Ontario Premier says he won't shrink size of other councils 'in near future'
Ontario Premier Doug Ford at AMO meeting in Ottawa
Joanne Schnurr, CTV Ottawa
Published Monday, August 20, 2018 4:42PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, August 20, 2018 4:44PM EDT
Ontario Premier Doug Ford said today he has no further plans to shrink the size of municipal councils in this province.
That message came while Toronto's council debates legal action against the government on this very issue. Doug Ford was in Ottawa today delivering a speech to a room full of municipal politicians, many of them running for re-election in a couple of months. But it was the way the premier phrased that "promise" that had some questioning what's coming down the pike.
It was a warm greeting at the Association of Municipalities Ontario (AMO) for a former council colleague; now premier of Ontario. Doug Ford told the municipal politicians their work is critical to building stronger communities.
“I occasionally get asked if I intend to introduce similar law in Ottawa,” Ford said in his speech, adding that he has no immediate plans to shrink the make-up of their councils
as he did Toronto, cutting the number of council seats there nearly in half. A special council meeting was underway today in Toronto where the city was weighing its legal options against the province, just as the Premier was speaking here in Ottawa.
“These were unique situations,” Ford continued, “and no, we do not, do not have plans for similar legislation in our near future.”
Ontario's former premier, also in Ottawa today, said the move has created chaos in Toronto and uncertainty elsewhere.
“I don't think we can count on what is or is not going to happen,” Kathleen Wynne told reporters, “because there has been so little predictability so far.”
Mark Taylor, Ottawa’s deputy mayor and an AMO board member said Ford’s remarks did calm the council water’s a little bit, but “He (Ford) did add at the end of it, “for now,” Taylor said, “So that's going to be a discussion over the years to come.”
On the cannabis front, Ford repeated his promise to let municipalities opt out of retail stores but Ottawa's mayor was hoping for more specifics.
“The challenge we have,” said Jim Watson, “is that there are a lot more questions than answers right now.”
It's an issue smaller communities are grappling with as well, uncertain about who will fund the policing of pot shops and how the "opt out" would work/.
“It could be a good thing for economic development of our community,” said Janice Visneskie Moore, the Mayor of Killaloe, Hagarty and Richards township, “or maybe something our community wouldn’t support so I need to know the details before I’m prepared to opt in our or out.”
The question of whether to opt out will really be up to individual councils. Ontario just weeks away from an election and clearly this will be one hot topic for discussion.