County Mulling Over a Slimmer Council

Two Reports Suggesting Adjusting Council Size as Provincial Review Continues

It may be time to consider adjusting the size of Simcoe County, according to two reports to County higher ups.

A pair of reports presented to the County’s Committee of the Whole this week recommends a reduced size of council, along with supporting a two-tier structure, and regional representation. Newly election regional councillors would make up the County Council, and a Warden would be chosen among them. Right now, Council is made up of 32 members; typically the mayor and deputy mayor of the 16 member municipalities make up county council.

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County Warden George Cornell says this whole process has allowed a little more introspection. “In fact, it’s been about 30 years since the County has had a review. As a County Council, and staff here at the county, review and assessment of our service deliver and efficiencies is an ongoing matter” says Cornell. “The fact that the province has come forward now to do a regional review has certainly caused us to take a little deeper look at things than perhaps we have done in the past.”

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The province is in the midst of a Regional Government Review, scrutinizing nine upper-tier municipalities including Simcoe, and while some local politicians have expressed frustration with the process, Warden Cornell doesn’t share it. “The frustration might come from the fact that the province hasn’t given us a lot of detail of what their expectation is. Without knowing where they want to get to, it’s frustrating thinking through what those changes may be.” Cornell added the province seems open to discussion. “When I talk to the province, they don’t want to prejudge the outcome. They don’t want to predetermine, they want to let the regions have an opportunity to provide input.”

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The reports came by way of two bodies: a Governance Committee that oversees the governing of the county, and a Warden’s Taskforce that concerns itself with service delivery. Both had been meeting over the past few months to discuss a Provincial Regional Goverment Review and the implications of it. Now they’ve gotten through a County committee vote, the reports go before County Council for ratification in two weeks’ time.