Tight financial times often prompt municipalities to explore ways to reduce costs and realize efficiencies. Service reviews have become a popular means of such exploration. A service review is a systematic process in which a municipality examines the services it provides, with an aim to answer some difficult questions: do we need to provide this service?
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In Ontario, water shortage events are occurring in some watersheds with increased frequency. These events are a significant concern in sub-watersheds where the land base is largely comprised of irrigation dependent agriculture. A detailed watershed scaled drought management plan needs to be robust and scientifically defensible. It also needs to be realistic, practical, and locally owned and endorsed. Accordingly, some vulnerable watersheds have undertaken various initiatives towards developing such a plan. As an example, the Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority (NVCA) has leveraged several projects and initiatives to help ensure that the stakeholders of the Innisfil Creek sub-watershed are adequately prepared for future adverse low water and drought conditions. Like many watersheds across Canada, the Innisfil Creek sub-watershed faces most of the water stressors described above.
Cities are important drivers of productivity, innovation, and economic growth. To achieve their full economic potential, they need to provide a wide range of services – "hard" services such as water, transit, and roads, but also "soft" services such as cultural facilities, parks, and libraries that will attract knowledge workers. Cities that fail to provide these services will lose their economic advantage. The challenge cities face is to raise enough revenue to deliver high quality public services that will attract residents and businesses in a way that does not undermine the city's competitive advantage.