Last month, we issued a press release asking York Region Council to implement simple initiatives in order to increase transparency and accountability in light of Bill 8. And judging from council members reaction to our suggestions, we gathered they weren’t too impressed with the idea.
But it seems despite Council’s lack of interest with transparency, York Region staff took it upon themselves to recommend a “Transparency and Accountability” initiative that included our suggestions anyways.
“We’re thrilled”, said York Region Taxpayers Coalition president Maddie Di Muccio, “because staff did the right thing. This is a big win for taxpayers. Transparency is a big mandate of this organization.”
The recommendation was based on the province’s new Bill 8, introduced July 2014, that will give provincial Ombudsman Andre Marin more jurisdiction to hold municipalities accountable. Last February, we hosted a successful event featuring Mr. Marin which was attended by many local municipal councillors and staff.
Although the recommendation specifically encouraged the appointment of an Ombudsman, Georgina mayor Margaret Quirk asked for staff to include a Code of Conduct for Council members when she realized none existed.
Richmond Hill’s regional councillor Brenda Hogg made her feelings known when she explained staff’s recommendations to make York Region Council more transparent and accountable for taxpayers would “cost finances, time, and will make work come to a grinding halt.” Hogg went on to say the direction was “an overreaction” and that investigations by an integrity commissioner requested by members of the public would be used “as a political tool.”
York Region Taxpayers Coalition will continue to follow up with staff’s recommendation to implement more transparency and accountability at the Region and we will report back to our members in the fall, when staff’s report is scheduled to be brought to council.