-0.6 C
Elmira
Monday, February 24, 2020
Connecting Our Communities

Woolwich signs on to plan that will see rural townships collaborate

TRENDING

News Briefs

Woolwich nixes traffic islands Displeased with the troublesome pedestrian islands installed during the Region of Waterloo’s reconstruction of Church Street...

20-year-old agreement causes a stir

An Elmira environmentalist’s “smoking gun” appears to be shooting blanks. Al Marshall, a long-time critic of cleanup efforts at...

Forks up to farmers on well-timed Agriculture Day

February is not the most obvious time to celebrate agriculture in Canada. But that’s...

Need for dementia research will only keep growing

Along with financial insecurity due to inadequate pensions, Canadians have health issues to worry about as society ages...

THIS WEEK

Elmira
clear sky
-0.6 ° C
3 °
-5 °
79 %
2.7kmh
1 %
Mon
7 °
Tue
3 °
Wed
8 °
Thu
2 °
Fri
-5 °

With Woolwich signing on this week, the region’s four rural municipalities have now all agreed to look at ways they can work together to offer services more efficiently and with lower costs.

Township councillors meeting July 30 approved plans to hire a consultant for a joint service delivery study as the first step in a new working agreement. It makes formal an undertaking between Woolwich, Wellesley, Wilmot and North Dumfries townships.

“It is anticipated that a series of studies could be undertaken through to 2022, subject to the success of this initial study. The intent of the study is to improve the understanding of the services currently provided by the respective townships and to provide better information, which will allow the councils and staff the opportunity to make more informed, strategic choices regarding those services,” wrote Woolwich chief administrative officer David Brenneman in a report presented Tuesday night.

The first study will focus on five areas seen as the best chance for finding common ground between the townships: fire services, emergency management, library services, information technology and corporate communications.

“These were the five areas we thought we could make the best impact with,” said Mayor Sandy Shantz of the findings of longstanding meetings between the mayors and CAOs of the four municipalities.

Brenneman noted the conversation among the four townships began before the province announced its regional review, seen by many as a prelude to another round of amalgamation talks.

While amalgamation isn’t being highlighted, much of the feedback from municipalities during the review – conducted by special advisors Michael Fenn and Ken Seiling, the latter the former chair of Waterloo Region – have opposed that prospect.

By working together, said Brenneman, the townships can demonstrate efficiencies can be found without reducing the region to a single-tier government from the current system.

“It’s a process that can show that ultimately the two-tier system can work,” he said, noting the agreement moves the process beyond simply talking about changes. “It clearly documents that we can walk the walk.”

While agreeing it was a good idea to collaborate, Coun. Larry Shantz expressed some concerns about the prospect of taking on library services as “a pretty big chunk to bite off.”

Under the current system, the townships provide and maintain library buildings, with the Region of Waterloo Library operating them, a budgeted expense of $3.2 million.

Brenneman noted having the townships take over the libraries would give each greater control over both capital and operating costs, pointing to rising administration costs in recent years.

Pointing out that Woolwich has a more pronounced relationship with neighbouring Wellesley Township – the two even share the village of Heidelberg – Coun. Patrick Merlihan inquired if the new joint commitment precluded Woolwich from working with just one other on certain efforts, with Brenneman noting there would be no such restrictions.

As a bonus, the cost of the joint study would be covered from one-time funding the province provided to all municipalities with fewer than 25,000 residents in support of finding efficiencies and modernizing how services are offered. Woolwich’s share of that pie was $725,000, cash that’s already in the bank, Brenneman said.

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to The Observer's online community. Pseudonyms are not permitted. By submitting a comment, you accept that The Observer has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner The Observer chooses. Please note that The Observer does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our submission guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

LIVING HERE

Under the auctioneer’s gavel to provide help Down Under

After seeing the devastation from the Australian wildfires, a local art collector sold the first painting she ever bought on Saturday to help raise money for relief efforts there. Nancy...

In Print. Online. In Pictures. In Depth.

You obviously love community journalism. Thanks for visiting today. If you have a great local story, let us know.

Sugar Kings win three games, clinch first place

In need of just one more win to clinch first place in the Midwestern Conference, the Elmira Sugar Kings claimed all three games...

U.S. edges out Canada in national para hockey battle

In the natural on-ice rivalry between Canada and the U.S., the American para hockey team has had the advantage in recent years. That...

Jacks take 3-2 series lead into deciding weekend vs. New Hamburg

The Wellesley Applejacks are up 3-2 in their best-of-seven series against the New Hamburg Firebirds, having claimed two of this week’s three games in...
- Advertisement -