Eastern Ontario Wardens’ Caucus advocates for cellular network, economic development

By Roderick Benns

The Eastern Ontario Wardens’ Caucus (EOWC) was recently held in Toronto, during the 2018 Rural Ontario Municipal Association (ROMA) conference.

The EOWC emphasized the importance of the Province’s partnership in helping achieve and implement the two most important projects for rural Eastern Ontario – building a major cellular and public safety broadband network and implementing the Eastern Ontario Economic Development Strategy.

“Over the last three days, the EOWC made its voice heard – loud and clear – and our message was straightforward and united — let’s work together to make Eastern Ontario an even greater place to live and work, and a model for all of Ontario,” says City of Kawartha Lakes Mayor Andy Letham.

Eastern Ontario Wardens’ Caucus advocates for cellular network, economic development
City of Kawartha Lakes Mayor Andy Letham.

Led by 2018 Chair, Robin Jones and Vice-Chair, Jennifer Murphy, the 13-member EOWC met with Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, various cabinet ministers, the Ontario PC Party and the Ontario NDP Party.

The EORN Cellular and Public Safety Broadband Network is a $299 million project funded by all three levels of government as well as the private sector, to close the many cellular network gaps in the region, boost mobile broadband service, and increase public safety for residents and first responders during emergencies. The City of Kawartha Lakes endorsed the EORN cellular project in 2017 and agreed to invest a proportionate municipal contribution as the project progresses.

The Eastern Ontario Economic Development Strategy is a regional economic plan across the Province that would address Eastern Ontario’s future economic development and growth needs, including workforce development and deployment, technology integration and innovation, and integrated, intelligent transportation. This strategy is in alignment with elements of Kawartha Lakes’ Economic Development Strategy.

The EOWC membership provided the business case and extolled the benefits of both projects – including the economic benefits – during meetings with several key members of provincial government including Premier Kathleen Wynne.

“The EOWC understands the importance of working together with the Province during this critical election year. For that reason, the EOWC has kept its focus simple and identified the two most important projects for Eastern Ontario – and our members were informed, organized, cohesive, collaborative and professional in each and every one of these important meetings,” says Chair Robin Jones.

Mayor Letham and Ron Taylor, CAO, met with the new Minister of Transportation, Kathryn McGarry, to discuss existing restrictive development standards for buildings fronting provincial highways. The intent is to protect for possible future highway widening and possible local solutions and exemptions to encourage redevelopment and building repairs.

The City participated in a panel discussion on water quality and the importance of private septic system maintenance, rehabilitation and repair. Kawartha Lakes is the only active municipality in the province offering a septic rehabilitation loan program to assist landowners in rehabilitating these systems in order to protect our environment.

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