By: The Working Forest Staff
OTTAWA — Last week, the Government of Ontario met with municipal leaders at the annual conference of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario in Ottawa. At the conference, Prabmeet Sarkaria, Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction, invited mayors and other municipal leaders from across Ontario to a roundtable to hear their ideas on simplifying interactions with the province.
The leaders also addressed regulatory barriers to municipal services and small business investment in their communities. Along with mayors from Mississauga, London, Kitchener, Windsor and Welland, Minister Sarkaria’s Roundtable was attended by MPPs Jim McDonell and Parm Gill, Parliamentary Assistants to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing — and by other municipal representatives, including councilors, public works officials and social services department leads.
At the roundtable, Minister Sarkaria said the provincial government places a high priority on modernizing regulations to reduce duplication, streamlining processes and empowering municipalities to better serve their communities. The engaged and thoughtful discussions at the roundtable made it clear this is also a vital issue for local governments.
Municipal leaders raised concerns about outdated processes and suggested more efficient ways to achieve shared provincial and municipal objectives to help communities grow, drive local investment and create good jobs.
“Municipal governments have a finger closest on the pulse of the needs of our communities and regularly have to navigate the processes that the province puts in place,” Associate Minister Sarkaria told the municipal leaders. “I received valuable insights into key issues and suggestions on how we can collaborate to resolve them. I’m going to take the things shared back to our partner ministries to see how we can address the issues raised.”
Ontario has already taken action to streamline processes and update regulations on municipalities as part of its plan to make Ontario work smarter for businesses and better for people. Last Spring the province eliminated the need for municipalities to go through an Environmental Assessment process for low-risk activities, like putting in a bike lane or undertaking a streetscaping process.
The government is also dramatically reducing the number of routine reports it requires municipalities to file with provincial ministries, which currently tops 400. Ontario has identified 94 unnecessary reports it will wind down and another 27 it will consolidate and simplify.