One Muskoka: ‘Fairness’ for those who don’t live here year-round
LETTER TO THE EDITOR:
I’d like to thank Wayne Arbeau for his letter about local governments to the councils in Muskoka, and for sharing it with voters.
I believe in debate because it can bring us to the best choices considering everyone that will be affected by our decisions.
I’m not a fence sitter; I’m a Liberal. I believe in balance and logic.
So often we look at what we do in our communities and how we are affected as individuals without looking at how what we do as individuals affects an entire community.
I’ve thought about a “One Muskoka” level of government and considered that environmentally it might be a really good idea. Local laws that protect our environment wouldn’t be a patchwork, but a solid blanket that will keep us all responsible custodians of our land air and water.
It could be less expensive because we wouldn’t have so many bureaucratic pay cheques to write for one — and as Wayne points out not as many councilor paycheques to write either.
The District of Muskoka was created in 1970 and local mayors and councilors at that time were encouraged to support it in exchange for “free policing.”
It was repealed so the Municipal Act could allow MPAC to base property assessments on values within the surrounding market.
There were many local cottagers who lobbied governments for years, decades, because they didn’t want to pay for our local services here, that they themselves didn’t enjoy year-round.
Many felt that they were paying for our kids schools and they didn’t like it. The result of that lobby effort was to find a “Fair Property Tax System.”
After decades of debate and deliberation the Province of Ontario’s property tax system is now based on Market Value Assessment.
This proves that you should be careful what you wish for because many of the same people who complained about paying for our kids schooling are still complaining because their property tax values are based on the amount their movie star neighbours’ paid for their seasonal residences.
The “fairness” goes further.
Muskoka no longer has “free policing”; our schools are governed from Lindsay; our hospitals are governed from Barrie.
One Muskoka, I’m afraid, will mean that our local governance will come from the GTA because close to 60 per centof the voters in One Muskoka are from outside the area. Those voters don’t give a rat about how local people survive in the months they’re not here.
Case in point is the BalaFalls showdown with Alice Murphy.
Maybe we need to get rid of the District government and go back to our small townships instead?
Amalgamations intend to reduce the number of politicians and bureaucrats, but it hasn’t worked out that way for us. When you listen to the local representatives it is the ones who haven’t grown up here who want more money to represent us.
I call it suck and blow.
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