Skip to main content

Most York region mayors say no to Markham's request to become one big city

Share

Several mayors are denouncing a call from an Ontario municipality asking the provincial government to consolidate York Region into one large city, saying they were not consulted or informed on the request.

Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti issued a statement calling for the "bold step" on Wednesday.

York Region consists of nine municipalities—Markham, Aurora, East Gwillimbury, Georgina, King Township, Richmond Hill, Vaughan and Whitchurch-Stouffville. It also has a regional government.

In the letter, Scarpitti argues there are 77 municipal representatives within York Region for about 1.2 million people. He compares this to the 26 councillors now representing about three million people in Toronto.

“Consolidating into one city would result in significant savings in both operating and capital budgets. Municipalities invest millions in cybersecurity, water billing, tax billing and recreational registration systems. A consolidated city will generate substantial savings," Scarpitti said.

In early June, the government fast-tracked a bill to dissolve Peel Region by 2025, making Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon independent, single-tier municipalities.

This will remove the regional governance of the area which controls core services like EMS, water treatment and garbage collection.

When the idea was first proposed publicly, Housing Minister Steve Clark said that it will be naming regional facilitors to the regions of Durham, Halton, York, Niagara, Simcoe and Waterloo to determine if the government is “relevant to the needs of its communities.”

However, Clark also stressed that if other mayors want a different system, they should speak out publicly.

“I'm open to conversations with people but they're not going to be behind closed doors. If the mayor wants a different format, they're going to have to get in front of a podium and talk about it,” he said at the time.

In a statement on Wednesday, Clark stressed the province has “no intention of unilaterally imposing amalgamations on municipalities in these areas.”

He said that regional facilitators will be named in the coming weeks and will make recommendations on how municipalities can respond to issues such as housing.

‘I FUNDAMENTALLY DISAGREE’

When reached for comment, multiple York region mayors told CTV News Toronto they were not consulted on Scarpitti’s request and that they “fundamentally disagree” with an amalgamation.

The mayor of Newmarket said he believes the financial arguments being made are a “false premise.”

“These theoretic savings that always are believed to be there, evaporate very, very quickly when tested by reality,” he told CTV News Toronto.

“This brings great risk of reduced democratic voice for our residents, and really can come can potentially threaten the character and the identity of our communities.”

Each of the municipalities that make up York Region has its own priorities and as such, would suffer if they were combined into one big city, argued Aurora Mayor Tom Mrakas.

“We are unique communities. We provide different levels of service individually,” he said while adding that he isn’t opposed to reviewing efficiencies to ensure the two-tiered government functions smoothly.

Mayor Iain Lavatt from Whitchurch-Stouffville said that he also believes there may be opportunities to find efficiencies and reduce supplication and costs; however this “can be accomplished without the amalgamation of York into one big city.”

“I believe that it is the uniqueness of our municipalities that are York Region’s greatest strength,” he wrote in a statement.

Richmond Hill Mayor David West, meanwhile, said that he was “shocked” to hear that another mayor would make a decision that would impact other municipalities without consultation.

“This whole announcement caught me very much by surprise,” he said. “No one voted for me or any other member of my council to dissolve Richmond Hill and that's essentially what would happen.”

“Having nine municipalities working together, but still being distinct and unique places for people in York Region is absolutely a good thing, and amalgamating it all into one big municipality would erase a great deal of the work that we've worked so hard to accomplish.”

CTVNews.ca Top Stories

Who is Usha Vance, the wife of Trump's running mate?

JD Vance has had several introductions to the American people: as the author of a memoir on what ails the White working class, as a newly elected Republican senator in his home state of Ohio and, on Monday, as his party’s nominee for vice president. His wife, Usha, has been by his side through it all.

Stay Connected