It’s an idea that, frankly, needs to be stopped dead in its tracks—that being the proposal by City/County Councillor Anne Marie Gillis that would see Sarnia rejoin the Association of Municipalities of Ontario.
Let’s be clear: Sarnia, which once had its “own” membership in the lobbying organization, is at the table through the County of Lambton, the second tier level of government. Any influence that the County has at the AMO—for whatever it’s worth—can be asserted through that membership.
Gillis apparently believes it is time for Sarnia to have its “own” membership (whatever that could possibly mean), saying Sarnia should stop “riding on the coattails” of the County.
Nearly 450 Ontario municipalities—Lambton County among them—are members of the AMO, which develops policies on municipal issues. It also advocates on behalf of its members to the provincial and federal governments.
The reasons for Sarnia having dropped its membership—some $10,000 to $15,000 a year said one report—should be the same ones for keeping things the way they are today: that Sarnia is already paying its share (as the largest municipality in the County) of costs related to the AMO membership.
Also cited at the time was the unwillingness of AMO to advocate on some issues relevant to Sarnia, including racetrack slots, OPP policing and court security costs, according to Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley.
Nothing since then has changed.
Gillis, on the other hand, has cited the challenges of representing Sarnia’s interests at AMO events without it being a distinctive member in its own right.
“It’s difficult for us to represent the City when we’re there on the County dime,” Gillis, who is also a director for the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.
This issue needs to be put to bed with a resounding “no.”