July 30, 2019
Media Release – July 30th, 2019
On the evening of July 30th, members of Council from the Township of Augusta, the Township of Edwardsburgh Cardinal, and the Town of Prescott met to discuss the possibility of working together to find efficiencies and savings using the one-time investment from the Province to modernize service deliveries.
Augusta, Edwardsburgh Cardinal and Prescott are 3 of 405 small and rural municipalities in Ontario that received funding from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs & Housing this year. The combined amount to the 3 municipalities is more than $1.7M. In a letter to funding recipients, Minister Steve Clark states:
“While this investment is unconditional, it is intended to help modernize service delivery and reduce future costs through investments in projects such as: service delivery reviews, development of shared service agreements, and capital investments. Our government believes that municipalities are best positioned to understand the unique circumstances and determine where and how this money is best spent.”
In preparation for this tri-municipal meeting, CAOs Matthew Armstrong, Deb McKinstry and Ray Morrison met to exchange information, and identify areas where efficiency opportunities may exist. In their report to members of Council, four major themes were identified: Administration and Operations, Governance, Economic Development, and Quality of Life.
Residents and staff from each of the 3 Townships were in attendance, as well as Brockville Mayor Baker. The meeting was chaired by Tony Fleming, of Cunningham Swan law firm. Opening remarks were prepared by Prescott Mayor Brett Todd, and delivered by Edwardsburgh Cardinal Mayor Pay Sayeau. In Mayor Todd’s remarks, Mayor Sayeau shares that the 3 Mayors have committed to working together, and to respecting the hard-earned dollars of our residents and ratepayers by delivering the best and most cost-effective services for all 3 municipalities. The Mayors have declared a shared interest in embarking on a service delivery review that would encompass all 3 municipalities.
Following the Mayors’ remarks, CAO/Clerk Debra McKinstry shared highlights from the CAO’s report, and stated that the staff of each Township is looking forward to building better communities.
Each Councillor was given 2 minutes to share their ideas on how the 3 municipalities might cooperate in order to meet the efficiency and modernization goals envisioned by the provincial government.
Councillor Hugh Cameron, of Edwardsburgh Cardinal shared a quote “If you want to travel fast, go alone. If you want to travel further, go together.” This sentiment of cooperation was shared by all Councillors at the table, and many expressed that they looked forward to working together, in some capacity to finding efficiencies in service delivery. Some Councillors brought forward the idea of amalgamation of the 3 townships, but not everyone of the group shared the same views.
Recreation was a common theme from many of the Councillors, with some members of Prescott and Edwardsburgh Cardinal wishing to invest in a Community Centre located in the Town of Prescott. Councillor Lee McConnell of Prescott shared that the majority of the users of their current arena are from out of town. Those in favor of sharing in the costs of building and maintaining a new arena feel that it would be a benefit to all 3 townships.
Investing in tourism was brought forward as an idea from more than one township, Councillor Gauri Shankar of Prescott notes that our visitors don’t recognize the boundaries between each town, and he emphasizes the importance of cooperation to grow tourism in the area.
Some additional ideas that were brought forward were the sharing of facilities, equipment and staff; improving internet connectivity; purchasing computer software; investing in health services, and shared library services. Many Councillors recommended the ideas brought forward in the CAO’s report, and agreed with the Mayor’s suggestion in the opening remarks to embark on a service delivery review.
Before the meeting wrapped up, at 7:15pm, Mayor Sayeau delivered Closing remarks to the group, and thanked all of the councilors for putting their ideas forward as a basis for the Mayors to read the extent of the political commitments to various concepts around the table.
“As I have said on numerous occasions in the past, I enter these discussions with an open mind. I am willing to look at any and all options when it comes to improving local government across the three municipalities here in South Grenville and in Leeds-Grenville as a whole,” said Prescott Mayor Brett Todd. “To me, this isn’t about finding efficiencies as much as it is internal reflection and taking the time to ensure that we do the absolute best that we can for our residents. I am very glad to have us all at the table talking, as I believe we can only get where we need to go in Augusta, Edwardsburgh Cardinal, and Prescott through open dialogue and working together.”
Mayor Malanka shares that he is looking forward to working together. He feels very encouraged by the ideas that were brought forward at tonight’s meeting, and notes the common theme of recreation. He notes that we have a large senior population in our Townships, and we need to take care of them with adequate recreation facilities.
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