On December 10, Mayor Andy Letham was invited to meet one-on-one with Premier Doug Ford at Queen’s Park. The meeting was one of seven held with mayors of municipalities across Ontario including Mississauga, London and Guelph.
Among the themes discussed, according to a City press release, were common goals of providing efficient and effective services. The premier recognized Kawartha Lakes’ early adoption of a restructured, streamlined council size. He also expressed approval for the municipality’s long-term financial planning and ability to tackle sizable infrastructure deficits. They discussed how Kawartha Lakes is taking proactive steps to ensure sustainability of the services and amenities its residents value most, as uncovered in core service reviews.
Letham remarked on the meeting, “We had a great conversation about many things that are pressing for us today. The premier is supportive of the direction we’re moving in Kawartha Lakes. I shared with him some of the specific needs we have as a rural municipality and was pleased with his commitment to assist.”
The mayor discussed the need to expedite the planned provincial investment to stimulate local growth and development, namely through the widening of Highways 7 and 35 south of Lindsay and continued funding of the successful Small Business Entrepreneurship Centre.
“Premier Ford was quick to respond to requests for how the province can help us. We are both working to accelerate growth, development and job creation. We discussed how we can work together to shorten timelines to make a difference sooner for our community.”
Ford and Letham touched on the multiple levels of government investment in major infrastructure such as the Eastern Ontario Regional Network (EORN) broadband and cellular investments as well as natural gas expansion into rural Ontario.
Other themes discussed including working with the province to construct new long-term care beds in Kawartha Lakes while repurposing the existing Victoria Manor long-term care facility to deliver health care services. The premier and Letham also discussed the province assisting municipalities to recruit and retain doctors in rural communities such as Kawartha Lakes.
“When it comes to Ontarians’ day-to-day lives, municipalities make the most direct impact,” said Ford. “I had some great conversations with Ontario mayors about how to tackle the issues that people face every day. We’re committed to working for the people and respecting the taxpayer.”
A follow up meeting was suggested by the premier to ensure the actions discussed move forward in a mutually acceptable timeline.