Mayor Andy Letham and Ron Taylor, CAO, joined more than 1,000 rural municipal officials from across the province at the 2019 Rural Ontario Municipal Association (ROMA) Conference in Toronto from January 27 to 29.
Coming six months after the change in provincial government, the conference focused on the pressing challenges and emerging opportunities facing rural communities in Ontario. It was an opportunity for Kawartha Lakes to bring to the forefront the key issues facing our municipality.
Letham expressed his thoughts on the conference by stating, “The provincial government is very open to new ideas and truly seems to understand that one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to rural Ontario. I’m encouraged to see strong partnerships being developed to support rural municipalities. The commitment and leadership of our local MPP, Honorable Laurie Scott, has been instrumental in forging these partnerships and opening doors.”
In addition to the conference program, the City of Kawartha Lakes initiated several meetings with provincial Ministers to discuss some local priorities including:
Honourable Jeff Yurek, Minister of Transportation – Supporting growth
The Ministry committed to updating the City respecting future planned long-term improvements to Highway 35 throughout the City, and working with the City to coordinate Highway 35 improvements between Colborne Street and Thunderbridge Road to support major planned growth and development in that area of Lindsay.
Honourable Bill Walker, Minister of Government and Consumer Services – Reducing red tape for re-purposing land and buildings
The Ministry received the City’s delegation recommending changes to regulations for land and building disposal, sale, and utilization. They committed to working with the City to look at options to retain existing medical practitioners in publicly owned spaces in our rural communities.
Honourable Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing – Growth Plan policy changes
Kawartha Lakes participated in a joint delegation with Peterborough County and Northumberland County reiterating our support for the proposed changes to the Growth Plan as it affects slow and low growth municipalities in the Greater Golden Horseshoe.
“Minister Clark has been very responsive to the recommendations we made in August. We were pleased to see that many of our requested changes to help Kawartha Lakes move forward with the right type of development for our community were included in the draft,” commented Letham.
As Chair of the Eastern Ontario Wardens Caucus (EOWC), Letham led a multi-ministerial panel discussion that focused primarily on the EOWC’s number one priority for 2019, which is funding for the Eastern Ontario Regional Network (EORN) cellular network and mobile broadband improvement project. See www.eorn.ca for more details on the project.
Letham was also invited to a roundtable discussion with other select Mayors and leaders, hosted by the Honourable Bernadette Jordan, Federal Minister of Rural Economic Development, to discuss rural economic development interests. Mayor Letham used this opportunity to reiterate the importance of the Federal Government’s support for cellular and broadband coverage and capacity improvements to rural Ontario businesses and residents.
Conference news releases, fact sheets and presentations from a number of key speakers are be posted on ROMA’s website at www.roma.on.ca.
ROMA promotes, supports and enhances strong and effective rural governments. About 270 of Ontario’s 444 municipalities have populations of less than 10,000, while scores more are rural in character. The rural arm of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, ROMA advocates for policies and programs that will help build thriving rural Ontario communities.
Follow the conference on Twitter: @ROMA_Ont, Hashtag: #RuralMatters