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Neighbouring Grey County divided on municipal restructuring

Grey County council was clearly divided on the subject of possible future municipal restructuring or boundary adjustments
Grey County 1
The Grey County building.

The “R” word has been spoken around the Grey County council table.

Restructuring – as in municipal restructuring. The topic was raised at Grey County council’s recent meeting.

At the meeting, CAO Kim Wingrove delivered the county’s new strategic plan for 2024-27 and during the course of the discussion the topic of municipal restructuring was raised.

Owen Sound Mayor Ian Boddy said he was concerned that the new plan didn’t contain any references to possible restructuring, boundary changes and service sharing – topics that were discussed during council’s strategy sessions to develop the plan.

“There are many ways to become more efficient. I was a little disappointed when I read it,” said Boddy, who said a resolution about the topic might be coming. “It’s up to us now to bring a motion and put it on the table.”

Boddy’s comments found support from Meaford Mayor Ross Kentner.

“It wasn’t a popular subject,” Kentner said about restructuring being discussed at the strategy sessions. “We should be ready and advancing our best ideas on how restructuring might happen.”

The comments led to general discussion on the topic of restructuring and it was obvious council was divided on the subject.

“I don’t know if there is a consensus. I didn’t see nine, 10 or 12 councillors saying: 'yes, we need to have these conversations,'” said Grey Highlands Deputy Mayor Dane Nielsen, who expressed concerns the county bringing municipal restructuring into its strategic priorities might not sit well with local councils. “(The county) telling the lower tier what to do, I don’t think that’s the way we want to go.”

Chatsworth Mayor Scott Mackey agreed and said county council had to have a broader discussion on restructuring before it could become a priority in the county’s strategic plan.

“Before we start doing anything, we need to have a consensus that this is a topic we want to go into,” said Mackey.

Grey County has not seen any municipal restructuring in more than 20 years. The late '90s and early 2000s was the last time there were any major changes.

At that time, the lower-tier municipalities restructured into eight new municipalities and the City of Owen Sound agreed to join the county structure (the city had been a separated city until that time) as the ninth member of Grey County.

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About the Author: Chris Fell, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Chris Fell covers The Blue Mountains and Grey Highlands under the Local Journalism Initiative, which is funded by the Government of Canada
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