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Library services stay at status quo in Simcoe County

Task force will continue to investigate efficiencies within the current library model, with a further report to come back to county council in the new year
2021-11-23 LibraryVote JO-001
On Nov. 23, County of Simcoe council voted in favour of moving forward with maintaining a modified status quo system for library services.

During Tuesday morning’s County of Simcoe council meeting, council voted in favour of maintaining the status quo when it comes to the composition of library systems across Simcoe County. 

However, the Regional Government Review Service Delivery Task Force says it will bring more recommendations forward in the new year that could improve library efficiency across Simcoe County.

In October, KPMG Consulting first presented a draft report on the efficiency of library services across Simcoe County to the task force. The report outlined three options for local libraries moving forward:

  • Option 1: Maintain a modified status quo
  • Option 2: Multiple union boards in the county
  • Option 3: Simcoe County would establish a county library with all lower-tier municipal libraries

The consultant recommended Option 3, which they said would realize about $3 million in savings in service delivery annually.

Shortly after the report was released, libraries across Simcoe County, in municipalities such as Collingwood, Bradford West Gwillimbury and Penetanguishene, voiced their opposition to Option 3, raising concerns that moving toward a county library system would ruin the autonomy of individual libraries, as well as concerns about the quality of the report.

For our full story on the opposition and criticisms of the report, click here.

After considering all the options at their meeting on Nov. 9, the task force voted in favour of recommending Option 1 to County of Simcoe council as a path forward.

During Tuesday’s meeting before the vote, Springwater Mayor Don Allen asked task force chair, Wasaga Beach Mayor Nina Bifolchi, why the task force’s recommendation differed from the recommendation from the consultant.

“The (task force) felt Option 3 was a little too aggressive and we could look at our current status of how we do things while still looking for improvements,” said Bifolchi, noting that ideas for possible improvements could be coming forward to council in January for further consideration.

Chief Administrative Officer Mark Aitken said there were some suggestions put forward by the consultants as part of Options 2 and 3 that warranted further investigation to create more cost savings.

Midland Deputy Mayor Mike Ross said he supported Option 3.

“I support Option 3 wholeheartedly. I think it was a no-brainer, in my eyes,” said Ross.

On Tuesday, council voted majority in favour of Option 1.

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Jessica Owen

About the Author: Jessica Owen

Jessica Owen brings 12 years of experience to her role as regional reporter for Village Media, primarily covering Collingwood, County of Simcoe and education.
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