An outgoing Owen Sound city councillor believes there may be an appetite at the provincial level to amalgamate municipalities.
Jim McManaman says Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark sent a correspondence to Association of Municipalities Ontario members communicating the province is undergoing a regional review to take a broad look at the current model of municipal governance that has been in place for almost 50 years.
Clark's statement explains it is time to consider whether changes are needed to improve municipal governance where the dollars of taxpayers are being stretched.
McManaman says this letter, coupled with the recent move by Doug Ford's Progressive Conservatives to quickly make changes to Toronto City Council, show the opportunity exists now to engage the province and push for change to the local government structure in the Owen Sound area.
"Better ways to try and streamline government, that appears to be what (the province) is looking for," McManaman says. "For a long time we've talked about regional government in this area."
At Owen Sound's Oct. 29 council meeting McManaman, who will not be on council next term after foregoing a bid for re-election, encouraged his colleagues to consider engaging the province on creating one larger, amalgamated municipality including Owen Sound and its neighbours.
"Have a serious discussion about what a bigger municipality might look like: What the boundaries might be? What services might be shared?" McManaman says. "In my 15 years on council that's been a difficult discussion with our neighbours. But, looking at the context of the provincial government is looking into these types of issues, perhaps now is the time to have that discussion."
Minister Clark's statement goes on to say the province's goal is to give people what they want: local governments that are working as effectively and efficiently as possible to support the economic prosperity of their residents and businesses.
"We look forward to discussing with our many stakeholders, including our municipal partners, to determine what is working well in our current governance model," says Minister Clark. "And what needs to be improved."