City of York… Ontario? Mayor asks Ford government for major changes

A sign on a road entering York Region. Global News

Barely a month after the Ford government backtracked on its plans to split up the Region of Peel, one Toronto-area mayor is asking for changes to how his area is governed.

Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti spoke to a provincial committee Wednesday, once again asking for York Region to be amalgamated into one large city.

“In my view, the optimal outcome would be one city in York Region,” he told MPPs. “I’ve made this clear in the past, and I maintain this view today.”

York Region — made up of a series of towns as well as cities like Vaughan and Markham — is one of several regions the Ford government originally suggested could be on the chopping block and in line for radical changes.

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After announcing plans to split the Region of Peel into three standalone municipalities, the province appointed facilitators to Durham, Niagara, Halton, York and Simcoe County. Their job was to look at the regions and decide the most efficient way for them to be governed and administered.

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Months later, however, and after sustained pressure during the Greenbelt scandal, newly appointed Housing Minister Paul Calandra said he no longer planned to use facilitators.

Instead, he said Ontario’s standing committee on heritage, infrastructure and cultural policy would take the reigns of regional reviews.

Speaking to the committee now in charge of deciding how his region will be governed, Scarpitti it was time to “consolidate” the nine municipalities that make up York Region.

“I have long been an advocate for the streamlining of governance in York Region,” he said. “I believe that the government must take bold action to help us as local leaders do what’s best for our residents.”

The pitch is not the first time Scarpitti has raised the idea. In June 2023, he made the same request to the Ford government, again arguing that his region has 77 municipal representatives for 1.2 million people, while the City of Toronto has 26 municipal representatives for three million residents.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford rapidly rejected the request.

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