The Role of the County Warden

Photo supplied.
Otonabee-South Monaghan Deputy Mayor leads Peterborough County Council.

On your tax bill, in addition to levies from the municipality and the province, there is a third one for Peterborough County.

This is the upper tier municipal level which serves eight member municipalities including Cavan Monaghan.  Two-tiered municipal structures such as this are located primarily in rural areas and are designed to allow smaller governments to join together to achieve some efficiencies in the delivery of municipal services.  Single tier municipalities are larger urban centres, such as the City of Peterborough which deliver all municipal services outlined under the Municipal Act, including water, health, policing, transit and social services.   While there is some co-operation in services with the city in social services and housing initiatives, it is not part of Peterborough County.

Among the services provided by Peterborough County are arterial roads, fittingly called “County” Roads, recycling and hazardous waste disposal, land use planning services including approvals for subdivisions and condominiums, paramedic services, public health, social services and housing.

Peterborough County is governed by Peterborough County Council.  Municipal council members are elected by the residents of their townships, and the Mayors and Deputy Mayors automatically become members of County Council. This group elects the Council Chair, called the Warden.

This position acts as the Chief Executive Officer of the County, and chairs all County Council meetings to ensure the business of the county moves forward, provides leadership and represents the County at official functions.  Currently the position is held by Bonnie Clark, who is in her second term as Deputy Mayor of Otonabee- South Monaghan.

In 2023, she was acclaimed Vice-Chair of the Eastern Ontario Wardens’ Caucus (EOWC), which is an association of more than 100 rural municipalities representing 800,000 residents in eastern Ontario.

At last week’s Rural Municipalities of Ontario Association conference, Ms. Clarke met with provincial representatives advocating for rural municipalities whose needs differ significantly from those of large, urban centres.  She was looking for support provincial housing and infrastructure programs that are more consistent with to rural realities.

The Wardens believe that upper tier government levels should be eligible for housing program funding: not just to create more social housing but more housing in general.  Rural Ontario counties want to create more local housing but do not have access to significant new housing programs such as the Rapid Housing Initiative and the National Co-investment Fund which both operate under the Canada Housing and Mortgage Corporation banner.  They believe that the housing shortage in their communities is a barrier to economic growth.  EOWC members would also like access to provincial infrastructure to allow valuable projects to move forward, such as the creation of communal water and waste water systems to share this infrastructure expense among municipalities.

The EOWC has asked the province to develop a framework that respects municipalities’ growing responsibilities and financial realities in the upcoming provincial budget.  In other words, they want the province to provide adequate and consistent funding for responsibilities that are downloaded to municipalities, which push expenses normally funded by income taxes and federal government transfers into the property taxes.  KG

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