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AMO 2019: Trio of Ontario municipalities receive innovation award

by Municipal World
in Innovation, Leadership

Named after one of the province’s most innovative municipal finance commissioners, the Peter J. Marshall Innovation Award recognizes Ontario municipalities that can point to tangible outcomes from new, more cost-effective ways of providing public services.

Created by the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO), the award recognizes those municipal governments demonstrating excellence in the use of innovative approaches to improve capital and/or operating efficiency, and to generate effectiveness through alternative service delivery initiatives and partnerships.

There is no lack of projects as municipal governments are always working on efficiencies. Every year, the jury sees municipal creativity in projects that make a difference.

The Mayor by George B. Cuff

This year, there are three municipal governments being recognized with the Peter J. Marshall award: the Region of York, the Municipality of Grey Highlands, and the City of Markham.

City of Markham: Markham Tackles Textiles

Markham is receiving the award for its textile recycling program. The initiative is aimed at reducing the number of textiles going to landfill and the unregulated “used clothing” bins.

The recognition stems from the fact Canadian consumers produce 60 to 88 pounds (approximately 27 to 40 kilograms) of textile waste a year. Some 85 percent of that amount is thrown away. In York Region, it amounts to seven percent of the waste stream.

Markham partnered with registered charities to rebrand donation containers placed across the city at both public and private locations.

Since the project was launched in late 2016, more than 15 million pounds (about 6.8 million kilograms) of unwanted textiles has been diverted to reuse and recycling activities – and in the hands of legitimate charities.

Leveraging community partnerships with local registered charities sees the charities serving and maintaining the Markham donation bins. Proceeds from the textile donations stay with the charity and actively support local employment and community services.

Municipality of Grey Highlands: App it up! Connecting with Grey Highlands!

Next up, Grey Highlands – like many other communities – saw the value of the internet and online services. With that in mind, the municipality launched an app that is proving to be an effective tool. The app allows residents to report potholes, undertake online purchasing of services, and receive emergency information.

Perhaps more importantly, development of the app demonstrated problem solving in a community where there is a small budget and limited staff resources, but an abundant “can do” spirit. All of this is topped off with a move to take a third-party website that allowed the municipality to have control over development, design, updating, and maintenance of the app.

Updating forms on its website meant they were more user/mobile/app friendly.

Region of York: Court Remote Testimony

Finally, the Region of York, created a system that can correct an issue many municipalities struggle with. Whenever a provincial offence ticket goes to trial, the issuing officer must attend to testify; otherwise, and if not, the case may be dismissed, and revenue lost. The cost in both time and money to have an officer travel from their district to a court can be quite high.

The region’s IT services branch was asked by its Court Services and York Regional Police, to look at using internet and video technology to offer remote testimony. After evaluation work, the province’s justice video network (JVN) was identified as the best solution.

Service delivery will continue to improve as more police districts add JVN technology, possibly to police vehicles. It also means court scheduling capacity will grow.

York Region’s work is making it easier for other Ontario municipalities to adopt the initiative. The JVN is changing its business model to accommodate requirements of municipal courts. Other law enforcement organizations, including the OPP, are considering becoming adopters.

Praising Award-Winning Team Effort

While presenting the awards, AMO Executive Director Pat Vanini praised not only the efforts of the honourees, but those of the judges who help bring these community innovations to light.

“AMO members are always innovating – always bringing value to citizens and their business community,” Vanini said. “Every year the jury for this award is faced with a tough decision based on all the submissions. I want to thank the jury for its deliberations and enthusiasm for the work.  MW

✯ Municipal World Insider and Executive Members: You might also be interested in the article: 2018 Peter J. Marshall Awards: City of Vaughan and Town of Innisfil recognized for innovative initiatives or in Rob Adams’ article: Local innovation inspires app for Grey Highlands. Note that you can now access the complete collection of past articles (and more) from your membership dashboard.

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