Most of us know what our federal and provincial governments are responsible for, but things often get pretty muddy for people when we start talking about regional and municipal governments. What’s important to note, though, is that decisions made at the regional and municipal levels of government are the ones that most directly impact your daily life.
In Niagara, your regional government administers/provides these services:
- affordable housing
- public health
- social assistance
- Niagara Emergency Medical Services (ambulances)
- Niagara Regional Police Service
- water and wastewater services (drinking water and treating your wastewater)
- waste management (organic, recycling, and garbage collection)
- seniors’ services (primarily long-term care homes)
- children’s services (childcare centres and childcare subsidies)
- Provincial Offences Courts Administration
- Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority
There are also a number of shared responsibilities between your regional government and your municipal government (and how they are shared may vary depending upon your municipality):
- road maintenance and construction, including snow removal
- transit (coordination between services that are currently independently operated either by the region or by one of the municipalities)
- land use planning and development
What’s especially important to note here is that while higher levels of government may make decisions that supersede a decision of a lower level of government, that can only happen in cases where both levels of government are responsible for such a thing. For those who might remember, an example of this would be the smoking bylaws that were passed in and around 2000. Our regional government made a decision to have establishments build closed/ventilated rooms for smokers in public places (bars, cafes, etc.), then a while later, the provincial government (which is also responsible for public health initiatives passed a law that there would be no more smoking in public places.
Higher levels of government don’t act as ‘parents’ of lower levels of government.
There will be more to come on this, but this is an important point in why we need to Reset the Region. Regional government has little to no business interfering in municipal government matters.