Friday, July 14, 2017
The CAOs, the Treasurers, the Planners, the Public Works officials and other Staff of the local area municipalities and the Region meet periodically to share ideas, best practices, and discuss opportunities for working together better.
I recall three times in the last 6 years where the Mayors and CAOs met. Once at City Hall in St. Catharines and hosted by former Mayor McMullan (prior to 2014); once in Niagara on the Lake at White Oaks about 7 months ago; and recently at the Town Hall in Fort Erie. (Please note that I did not host or call the meeting, as one suggested.)
As the notes of the last meeting show, the discussions are about ways in which we can work more collaboratively together. (Please click here to review the notes from that June meeting.)
For example, when the City of Welland CAO reiterated the public presentation he recently made about Regional Development Charges, the direction of the discussion with the Mayors and CAOs was about the impact on local area municipalities.
Then, it was the Regional Economic Development Officer who presented information about the Community Improvement Plans and the Region’s hope of working with the municipalities for more collaboration. It is noteworthy that this discussion was initiated by the Region to further something called “Team Niagara” – better collaboration across Niagara.
Next were discussions regarding Intermunicipal Transit and Airports. Again, joint areas of interest.
Then there was an important discussion regarding shared services and administration. The CAOs are working on increasing ways for the Cities and Towns to share specific services to find efficiencies and work together. These could reduce costs – because of economies of scale – or help with economic development across Niagara. Some examples were cited. I suggested that the CAOs make recommendations to local Councils for the various areas in which we might work closer together.
Finally, since my elected colleagues had already heard me at the Region address Pelham Council’s jurisdictional concerns of Regional Council getting involved in the affairs of Niagara’s Cities and Towns, the Town’s CAO addressed this jurisdictional concern from an administration perspective to other CAOs.
The Niagara Mayors have met occasionally, on our own, through the years. I understood from former Mayor Goulbourne (Welland) that the Mayors met often during the 2003-06 term. I understand that during the 1997-2000 and 2000-03 terms there were meetings of the Mayors.
The Southern Mayors (Pelham, Welland, Port Colborne, Wainfleet, Fort Erie, Niagara Falls) have gotten together more frequently recently – 2-3 times per year – to plan our joint presentations to the joint Chambers of Commerce.
The Mayors of Welland, St. Catharines, and Niagara Falls and the Regional Chair and CAOs have met extensively (every 3 or 6 weeks) over the last year-and-a-half to help coordinate efforts on Intermunicipal Transit.
People expect Niagara’s Cities, Towns, and Townships to share best practices, the find efficiencies, and to work together. These types of meetings should continue to help all to meet those goals.
Posted by Mayor Dave Augustyn