Collingwood Mayor Brian Saunderson would like to cross county lines for a new roundtable group he’s proposing could look at local issues through a regional lens.
Saunderson wants to start a “regional municipal forum,” including the mayors and chief administrative officers from Collingwood, Clearview Township, Wasaga Beach, Grey Highlands, and The Blue Mountains.
“With the number of regional issues we’re starting to confront – COVID recovery, attainable housing, transportation, a homeless shelter – it just seemed like an appropriate time to formalize it a bit more so there’s regular consultation to talk about local issues with regional impacts,” said Saunderson.
In Collingwood there are some feasibility studies currently underway or about to be underway that Saunderson said are already seeking regional input. For example the homeless shelter feasibility study, the arts and culture centre study, and a public transit study all include outreach to neighbouring municipalities.
Saunderson hopes the new forum will also bring together communities that are currently separated by the borders of Grey and Simcoe Counties (The Blue Mountains and Grey Highlands are part of Grey County).
“I think a big stumbling block is the county boundary that separates The Blue Mountains and Grey Highlands from us,” said Saunderson. “Also, we’re getting more conscious or cognizant of the regional aspect of issues.”
The mayor pointed to the rising costs of projects and the need to share resources for facilities and infrastructure where possible.
“It never hurts to … step back and address something from a regional context to see if there’s a way to share or coordinate resources,” said Mayor Saunderson, noting he and Clearview Mayor Doug Measures have had regular conversations about trying to find a way to add a bus route to Nottawa.
The mayor is seeking council’s backing for the endeavour with a motion on the Jan. 25 meeting agenda. He has already received informal support from the area mayors.
Pending council approval, he and Collingwood CAO Sonya Skinner will reach out in a formal manner to mayors and CAOs to set up a first meeting to establish the roundtable’s terms of reference.