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Public input requested in regional government review

If you’ve got any suggestions for how to improve regional government, now is the time to make your voice heard. The province of Ontario is looking for your input on governance, decision-making and service delivery for regional governments through an online consultation.

Those who live or work in Wellesley and Woolwich have until April 23 to submit their answers. The option is open to a total of 82 upper- (regional municipality and upper government) and lower-tier (city, town, and township government) municipalities.

“We promised the people of Ontario that all levels of government would work harder, smarter and more efficiently,” said Steve Clark, minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing in a statement. “I look forward to receiving the recommendations and hearing what is working in the regions and Simcoe County, and what can be improved.”

Special advisors Ken Seiling, the former chair of Waterloo Region, and Michael Fenn will be assessing the feedback received through the online forum, then provide their advice and recommendations to Clark this summer.

“I believe Ken Seiling and Mike Fenn are asking the right questions,” said regional chair Karen Redman. “I believe that they will put in a really good report, but it will be up to Premier Doug Ford to decide, at the end of the day, what we do.”

In addition to the online portal, the region encouraged the province to provide an in-person option for those who may feel more comfortable sharing their thoughts face-to-face or to ask for further clarification on questions. Redman said the findings from this report would not be made public.

“Clearly this online portal will be one piece of the information and the input that they get from the public,” she said.” They are supposedly tabling the report sometime in June. The thing is, their report to my understanding will not be made public. It will be treated as advice to the minister and cabinet. And as such will not be a publicly distributed report.”

No matter the outcome of the regional government review, Redman said there are features of the region she would like to stay the same.

“We need to honour community in whatever changes we do,” said Redman. “We have to absolutely have to ensure that urban-rural mix continues to be a defining characteristic of our region because it’s such a strong piece of who we are and of our economic vibrancy.”

The online portal can be accessed here on the Ontario government website.

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