Located between Lake Simcoe and Toronto, York Region has multiple cities, towns and townships under its control. Bob Mok column series identify challenges and opportunities facing the regional municipality that has a large demographic of immigrants from China.
When Canadians are questioned on the number of levels of government in Canada, they most likely will respond with an answer of “3” - Federal, Provincial, and Municipal. This answer is not entirely correct! Under the Municipal government level, there are 2 distinct levels – the “Upper tier” of Regions, Counties, and Districts that are headed by a Chair or a Warden. There are also "Lower tier" municipalities existing within an upper tier that include Cities, Towns, Townships, and Municipalities and are headed by a Mayor or a Reeve.
Municipal Governments are essential "creatures" of the provincial or territorial governments. The Province can create, modify, or eliminate a municipal government at will and controls exactly which powers a municipal government is entitled to execute. There are currently 444 municipalities, 6 Regions, 10 districts, and many counties, towns, and townships in the province of Ontario.
North of Metropolitan Toronto, the Regional Municipality of York was created in 1971. York Region is located between Lake Simcoe and Toronto with a population of over one million represented by nine cities, towns, and township under its control. The three major members on the York Regional Council – City of Markham, City of Vaughan, and the town of Richmond Hill make up a majority (75%) of York Region's population. The rest of the members are – the towns of Newmarket, Aurora, Georgina, Whitchurch-Stouffville, East Gwillimbury, and the King township. Many of the residents in York Region are immigrants with the majority coming from Mainland China.
Residents and ratepayers in the York Region pay two level of municipal taxes. One portion of it goes to the York Region and the other to their own city, town, or township. Over the years, many of them questioned the efficiency of York Region as a provider of services to their needs. They wonder if their tax dollars can be better spent to procure their own services. They want the cost of the extra level of bureaucrats reduced and its constant political bickering activities among the Council members removed.
In the last couple of years, many incidents suggested the lack of timely communications between York Regional Councillors and the constituents they represented. There are also incidents where residents felt that tax dollars can be managed in a more efficient manner. In the last municipal election in 2014, one Mayoral candidate in Markham even proposed the withdrawal of that City from York Region membership!
The York Region Council consists of 20 elected representatives from each of the constituent towns and cities in the region. These include each of the nine mayors, and 11 regional councillors who are elected from the constituent municipalities as follows:
One each from Georgina and Newmarket, two from Richmond Hill, three from Vaughan and four from Markham. The 21st member (the Chair) is to be elected amongst its representatives – this may be changed to an open election by the public in 2018 pending legislation currently awaiting final approval in the Provincial Parliament.
• 公交/ Viva（巴士）
What does the York Region do for us? Below is a list of their services covering all of the Region's cities, towns, and township:
• Court Services
• Paramedic Services
• Family and Children’s Services
• Long-term Care
• Planning and Economic Development
• Police Services
• Public Health
• Regional Roads and Street Trees
• Social Assistance
• Solid Waste Management
• Transit/Viva (buses)
• York Regional Forest
Next time, we will look into the some of the recent dis-satisfactions expressed by some of the residents living in the York Region.
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