Bradford West Gwillimbury Exploring Departing from Simcoe County

Town Examining Costs and Benefits of Becoming Separate City

Amid a provincial review of regional governments, Bradford West Gwillimbury is suggesting leaving its own.

Bradford’s elected officials voted Tuesday to send a letter to the Provincial Government, advising the town wishes to pursue separated city status. It also asks that provincial advisors work with the County of Simcoe in the transition.

One of the driving forces behind this move is overlap. In speaking of the provincial review in late February, BWG Mayor Rob Keffer told Barrie 360 there are more efficient ways of doing things, “…some of the services offered by Simcoe County overlap with our own and those of other municipalities,” says Keffer. “There are opportunities to reduce overlap and implement more efficient ways of doing business that can benefit all of us.”

A staff report presented at the Tuesday night meeting also points to rising tax rates for BWG residents “This dichotomy has become quite apparent for BWG, as the town’s growth over the past several years compounded by increases in property values have led to the town experiencing the highest rate of assessment growth in Simcoe County. As such, BWG property owners are responsible for an increasing proportion of the County’s tax-supported budget.”

Given that the Provincial Government is conducting a review of sixteen regional governments across Ontario, the staff report suggests it is the right time to discuss Bradford West Gwillimbury leaving the County of Simcoe; not because the services provided are inadequate, but because BWG is big enough to strike out on its own, “Ontario’s counties were originally intended as an upper tier coordinating body for rural municipalities. Traditionally, as an urban area became large enough to be classified as a city, it was politically separated from the county and became a single tier municipal government. It appears that circumstances have arisen that could lead to Bradford West Gwillimbury becoming a separarated city.”

Upon separating, the BWG staff report indicates it would hope to negotiate a similar agreement for services to that of Barrie or Orillia. Until then, town staff continue exploring the costs and benefits of such a change.