The Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark visited Bracebridge to speak about how important it is that municipalities work to modernize the services they give. 

Last month, $1.4 million was allocated to Parry Sound-Muskoka to help with municipal modernization projects. That includes:

  • The Township of Muskoka Lakes’ information technology master plan
  • A human services programs review for the District of Muskoka
  • Town of Parry Sound’s geographic information systems study
  • Town of Bracebridge electronic building and planning applications review
  • A modernization and digital systems transformation for Georgian Bay Township
  • Town of Gravenhurst building permit applications e-solutions modernization
  • A joint fire protection services review for the Towns of Lake of Bays and Huntsville

Six other municipalities will get a piece of the funding to help with a modernization project.

“Investment in municipal modernization is critical,” Bracebridge Mayor Graydon Smith said Wednesday. He added that municipalities like Bracebridge and Gravenhurst are seeing “unprecedented levels” of demand for services. Speaking specifically about the electronic building and applications review system that will soon be in place, Smith said it will streamline the review process by cutting down the time staff spend going through paperwork.

Clark said he credits councils like the ones in Bracebridge and Gravenhurst for “answering the call” made by Premier Doug Ford. “Our government under Premier Ford has made money available under the municipal modernization program for our municipal partners to modernize service delivery,” he boasted.

“The global pandemic shone a light on the need to modernize the way services are delivered by government, by businesses and, really, in all aspects of our lives,” Parry-Sound Muskoka MPP Norm Miller said.

Gravenhurst’s Mayor Paul Kelly called the electronic permit software a “game-changer” for Gravenhurst. He echoed what Smith said about how staff will be able to move forward with prospective projects a lot quicker now that they have less paperwork to go through. He pointed out that one “silver lining” from the COVID-19 pandemic has been that the housing market has been on the rise. Kelly said that in some cases, homes are being sold just 24 hours after being listed. “So, you can imagine the impact on our building and planning department has been huge,” he added.

This is the second round of municipal modernization funding handed out by the province. The first batch of funding was dished out in 2019 to 405 municipalities in Ontario, including 26 in Parry Sound-Muskoka.