Picton, ON – Mayor Steve Ferguson discussed local issues with several provincial ministers as part of the recent Rural Ontario Municipal Association (ROMA) conference held January 23-25.
“The recent virtual meetings allowed us to continue pressing for action in some areas we have discussed at previous conferences, as well as raise new issues that have emerged recently,” Mayor Steve Ferguson says.
The County met with Caroline Mulroney, the Minister of Transportation (MTO), to reiterate the request for a roundabout to be installed at the intersection of Highway 62 and County Road 1. As a result of County lobbying efforts, Minister Mulroney has now directed MTO staff to start an environmental assessment, which will involve the installation of cameras prior to the summer season to collect driver behaviour, as well as public consultation on engineering options. The County is hopeful the EA process will be expedited due to the work and research already completed by the municipality and the local detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police.
In a meeting with Long-Term Care Minister Paul Calandra, the County shared the financial challenges of moving forward with building a new and larger facility. Specifically, the County requested that the provincial government consider up-front, interest-free financing for the debt-funded portion of the project and that the debt financing not impact the municipality’s Annual Repayment Limit. Minister Calandra, who is new to the role having taken over from Minister Rod Phillips, committed to a follow-up meeting with the County once he has a more detailed briefing from his staff on the request.
Mayor Ferguson also had the opportunity to meet with David Piccini, the Minister of Environment, Parks and Recreation, and provide feedback on the new park daily use registration system operating at Sandbanks and North Beach provincial parks in 2021. The County asked for flexibility for resident access outside the registration system late in the day when the parks are not full and expanding the season at North Beach to facilitate access to the parking for those walking along the beach. Minister Piccini indicated a strong willingness to explore ways to improve access by residents to the two parks for the 2022 season, and follow up discussions will take place with senior Ministry staff.
The final delegation involved a discussion of funding opportunities for County Road 49 with Kinga Surma, the Minister of Infrastructure. Minister Surma applauded The County’s work done to date on asset management and the studies to be ready on this project, but was candid about the lack of funds available to apply for at the end of the federal-provincial funding arrangement. Mayor Ferguson committed to support the provincial efforts to lobby the federal government for more infrastructure funding focused on core assets like roads.
Mayor Ferguson also participated in the multi-ministers delegation meeting as a member of the Eastern Ontario Wardens’ Caucus (EOWC). Topics discussed included affordable/attainable housing, long-term care, and municipalities’ role in Ontario Health Teams.
ROMA is the most representative and effective voice for Ontario’s rural municipal governments. About 270 of Ontario’s 444 municipalities have populations of less than 10,000, while scores more are rural in character. Working closely with the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, ROMA advocates for policies and programs that will help build thriving rural Ontario communities. Learn more about ROMA.
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