March 22, 2018

Half a Century and Still no Change In most people’s lives 52 years is a long time. As our lives unfold, we change, we grow and we adapt to the world us around to ensure our success, improve our lives and learn new things. Not so with our District Council. The current group of District Councillors will consider any change to their structure only when the government, by amendments to the Municipal Act, forces them to do so. The first significant change will occur in the 2018 fall election when the people will elect the District Chair when they cast their ballots. One Muskoka has advocated this change for almost eight years. It was by government direct intervention that this happened. The second change in the legislation targets the number of elected councillors to the district council. In May 2016, Debbie Crowder, the District Clerk, prepared an excellent report on the history of the regional government including some options on composition for consideration by the members of Council. The report sat on the shelf. No action. Finally, a Composition Committee was formed under the Chairmanship of Mayor Bob Young. The first meeting was held in July 2017 with a recommendation to hire a consulting firm to provide options on the council composition. With a dead line of October 16, 2017, the firm scrambled to complete the scope of the work. A public meeting was held to hear the draft report options, regulatory requirements and the time line for implementation. Few members of the public attended. The composition committee then met to finalize the report. There was some thoughtful discussion, some reasonable ideas and some outrageous comments at the meeting. It was not long before it became very clear, there will be no change to the 52 councillors that govern the district and the municipalities. Was it a deliberate, calculated move on the part of some councillors to leave the matter to the eleventh hour to ensure there will be no change (if then) until 2022? Muskoka will continue to be one of the most over governed regions in the province of Ontario. One where current councillors protect their own backyards at the expense of putting Muskoka first. At the November 20th District Council will receive the recommended motion for no change. Prediction: 52 years with 52 councillors will continue.

Options for Change at District Council

If the voters in Muskoka ever needed to pay attention to political change the time is now!

The district Councillors will be debating at the October 16th meeting how many councillors are needed to represent you at the council table.

We encourage citizens to read the recent report on the District Council Composition on the district website, call or email your Councillor for clarification on the various options.

One Muskoka supports an option that reduces the number of councillors and is based on 100% of all residents, as determined from the MPAC voters list.

Representation by population is the democratic foundation in our society. However, let us not slip down the slippery slope of representation by property values. The more valued your property the more representation you receive.

Muskoka is set for significant change when the newly elected District Chair takes office in October 2018. We need a strong leader who wears the Muskoka First Hat and who addresses the overlap and duplication that exists in our over governed region.

No system of government is perfect, but we are continuously trying to move Muskoka forward by creating a mandate to engage citizens. Before casting your vote be very well informed. Choosing the right person to represent you is essential. This will be a critical election to ensure Muskoka’s ongoing success.