Mayors from the region’s four rural townships met January 31 with Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Mike Harris, discussing ways the municipalities can work together to find efficiencies and save money.
The townships had last year agreed to hire a consultant, KPMG, to help them find ways to find common ground on five areas of interest: fire services and emergency management, library services, information technology and corporate communications. The $100,000 cost was to be split four ways, drawn from money provided by the province under its Municipal Modernization Program.
Earlier last month at the Rural Ontario Municipal Association (ROMA) conference , Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark pledged an initial sum of $2.6 million to help municipalities identify opportunities for shared services and modernize service delivery. The province is providing funding to 27 joint projects that will help some 130 small and rural municipalities.
“We’re really happy to see that Waterloo Region has been chosen to be part of this,” said Harris this week.
Harris met last Friday with the four rural mayors – Sandy Shantz (Woolwich), Joe Nowak (Wellesley), Les Armstrong (Wilmot) and Sue Foxton (North Dumfries) – at the Woolwich administrative building in Elmira.
“Taxpayers need their local government to deliver modern, efficient services that show respect for their hard-earned dollars. The service modernization funding will help our rural municipalities in Wellesley Township and will help improve how we deliver services and reduce the ongoing costs of providing those services,” said Nowak in a statement following the meeting.
“The funds allow us to explore opportunities for collaboration, partnership and innovation in the areas of fire services, emergency management, communication and information technology,” said Shantz.
While the conversation about joint services began among the four townships before the province announced its regional review, funding for the cooperative venture was provided by the province after it decided to drop any prospect of amalgamation talks.
In endorsing the joint services review last summer, the townships said they’d hoped to demonstrate efficiencies can be found without reducing the region to a single-tier government from the current system.