyear-round and seasonal folks combined for us to pack that place fora Jays’ game.
Starting this week the four newlower-tier councils of Haliburton County will begin discussions onthe same topics – landfills septic inspections short-termrentals official plans etc. etc.. etc. An exercise in redundancysometimes they will come to the same conclusions sometimes they willnot. Sometimes they will create similar bylaws sometimes they willnot contributing to the ongoing patchwork of inconsistent policythroughout the County of Haliburton.
As I’ve written before in this spacethe largest benefit of amalgamation would not be financial savingsit would be consistency and efficiency. The current framework isredundant inefficient and archaic. How long do you think it will bepermitted to go on?
As Minden Hills Mayor Brent Devolin hassaid over and over and as Premier Ford’s actions in Torontodemonstrate if the county does not create a more effectivegovernance model for itself then one will almost certainly beimposed on it. It’s just a matter of when.
One of the very first acts of the newHaliburton County council should be the striking of an amalgamationtask force and finding the right people to conduct a study on andplan for creating a single tier.