October 17, 2017

A Change Is Needed

August 9 2011

ONE MUSKOKA
505 Highway 118 West

Suite346
Bracebridge,ON
P1L 2G7

 

Examiner / Banner / Forester / Weekender
34 E. P. Lee Drive
Bracebridge,Ontario
P1L 1V2
examnews@muskoka.com

 

The Editor:

 

An Open Letter to All Full-Time and Seasonal Residents of Muskoka:

It is time to take another serious look at governance structure in Muskoka.

Ten years have passed since the last review – $50 million lost.

 

‘Your ONE MUSKOKA Team’ is a group of dedicated, concerned citizens who have begun the search for a better, more efficient and a less expense municipal model for Muskoka.

The team wants to see a review of the seven municipal governments in Muskoka that will lead to the selection of a single, regional government for all of Muskoka. This is not a discussion about choosing the existing district government over the six area municipalities. A completely new, fresh approach is required after more than 40 years with no significant change.

A completely new municipal government is required to take into account the breathtaking changes in infrastructure, education, technology, transportation and communication that have occurred in just four short decades. It must be designed with a careful eye to the future – not just day to day business as usual.

Recently the National Geographic Traveler editors picked Muskoka as number one on their list of ten best 2011 summer trip destinations. Of note, they didn’t pick a specific Muskoka town or area municipality. Muskoka, one clearly identifiable region, was selected for that significant honour.

Muskoka’s governance has not been fully reviewed since 2000 in what was labelled as the Muskoka Local Review – Phase II. This extensive study looked at all reasonable options and concluded that a single-tier municipal government for all of Muskoka would be the most efficient, representative and cost effective option.

That year the Canadian Urban Institute reviewed Muskoka’s system of municipal government and concluded that a single-tier amalgamated municipal government would create yearly savings of $4.5 to $5.25 million. It has been over 10 years, which represents approximately $50 million in potential savings that didn’t happen and, in theory, was made up through property taxes.

At that time the Muskoka Liaison Committee representing 25,000 members of the Muskoka Lakes Association,LakeofBays Association, Georgian Bay Association, Huntsville Ratepayers Association, Bracebridge Ratepayers Association and theTownshipofMuskoka Lakes Ratepayers Associationunanimously endorsed a single tier municipal government for the District of Muskoka.

Sadly, the attempt at change in 2000 failed as a majority of Muskoka’s municipal politicians voted against it.

Currently, there are 50 elected and one appointed politician occupying 73 positions in the District of Muskoka. There are seven councils with support staff duplicated across all of Muskoka’s seven municipal governments.

In 1970 the Province passed the District of Muskoka Act creating the existing municipal structure for Muskoka. Prior to that Muskoka was comprised of four towns, three villages, 18 organized townships and three unorganized townships. Today, few would consider a return to that configuration.

The team has opened a web site www.onemuskoka.ca that will contain, among other things, the background of the participants, previous studies and updates on the team’s progress. Input from individual citizens, ratepayer groups, cottage associations and local politicians will be strongly encouraged.

Your 51 municipal representatives must be told that the present system is unacceptably cumbersome, inefficient and expensive and that a complete review and change of Muskoka’s municipal governance cannot wait another 40 years.

 

‘Your One Muskoka Team’
Mike Provan
Evelyn Brown
Liam Cragg

 

C.C. by e-mail:
Dalton McGuinty – Premier of Ontario
Rick Bartolucci – Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing
MPP Norm Miller
MP Tony Clement

 

C.C. to others:

District Chairman John Klinck
50 Municipal Councillors
Muskoka Ratepayers Association
Muskoka Lakes Association
Lakeof Bays Association
Georgian Bay Association
Huntsville Ratepayers Association
Bracebridge Ratepayer’s Association
Township of Muskoka Lakes Ratepayer’s Association

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