Amalgamation rhetoric cools

Brantford city hall File photo / Brantford Expositor

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The city is hitting the “reset button” on its relationship with the county after talk of amalgamation raised the ire of Brant Mayor David Bailey.

Brantford Coun. Dan McCreary, at this week’s operations and administration meeting, proposed the two municipalities work together on a common goal .

“We’re going to be partners in prosperity in this region and this is a small step along the way,” said McCreary, who put forth a motion for a joint city-county task force to look into working together on animal control and pound services.

After discussions with Bailey and with help of both city and county staff, McCreary arranged for the motion to come before both councils this month.

“This is a one-off to work with the county. It allows us to hit the reset button and to show we want to be partners.”

As a result, Brantford Mayor Kevin Davis agreed to defer his motion seeking to get city staff to “provide sufficient evidence to support an amalgamation-based restructuring proposal.”

Davis said last month that his motion was in response to a “slap in the face” by county council, which turned down the idea of resurrecting a city-county joint services committee that would look into sharing some services.

“For every action, there is a reaction,” Davis said at the time. “And those comments have caused a reaction with my council.”

But, this week, Davis said he is open to McCreary’s proposal and will shelve the amalgamation motion.

“So long as the city and county continue to have a constructive and respectful dialogue concerning joint services and other possible joint initiatives, I will not ask for the amalgamation motion to be brought back for consideration,” Davis said in an e-mail message.

Bailey has made clear that the county is not interested in discussing amalgamation with the city.

He said his council’s decision to turn down the city’s request to discuss animal services, library sharing and fire dispatch was misunderstood. The county was just saying the municipality also should explore a wider shared-service discussion with other neighbours, said Bailey.

“There may come a time when a senior level of government will decide to force amalgamation on the city and county,” McCreary said Friday.

“For now, it’s not on anyone’s radar other than elected officials. There’s political indifference in the city and trepidation in the county because people there are fearful of the outcome, so the elected councils both reflected those feelings.”

McCreary’s motion to work with the county was supported by councillors. He and Coun. Richard Carpenter will represent the city on the joint task force.

SGamble@postmedia.com

@EXPSGamble

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