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Watertight-Panel Report En

Watertight-Panel Report En

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Published by: islam456789 on Feb 15, 2013
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Most water services in Ontario are currently governed
directly by a municipal council.In single-tier
municipalities,responsibility lies with the municipal
council and is exercised,in most places,through a
municipal department.In all counties except Oxford,
the lower-tier municipalities govern their own
systems.In some regional municipalities,however,
the regional council and lower-tier councils separately
exercise responsibility for the water-related assets
that they own.In southwestern Ontario,there are
a number of jointly owned systems that draw water
from the Great Lakes and cross county and city
lines.These are governed by boards representing
their municipal owners,which are either single-tier
or lower-tier.

The recommendations of the previous chapter
should go some way toward reducing the complexity
of these arrangements by moving governance,in
most places,to the county and regional municipality
level.As business planning proceeds,however,
municipalities must ask a further question:should
water services continue to be delivered by a munici-
pal department and overseen directly by council?
Or would another arrangement be better?

The Panel observed some drawbacks to direct munic-
ipal governance.Because water infrastructure is
mostly out of sight,either underground or on the
margins of communities,the attention paid to its
long-term needs often reflects the perseverance of
staff rather than the inclination of elected officials,
who have many other more visible issues to deal with.

As well,municipal councils sometimes find it hard
to resist the temptation to use for other needs the
funds generated by,or earmarked for,water systems.
This might be done by charging overhead costs that
are unreasonably high,by dipping into water
reserves,or by reducing capital allocations.All of
these behaviours put at risk the long-term needs of
water and wastewater systems.

Shared municipal governance is characterized by its
own set of issues.Some tension between the largest
and smallest owners is probably inevitable no matter
how carefully designed the governance arrange-
ments.As well,communities that differ greatly from
the majority because of their location,needs or
outlook are likely to chafe at the arrangement,
which they may have little power to influence.

Despite the concerns listed above,the Panel found
a number of excellent systems in small centres and
larger communities alike that were well-served by
the direct governance of their municipal owners.
Surprisingly,it was in the largest cities that gover-
nance of water services appeared occasionally to
focus less on business-like operation and more on
responding to broader social and political concerns.

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