Aurora Citizen

News & Views from the Citizens of Aurora Ontario

Northern 6 Municipalities Expanding Co-Operative Efforts.

Posted by auroracitizen on March 24, 2010

CAO’s from the northern 6 municipalities are expanding their efforts to find cost efficiencies in services.

First started through the green bin program, this year the initiative is being expanded. Customer service and human resource training and professional development are the next frontier.

By working together, common standards are achieved and expertise and costs are shared. Rather than 1 consultant for each municipality, the cost for 1 is shared across 6 communities.

Volume discounts also become more significant as does negotiation leverage.

The key issue will be the ability for local Councils to work together and be willing to “give” on some issues to “get” on others — and their ability to sell the solutions to their constituents.

It will also be interesting to see whether staff will be allowed to deal with these issues and whether Council’s will keep their noses out of where they don’t belong.

Of course, the inevitable questions will start to be asked about whether we actually need 6 council’s and all those Councillors looking after these issues or whether a smaller group could look after these type of service initiatives. Possibly Regional Council should take over these services.

Interesting thought. What do you think?

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7 Responses to “Northern 6 Municipalities Expanding Co-Operative Efforts.”

  1. Positive 2010 said

    Neighbourhood Network is so much more then just volunteers .

    Just ask the Non Profit ,and Charity groups they have helped with seminars etc .

    Info Aurora ,never heard of them until The Mayor decided she “Hated Tim Jones “

  2. Richard Johnson said

    If we must enforce a code of conduct in order for our council to police its own bad behaviour at a potential costs of $100,000 per annum (or more, including legal costs), it seems to me that would be a great place to start trying to reduce costs. I can’t think of many boards of directors that need to set aside $100,000 per annum in order to ensure their own professional behaviour, therefore Aurora’s approach does not strike me as being reasonable or even necessary for that matter.

    Richmond Hill recently set aside half the funds that Aurora did in order to police itself so I have to ask why we would not share the base costs associated with an integrity commissioner with all those municipalities that can’t seem to manage themselves professionally or civilly without outside help.

    Even with an Integrity Commissioner it appears that Aurora Council can’t apply its own rules judiciously and equitably, therefore I have to question if it is even possible to pass a by-law that will effectively address bad behaviour, a biased view of the world and pure incompetence on any number of levels, but I digress !

    It irks me beyond words to see what our council seems to find money for while turning its back on the food bank and while rejecting the advice of outside consultants and staff. It all comes down to where we want to set our priorities and clearly our council takes care of its own first without any real appreciation for the money, time and opportunities it wastes in the process.

    Cutting costs where ever reasonably possible should be a never ending priority, especially when we see our taxes go up year in and year out and the money squandered by our council as if money grows on trees. The overlap of services and issues on a regional level presents many opportunities to share resources but given that is what the Regional Council should already be doing, this concept of sharing resources and cutting costs in the process should not be seen as a new idea, as much as it should be seen as an obvious opportunity.

  3. Barry Hall said

    Interesting topic.

    A letter was submitted to the Auroran last year regarding this issue but I don’t think it went over too well. Perhaps some of the silliness of the past year may have changed things a bit.

    April 14, 2009 Volume 09 Number 24 pg 6

    “The time has come,” the Walrus said,
    “To talk of many things:
    Of shoes–and ships–and sealing-wax–
    Of cabbages–and kings– ”

    As Aurora greets another spring it may be a good time to talk about amalgamation.

    One assumes that York Regional government was formed almost 40 years ago to provide an administrative economy of scale that smaller communities simply could not achieve. York Regional Police for example.
    Why then, were all of the small municipal governments kept in place?
    York Region has a population of about one million. Markham (300K) , Vaughan ( 270K) , and Richmond Hill (185K ) each have a mayor and eight councillors give or take but the remaining six municipalities of Aurora, King, Newmarket, East Gwillimbury, Georgina and Whitchurch-Stouffville have a total population of about 250K and get this; six mayors and thirty-six councillors. Collectively, the six have the population of Saskatoon but nearly as many politicians as Toronto.

    “But wait a bit,” the Oysters cried,
    “Before we have our chat;
    For some of us are out of breath,
    And all of us are fat!”

    If we must live with a municipal and regional system what would be wrong with amalgamating our six little “oysters” into, let’s call it “New City”, with a mayor and six ward councillors (plus regional councillors)?
    York Region would have four cities of more or less equal population although “New City” would account for over one half of the area and hold the largest tracts of undeveloped lands in one of the country’s fastest growing regions. Is it possible that such development may be better managed, in conjunction with York Region, by a focused city government and one economic development team rather than six?

    Many area residents are concerned with urban sprawl and protection of environmentally sensitive areas. Is it possible that we could all benefit from a single planning department?

    Some may argue that Aurorans will lose the ability to “chart our own course” but as it stands Aurora no longer has its own police force, school board, transit system, fire department or hydro. Indeed, “New City” wouldn’t have control over these services either as they are, for the most part, regional. However, one cannot help but assume that residents from the six wards that share a passion for sports and recreation, historical preservation or the arts might benefit from “playing on the same team”.

    “I weep for you,” the Walrus said:
    “I deeply sympathize.”
    With sobs and tears he sorted out
    Those of the largest size,

    There will be those that feel amalgamation would mean the loss of our town “spirit”. Are Aurorans really that passionate about their town? Out of 50,000 residents, just over a third of those eligible bothered to vote in the last municipal election. When Councillor Marsh resigned and Councillor Gallo was appointed, not elected, the protesters and supporters at Town Hall numbered in the dozens. When the York District School Board raised
    the possibility of closing Wells Street School barely 150 concerned residents attended the public meeting, hardly a tsunami of public sentiment. Interest in the Canada Day Parade in “Canada’s Birthday Town” has dwindled to the point where council feels obliged to counter our apathy with our tax dollars. On the other hand, it would seem to make sense that with a pool of 250K potential volunteers, community spirit projects such as parades and festivals would benefit.

    Aurora council at times seems beset by allegations and accusations of impropriety, ethics violations, voting
    cliques, favouritism, vote pandering and overall dysfunction. Larger cities are not immune to such issues, the recent allegations at Vaughan council being a case in point, but they are subject to a brighter media spotlight which helps ignite public opinion and nothing moves politicians faster than that.

    By definition amalgamation requires the reduction of government and elimination of duplicate services but just as kings have no wish to become commoners, politicians and civil servants have no desire to become redundant and their survival instinct is strong. Establishing “New City” would not be a cure-all for the
    problems that plague small municipal governments nor would it be an easy task but the potential advantages
    are many.

    It just might be worth talking about.

    “O Oysters,” said the Carpenter,
    “You’ve had a pleasant run!
    Shall we be trotting home again?’
    But answer came there none–
    And this was scarcely odd, because
    They’d eaten every one.

    Submitted by Barry Hall, Aurora – with help from Lewis Carroll

    • Charles Dodgson said

      No, sorry, Barry, a year hasn’t changed anything. It’s still a crap idea.

    • evelyn buck said

      Aurora Library is currently preparing a strategic plan Part of the process is considering whether the librray can stay as it is or face the need for a role change. and identify its shape.

      I think we need to face the need for change.I think the library and her staff are a vastly under-utilsed and tremendously valuable resource.

      I think the town’s future as a separate autonomous body is a worthy topic. There should be a opportunity to discover pros and cons of what was,what is and what might be. People should have a chance to become properly informed without imminence of a government edict. hanging over our heads.

      The library would be the best place. A work/study group would be the best channel for it to happen.

      All it needs is initiative.

    • Barry Hall said

      Yeah, you’re probably right Charles, we wouldn’t want Aurora to lose any of its special status now would we?
      Better we keep things just the way they are.

      After all, aren’t the big box stores and strip malls in Aurora just that much better than those in other towns?

      Better we have our own volunteer organization rather than getting mixed up with those wannabes at Neighbourhood Network.

      Heaven forbid we should share anything of what people love about Aurora with anyone else.

      Then again, there’s no guarantee, despite promises apparently made to Ron Wallace by Ernie Eves back in the day, that a cost-conscious and bored provincial bureaucrat won’t stare at a map of northern York Region one rainy afternoon with a calculator in one hand and a highlighter in the other and wonder if perhaps 250,000 people don’t really need over 40 mayors and councillors.

      Nahh, they wouldn’t DARE do that to Aurora.

      Would they?

  4. evelyn buck said

    The Green BIn program was not the first co-operative initiative of the norther six.

    Who’s writing this stuff?

    When Newmarket and Aurora have grown out to their boundaries, the Province will have to consider how the boundaries will be expanding into neighbouring communities.

    Common sense dictates when there is no longer any division except political between the two municipalities,thought will be given to the merits of maintaining two top-heavy administrations costing millions of dollars. A finger will be raised to the wind. If all is calm, or if public opinion is blowing in the right direction, the two towns will become one.

    Georgina, East Gwillimbury. King and Whitchurch Stouffville will be safe for a while longer.

    There is nom calender…no official date…it will happen here as it has elsewhere. there will still be small towns to live in Ontario. They just won’t be within twenty-five miles of the Megalopolis.

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