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York Region grapples with 4-year budget process
Jan. 22, 2015
By Lisa Queen

As York Region councillors launch their first-ever four-year budgeting process today, it’s interesting to note the region is providing services to more residents than many provinces, the chairperson of the finance committee said.
The region is home to 1.11 million residents, the same number who live in the province of Saskatchewan, said Richmond Hill Mayor Dave Barrow, pointing to a report presented by regional treasurer Bill Hughes at a committee meeting last week.

York’s population is only slightly less than the province of Manitoba, which has 1.27 million residents.

Only Ontario with 13.56 million residents, Quebec with 8.15 million, British Columbia with 4.58 million and Alberta with 4.01 million have populations significantly larger than York, while Nova Scotia with 940,000 residents, New Brunswick with760,000, Newfoundland with 530,000, Prince Edward Island with 150,000, Northwest Territories with 43,600, Yukon with 36,400 and Nunavut with 35,400 have fewer residents.

York is Ontario’s third largest municipality, behind Toronto with 2.77 million residents and Peel Region with 1.39 million.

Ottawa is fourth with 930,000 residents, followed by Durham Region with 650,000, Hamilton with 550,000, Halton Region with 540,000, Waterloo Region with 530,000 and Simcoe County with 470,000.

York councillors will get their first look at this year’s financial numbers at a presentation of the region’s draft budget today.

For the first time, the region is launching a multi-year budgeting process that will see a concrete financial blueprint of about $3 billion set for this year, with an accompanying three-year financial forecast, Barrow said.

“This is the first year, I believe, that we’re actually presenting it as a four-year budget,” he said.

“It’s a better way of seeing the impact of the decisions you are making today on future years.”

Trying to rein in the region’s $2-billion debt is not the reason behind the new multi-year budget, Barrow said.

He hasn’t yet seen any details of the draft budget, including any proposed tax increase.