A Commentary by Doug Draper
‘Don’t dare ever mention the A-word.’
As a journalist in Niagara, Ontario, I’ve heard variations of that line around municipal council tables in this region for the better part of for more than 30 years.
It’s as if any talk of amalgamating municipalities in this region is akin to promoting some form of pornography or an apocalypse. And it’s as much to say; ‘Let’s continue on with a xenophobia and narrow, parochial vision that continues to prop up 13 municipal corporations in Niagara that have fail we, the people, so much that our region continues to suffer one of the highest unemployment rates in Canada, that continues to see young people coming out of college and university fleeing this region for greener pastures, and that continues to resist building a truly regional transit system that has been available in almost every other region in southern Ontario for more than a decade now.
So we should say thanks to Tom Rankin of Niagara-based Rankin Construction and to a handful of other prominent business people in Niagara for attending a roundtable of regional government this June and calling for another look at amalgamating our 13 – yes that’s right, THIRTEEN – municipalities in to one.
These business people and others in the past have tried to make a case that attracting more businesses and jobs to Niagara has suffered from the amount of bureaucracy that has to be gone through dealing with two levels of municipal government. But over and over again, due to too many mayors and councillors at the local level who place parochial interests above the interests of Niagara as a whole, these calls for a united region have gone nowhere. Continue reading