Midland is trying to get its ducks in a row in the face of what one councillor is calling “forced amalgamation”
The Town of Midland has come up with what it thinks northern Simcoe should look like, should the Province decide to shake up communities within the County of Simcoe as part of a Regional Government Review.
The plan, as presented to council at its Wednesday night meeting, calls for the creation of a new Lower-Tier Municipality within the county called North Simcoe, comprised of Midland, Penetanguishene, along with the Townships of Tiny and Tay. While talks are ongoing, none of the other municipalities has signed off on this plan yet.
The four municipalities would collaborate on issues like business innovation, arts, and natural environment, as well as the potential of community health hubs. Certain services would be shared, as Midland and Penetanguishene share transit and fire services now. The report presented Wednesday night also points out that the entire district’s residents would need more direct representation within the county.
Councillor Cody Oschefski feels the whole thing is being forced on them “The Municipal review is just a fancy term that they’ve coined for the new forced amalgamation of our municipalities. We haven’t really been told the specifics of the amalgamation, but we’ve just been told status quo is not an option.”
He adds there hasn’t been any direction from the province, leaving too many unanswered questions. “Even as elected officials, we have no information as to how this affects us, how this affects the county, and how this will affect our jobs. Will there be an election for the new region?” Oschefski adds they have little recourse. “Our hands are definitely tied. They’re starting to ask our opinions now but I feel the writing’s already on the wall.”
Wednesday’s report makes it clear talks are ongoing among the affected municipalities, but that “Midland believes that a proactive and deliberate conversation needs to be had to set the course for the future of this region.” The report can be viewed here.
The provincial review continues.