GBA Fall 2019

4 ≥ GBA UPDATE Fall 2019 Continued from page 2 the paper that GBA released for consultation to our member associations this summer: “The coastal townships share a very similar vision for the region, and also share many values based on environmental protection and sound stewardship of the GBBR. The Ontario government should recognize the unique nature of this shared vision and shared needs by ensuring that any municipal restructuring recognizes and protects the GBBR.” – Georgian Bay Association position paper on a Coastal Municipality, July 2019 Of course, that case must be made to the province, which makes the decisions on creating and restructuring municipalities. What the province has in mind is currently unknown, but we believe it is vital to make the case for the optimal result, rather than just wait for a decision that may well be contrary to the interests of our coastal communities and will be cast in stone when it is made. It is an opportunity for the province to make a positive statement on the environment by strengthening governance of an internationally recognized ecological jewel. Municipalities have built-in incentives to preserve the status quo, especially when things are running smoothly. As well, change is difficult, can be controversial, and brings risks that must be managed effectively. Those points are well illustrated through the history of debates on the structure of municipal government in the Georgian Bay region over the last few decades. Despite those challenges, we think it is critical to keep the big picture in focus: the strong shared interest of the coastal communities in preserving the natural environment of our archipelago. We should pursue a result that will best enable us to achieve that greater purpose. GBA must always be visionary in outlook and aim for the highest and best results in protecting what makes Georgian Bay special and unique. GBA fully recognizes that there are many issues to be analyzed and plans to be developed to ensure that coastal municipalities can be efficiently merged on terms that provide mutual benefits and reinforce, rather than detract from, their core values and strategies for their local communities. Any changes must make sense in terms of services to residents and property tax levels. And they must support the province’s goals of increasing efficiencies in local government. In short, any consolidation of coastal municipalities must be win-win. We recognize there is a lot of heavy lifting to be done in any effort to plan and implement a larger coastal municipality. GBA aims to be part of the solution and an effective contributor to those efforts. We think those detailed issues can be resolved and the challenges can be overcome, especially given the strong shared values and interests, not to mention the goodwill that characterizes our communities. Let’s not lose sight of the imperative to meet what is by far our biggest challenge in the face of unprecedented development pressures from southern Ontario: preserving and protecting Georgian Bay. GBA must always be visionary in outlook and aim for the highest and best results in protecting what makes Georgian Bay special and unique. “ “ GBA Forms Advisory Committee on Municipal Amalgamation The GBA Board of Directors has approved the appointment of a special committee to advise GBA on issues relating to potential municipal amalgamations and to liaise with local communities on the issue. The committee is structured to balance representation from northern and southern areas that are currently part of this discussion. Photo: Karl Schiefer, PhD. Chair: John Carson , President, GBA, and Wah Wah Taysee Association in Township of Georgian Bay Management: Rupert Kindersley , Executive Director, GBA, and Sans Souci Copperhead Association in Township of the Archipelago Andrew Hurlbut – Director, GBA and Key River Area Association – North coast, unorganized townships of Harrison, Wallbridge, Henvey and Mowat Tom Scoon – President, Pointe au Baril Islanders’ Association – Township of the Archipelago North Pam Wing – President, West Carling Association – Carling Township Eric Armour – Director, GBA and President, Sans Souci Copperhead Association – Township of the Archipelago South Doug Carr – Former Director, GBA, Cognashene Cottagers’ Association and Honey Harbour Association – Township of Georgian Bay Brett Berman – President, Prisque Road Association, Honey Harbour – Township of Georgian Bay