Essex County leaders pleased with amalgamation decision
WINDSOR -- Municipal politicians across Windsor and Essex County are pleased the province has decided not to force amalgamation on municipalities.
Friday's announcement was met by applause at the Association of Municipalities of Ontario fall policy forum in London about the next steps in the regional government review.
Tecumseh Mayor and Essex County Warden Gary McNamara is glad to hear the Ford government is moving away from amalgamation.
"One size does not fit all, bigger is not better," says McNamara.
Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, instead announced funding will be provided to help municipalities lower costs and improve services.
Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens points out there are already shared services across the region – highlighting the city's police force taking over patrols in Amherstburg.
"We saved the Town of Amherstburg over half a million dollars a year and we're saving about the same amount as a city," says Dilkens. "So the more folks we can spread the fixed costs across the better it is for folks not just in Windsor but in every town in Essex County."
The province will provide up to $143 million in funding that is available for all 444 municipalities across Ontario.
"Boundaries don't have to change in order for us to drive efficiencies," adds McNamara."It's a matter of working together to find efficiencies."
Ontario was reviewing 82 municipalities, a move that raised the possibility of amalgamations and comes not long after the Progressive Conservative government slashed the size of Toronto's city council nearly in half.
University of Windsor Political Science Professor Lydia Miljan believes the move in Toronto may have led to Friday's announcement.
"I think that Doug Ford may be a little sensitive to the negative aspects of amalgamation. His problem with Toronto city council, the fact that it was so big and had to cut down the number of politicians is a direct consequence of the amalgamation of the Toronto area," says Miljan.
Miljan also tells CTV Windsor it appears to government is listening to local concerns.
"I think it's a good step. I think whenever you allow the level of government that's closest to the people to make the decisions, that is good governance," says Miljan.
A number of Ontario municipalities amalgamated in 1998.