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Time to consolidate York municipalities: Scarpitti

Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti is continuing his “bold” call for ‘One York, One City, One Step.’

“It is time to consolidate all nine municipalities in York Region,” he told the provincial committee overseeing the study on regional governance at a meeting in Vaughan on January 17.

In September, Municipal Affairs Housing Minister Paul Calandra wrote to the Standing Committee on Heritage, Infrastructure and Cultural Policy asking members to review two-tier municipalities in the province. The request followed former housing minister Steve Clark’s decision to step down amid the Greenbelt land-swap controversy. In November 2022, Clark had announced plans to appoint facilitators to review six regional governments: County of Simcoe, Durham, Halton, Niagara, Waterloo and York.

Scarpitti conceded that his suggestion to consolidate York’s municipalities may sound “bold,” but he believes doing so would increase efficiency and save money. Excluding the education portion of a property tax bill, 70 per cent of taxes collected already go to York Region, he reasoned.

“We would only be consolidating the remaining 30 per cent. A consolidation would realize significant savings in both operating and capital budgets…One tax bill. One planning department. One water department. One fire department,” he said, noting York Region is already responsible for police and paramedic services.

In addition to consolidating economic development, roads, recreation, corporate communication and other departments, the move would reduce the number of elected officials, which currently stands at 77. York Region has a population of 1.2 million, while the City of Toronto’s population of three million is served by 26 elected officials, Scarpitti reminded. 

The Region shares the provincial government’s commitment to building more houses. “Now, more than ever, we need to be agile,” he said. “We need more homes, we need more roads and transit, we need more infrastructure – and we need to be building them faster. It’s not just about planning and getting approvals; it’s the integrated process of getting those homes built and those communities created. We need to make the whole process more efficient.”

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