In Northern Ontario living outside city limits has drawbacks other than your road being the last to be plowed. Unincorporated areas have a slew of problems ranging from who pays for local services to who decides what services locals get. Northern Policy Institute has released a new report about the challenges of unincorporated areas and possible solutions for local governance.
Time to Reorganize: Why Northern Ontario Should Follow BC’s Lead in Local Governance by Anthony Noga examines unincorporated areas in Ontario’s North and how they interact with municipalities and First Nations communities. The author was asked to explore how to enhance local government accountability, fairness, and sustainability in Northern Ontario. The author also conducted a specific case study of Terrace Bay, Schrieber, and Rossport (Pays Plat) in Northwestern Ontario as part of his analysis.
Noga looks at evidence from across Canada, including the experience with similar rural and remote challenges in Bristish Columbia and New Brunswick. Noga recommends that Ontario look at British Columbia’s Regional Districts (RD’s) as the optimal solution. RD’s are a form of regional governance that was designed to address the same issues this study looked at. RDs have operated successfully for over 50 years, are flexible to local needs, appear to lower costs and raise service levels, and foster collaboration among municipal, unincorporated, and First Nations communities.
The report has 12 recommendations on how to best implement Regional Districts in Ontario to ensure that the system is flexible and adaptable to the unique circumstances of each region.
“Ninety-three per cent of Northern Ontario’s landmass falls into unincorporated areas,” said Charles Cirtwill, President and CEO of NPI, “BC has delivered significant improvements through their Regional Districts. This shouldn’t be ignored. Ontario should be looking at a solution that improves governance, enhances investment and popultion attraction, controls costs over time, and delivers sustainable services.”
Want to learn more, read the report here: https://www.northernpolicy.ca/unincorporated-areas