Blue Mountain Ratepayers' Association

A Blue Mountains/Grey County clash coming?

Thu., Feb 23, 2017 | By Chris Fell – Editor.


A unity crisis is not fun. Most Canadians my age remember the days when Quebec’s separation seemed like a real possibility and cast a dark shadow over the future of Canada.

It’s been with a general sense of unease as I have watched the relationship between The Blue Mountains and Grey County become strained.

It’s entirely possible in the coming years that Grey County residents are going to be staring at a full-blown unity crisis of our own.

The Blue Mountains is not happy. That much is clear and the town’s elected representatives are voicing their displeasure. This isn’t anything new. I can remember leaders from The Blue Mountains casting a wary eye toward Grey County more than a decade ago.

The issues between the two boil down to finances. Property values in The Blue Mountains are much higher than anywhere else in the county. That means taxpayers there pay a higher proportion of county taxes than the other eight Grey County municipalities — representing a full quarter of the county’s tax levy.

Many leaders from The Blue Mountains have looked at what it pays to Grey County and have legitimately wondered what they are getting in return. The important social programs delivered by the county are based in Owen Sound. The county roads network in The Blue Mountains is slim. There are no county homes for the aged in The Blue Mountains. The Blue Mountains has its own planning department capable of taking care of development matters. The Blue Mountains is also a border town and its local economy is highly integrated with neighbours in Simcoe County.

These are all legitimate concerns and real issues. Mind you, they are not Grey County’s fault. The county can only operate in the tax system the province decrees. And the current system sets property taxes based on the perceived value of a property. There is nothing the county can do to alter the basic fact that properties in some areas are more valuable than similar properties in other areas.

I’m concerned about what happens in the future. I may live in Meaford, but I spend a lot of time in The Blue Mountains. It’s not good to see a partner in Grey County unhappy. In recent years, the county has become a much more agile and strategic organization that has shown capacity and openness to deal with issues that arise. Hopefully, continued dialogue and openness can help alleviate some of these problems.