Looking out for Uxbridge’s 58 per cent

One of the five members returning to Uxbridge council after Monday’s municipal election will have a new job. Bruce Garrod, representing Ward 3 in the last term, will replace Gordon Highet as regional councillor, joining Mayor Dave Barton as Uxbridge’s representatives on Durham Region council in Whitby.

Durham Region is the upper tier municipal government that undertakes a number of services on behalf of its eight member municipalities, including policing and paramedical services, transit, sewer and water, and many others. This township contributes to the Region’s $2 billion budget through water bills, and through property taxes. This year, 58 per cent of residential property taxes were forwarded to Whitby, and 43 per cent of commercial and industrial taxes, a total of $31.6 million altogether.

“It’s a huge investment,” says Garrod, “and the job of myself and the mayor is to ensure our taxes are well spent.”

Garrod, head of Uxbridge council’s finance committee for the last four years, is experienced at overseeing tax dollars. In his non-political life, he is a consultant in project management; that experience has also proved valuable in municipal government. Although he will continue to teach for a couple of weeks per year, being a member of two busy municipal councils will be his full-rime job (that will be somewhat compensated for by the fact that the Region pays its council members about twice what the Township does).

Last term, Garrod was Uxbridge’s alternate to regional council, but Barton and Highet seldom took a meeting off, so Garrod will have to learn the ropes quickly. But he thinks there are at least a couple of areas where the Region could improve its program delivery here in Uxbridge.

“The police service definitely needs to have a higher visibility in the township,” he says, “particularly in traffic enforcement. And on the social services side, there are an increasing number of people falling through the cracks. I think the Region very much wants to help, but we all need to work harder at finding solutions.”

Garrod also wants to improve communication with Uxbridgians about Regional services and programs. “In my conversations during this campaign, it was clear that a lot of us don’t really understand what the Region does, and how it works. That’s unacceptable when it spends so much of our money. So I’m going to try any way I can to make sure taxpayers are better informed.”

Conrad Boyce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Uxbridge Cosmos