- by Anne Finlay-Stewart, Editor

There are 43 kilometers and two municipalities between Owen Sound and West Grey. So why would a decision made by three members of their town council have an affect on us? You might be surprised.

When Owen Sounders want to "get out of Dodge" for business or pleasure, we are in someone else's municipality within minutes of hopping on the bike or in the car. We unfold the beautiful new Grey County map and discover we are surrounded – Meaford to the east, south and north-east - Georgian Bluffs to the west.

Grey County's cracker jack economic development and tourism teams use that map to promote the region forestsignto visitors, newcomers and businesses. They don't focus on those little dotted lines that separate municipalities but on the colour photos of forests, waterfalls, cycling, hiking and apple orchards - the reasons people come to Grey to play or live. The map humbly claims to be the key to "unlocking all the things Grey County locals have been treasuring for years."

Some of our treasures are the 45 Grey County forest properties we collectively own – over 8500 acres of wooded land for hiking, skiing, cycling, birding – and huntingsignhunting in the various hunting seasons – deer, wild turkey, fox, etc.

West Grey council made a 3 – 1 decision on March 19th to allow gun hunting seven days a week during those hunting seasons in the Grey County forests and other lands within their municipal boundaries. Some local residents are questioning whether their councillors served their constituents' best interests by allowing Sunday hunting, and how that determination was made.

Speaking as a veteran council-watcher, the West Grey process does beg some questions.

But as a Grey County resident, this particular vote in West Grey has focussed my thinking on a bigger issue.

Are local governments representing 7 or 10 or 12,000 residents the best place to make decisions that affect the use of resources they share with eight other municipalities?

How do we best determine the will of the existing local residents while balancing that with meeting the needs of the neighbours, tourists and the future taxpayers we want to help pay for the things we treasure?

Having followed Grey County's multi-year consultation process for developing its official plan, I think we are in a solid position to give serious consideration to single-tier government.


cover photo by the fabulous Grey Bruce Explorer




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