Wedding in Durham RegionThe Regional Municipality of Durham, informally referred to as Durham Region, is a regional municipality located east of Toronto, Ontario. It has an area of approximately 2,500 square kilometers. Durham Region is considered part of the Greater Toronto Area, although Oshawa, Whitby and Clarington form the separate Oshawa Census Metropolitan Area. The regional government headquarters is in Whitby, but other facilities have their headquarters in other municipalities.
The Region of Durham was established in 1974 as one of several new regional governments in the Province of Ontario, primarily in fast-growing urban and suburban areas. Durham Region encompasses areas that were previously part of Ontario County and the United Counties of Northumberland and Durham. It was the culmination of a series of studies into municipal governance in the "Oshawa-Centred Region" that had begun in the late 1960s. The ultimate boundaries of the region were somewhat different than had been anticipated; for example, it was widely expected that Pickering would be annexed to Metropolitan Toronto, and that the region would extend further east to include Hope Township and the town of Port Hope.
The southern portion of the region, on Lake Ontario is primarily suburban in nature, forming the eastern end of the 905 belt of suburbs around Toronto. The northern area is comprised of rural areas and small towns. Durham Region contains one Indian reserve, the Mississaugas of Scugog Island.
Major employers include General Motors of Canada, Ontario Power Generation, Lakeridge Health System, Durham District School Board, Durham College, University of Ontario Institute of Technology, and many smaller component and transportation firms supplying the automotive industry.
Durham Region is a major centre of the Canadian automobile industry. Oshawa is the Canadian headquarters of General Motors and home of GM's largest plant in North America. In addition, the Canadian headquarters of both BMW and Volkswagen are located in the Region.
Durham Region is traversed by Highway 401 as well several other provincial highways, although there is far less highway capacity in Durham Region than in the other regions in the Greater Toronto Area. Recently, the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario has proposed accelerating the expansion of Highway 407 through Durham Region to Highways 35 and 115.
On August 22, 2006, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported that federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty was considering providing federal funding for the extension of Highway 407.
The Durham District School Board operates all public schools within Durham Region, except for those schools within Clarington, which are part of the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board. This is a holdover from the pre-1974 structure in which the area now forming Clarington was part of Durham County, while the other municipalities were part of Ontario County.
The Durham Catholic District School Board operates the separate Catholic school system within Durham Region, again with the exception of schools in Clarington, which are part of the Peterborough Victoria Northumberland and Clarington Catholic District School Board.
Neither school board is an operating division of the Regional government. Instead, as is true of all school boards in Ontario, they are separate entities with distinct but overlapped service areas. Elected public trustees responsible for their operation.