Midhurst/April 12, 2019 – The County of Simcoe is a strong collective of growing and prosperous municipalities within Central Ontario, and is also a municipal corporation providing a vast range of critical regional services which our residents rely on, including service provisions in the areas of health services, social and community services, and engineering and environmental services to name a few.
The County has tremendous regard for our member municipal partner, the Town of Bradford West Gwillimbury which serves as the southern gateway into our region from the GTA. The County is proud of the significant services, infrastructure and investments we provide to the residents of Bradford West Gwillimbury, and due to the Town's growth, the County has responded with increased infrastructure investments and further program and services commitments to the community to meet increasing needs.
Bradford West Gwillimbury, based on their outlined concerns relating to new development growth, property value assessment growth, and the existing tax structure framework and policy, undertook a study in 2017 to assess the perceived value of County taxes collected vs County services received. While the report certainly showed various specific conclusions between the different services and capital infrastructure investments based on tax structure, the County was pleased that the overall conclusion of the report could be readily interpreted to reflect that the residents of Bradford West Gwillimbury are receiving good value in the services and infrastructure they receive from the County portion of their tax dollars, and that the current governance arrangement is beneficial when compared to other options.
In response to the more recent Regional Government Review, the Town has once again reflected on their growth challenges and municipal structure, and has apparently undertaken a process to look at the prospect of becoming a separated city under the County structure, rather than a member municipality within the County structure. They have received some preliminary high level analyses from their staff, and are undertaking a public process to determine whether or not they make such a request to the Province as part of the Regional Review process. The County has been asked to comment on this undertaking.
While County Council certainly respects the independent directions, processes and undertakings of the Town, we are concerned that some of the information being provided in this process is not fully complete or inclusive of all the appropriate financial and logistical considerations, meaning that residents and the local Council may be asked to formulate opinions with potentially incomplete or inaccurate information.
Through a unanimous County Council resolution, County staff were directed to undertake some more inclusive analyses of the potential impacts of the Town's recent consideration. While this undertaking when complete, may well provide a much more accurate portrayal of the actual financial and logistical implications of this suggestion, it in no way addresses the question of this even being a plausible consideration of the Regional Government Review.
Despite these processes and undertakings, it is the County's desire to continue to work with the Town of Bradford West Gwillimbury as our partners. Regardless of what may or may not come of this local process and position, or even what changes might come out of the Provincial Regional Government Review, the County will continue to work very hard to provide the most appropriate and efficient services and investments that we can for the benefit of all our residents.
~ County of Simcoe Warden George Cornell