Time to reconsider
ThatAyer’s Cliff is ready to study the idea of merging with Hatley is a bit of fresh air in the municipal mess that reigns in La Belle Province.
You want numbers, after all you had to align some lately on your income tax forms, so let’s start. Quebec population: a tad over 8,000,000; Ontario’s: 13,500,000. Provincial ridings in Quebec: 125, Ontario: 107. Municipalities: 1,112 vs 444. MRCs? Health Boards? School Boards?
For those of you who really flunked math in school, we will explain the rule of three, simply. Take a number, let’s say the population of Quebec, and divide by another, Ontario in this instance. This will give, in this case, around 60%, our magic number. So let’s divide the number of Quebec municipalities as they are now. We get around 667. Let’s be nasty and do the same with the numbers from Ontario: 266!
Population wise, if we were in Ontario, we would only have 266 villages, towns in Quebec.
Let’s be honest, there is always more than numbers. Quebec is larger than Ontario, so what if we tried to only match Ontario? How many billions a year would we save? Not what we spend by our magic number obviously, there is no 40% instant savings here. A road is a road and clearing it will not come much cheaper if done by a larger municipality. But we believe it would be cheaper, corruption aside, maybe by five to ten percent.
Taxes would be a bit more equitable. Right now, any municipality that provides services is subsidizing those who don’t.
What Quebec needs is not more government but a lot less, not more jurisdictions. Everybody of sound mind agrees that the uniqueness of Quebec is due to its French facet, but we do not have to follow that example: with a population of 65,000,000, it has over 36,000 towns, villages and hamlets. The usually unreasonable Italians having only about 8,000.
Shrinking the numbers of municipalities would be an excellent way of having a more fiscally responsible government.
But it has to be a local affair and this is where the Ayer’s Cliff and Hatley merger becomes a model for the whole province. It’s not some edict from Quebec and its functionaries who, like it or not, will do everything in their collective (bargaining) power to fight the idea. They are the ones who have their jobs on the line. Less municipalities means less functionaries (ir)responsible for dealing with them. A lot less. Less MRCs, less Health Boards, less School Boards means even less pencil pushers in Quebec and in regional offices.
Ayer’s Cliff and Hatley are on the right track. They cannot afford to study the implication of not only the financial aspects but all of them, alone. The Quebec Treasury Department, always on the lookout for ways to shave the provincial budget, should give them financial aid to do so.
Other municipalities around the Massawippi Lake and Valley should also join in, finding ways of keeping all of their identities and getting better government. If it comes from the people, chances are that it would work; Imposed from Quebec, another nightmare.