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Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce

Re: The rejection of a motion to form a citizens’ committee on governance

On behalf of Niagara’s business community, we wish to express our desire to see the question of governance addressed in Niagara. The Region is now fifty years old. Even before the COVID-19 crisis, it was accurate to say that much had changed politically, economically, and socially since its founding in 1970.

No organization can go half a century without undergoing extensive reviews of its organization, structure, and goals. Businesses from solopreneurs to Fortune 500 multinationals have continually reinvented themselves in response not only to their own evolution, but to a changing world. Charities and non-profits have done the same. COVID-19 has forced every company in Niagara, Canada, and the world to rethink the way they do business and to remake themselves. In many sectors, social media, ecommerce, and free trade had previously forced similar changes, and those are merely the shifts that have occurred within our lifetimes.

We feel that every organization must be willing to re-examine itself and to change when change is due. With the rejection of a motion to form a citizens’ committee on governance, this council has signalled that it is unwilling to examine itself and to ask whether it might need to change.

In its decision not to force reforms on municipal governments from above, the Government of Ontario made it clear that it hoped municipalities would conduct their own reviews and reform themselves as needed. It even set aside funds for them to do so. It closed one door, but it opened another.

Some have voiced the opinion that no further study of this matter is needed because many studies have already been done. However, those studies all recommended reforms. Only one was acted upon: the Mayo Report of 1966, which resulted in the creation of Niagara as we know it today. Since 1970, three further major reports on Niagara’s governance have been conducted, one very recently, and no noteworthy action has resulted from any of them. If Council feels that enough study has been done that it can now act, it should act. If it does not feel that the existing studies were adequate, you have the opportunity to commission another specifically aimed at filling the gaps.

This is an opportunity for Niagara and we encourage you to reconsider your earlier decision.

 

Kindest regards,

Mishka Balsom