Column: February 4, 2019

My work for rural residents at ROMA – From January 27 to 29, I attended the Rural Ontario Municipal Association (ROMA) annual conference in Toronto. Over 1,000 delegates from municipalities all across the province attended this year’s conference. ROMA is considered the voice of rural Ontario. This annual conference brings together rural officials from across the province to raise priorities with the provincial government, and allows rural officials to press the three government parties for solutions on issues of priority in Ontario’s rural communities. I attended this year’s conference wearing three hats: as a ROMA Board member for Zone 8, as 2nd Vice Chair of the ROMA Board of Directors, and as Chair of Ottawa’s Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee. ROMA’s Board works year round to advance rural priorities and the conference allowed the Board to continue this work. Some of the rural issues I brought forward to provincial government officials at this year’s conference included:

- I spoke with provincial government officials regarding the issue of rural broadband. I made an official request that rural broadband in Ontario be considered an essential service. In response, provincial officials agreed with this and indicated they would continue to work with the Federal government to push this issue forward.

- I made an official request to the Province of Ontario for funding for natural gas in order to be able to be this service to rural communities (such as Dunrobin Shores and Fitzroy Harbour).

- I, along with Stephen Willis (the City’s General Manager of Planning, Infrastructure & Economic Development), met with Hon. Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs & Housing. We requested a reduction in the level of red tape surrounding communal service systems in relation to building adult living communities in rural areas. In rural areas, we want to be able to build adult living communities where seniors can stay living rurally while also helping to boost rural economic development that would come with building these communities. As it stands now, there are obstacles to building these communities because of well and septic ‘red tape,’ and which ends up stalling the development of adult living communities. In our discussion, Minister Clark committed to helping reduce the red tape and indicated that rural municipalities would have options to build.

- I also brought up with Hon. Steve Clark the ongoing issue of ambulance response times in rural communities, and the problematic issue of paramedics being held up at hospitals due the lengthy time it takes to transfer patients to the hospitals. Minister Clark indicated that the province is looking at this issue closely and will be trying to remedy this issue of ‘hallway medicine.’

Fitzroy Winter Carnival – Fitzroy’s annual Winter Carnival is happening this week from February 7 to 9 at the Fitzroy Harbour Community Centre. Lots of fun activities and events for the whole family. For more event information visit fitzroyharbour.wordpress.com. Dunrobin Winter Carnival – A winter carnival is happening in Dunrobin on Sunday, February 10 from 1pm to 4pm. There will be fun for everyone inside, outside and on the ice. The carnival takes place at the community centre, 1151 Thomas A. Dolan Pkwy. Go to dunrobincommunity.com for more details.

City of Ottawa Summer Hiring Campaign – The City’s 2019 Summer Student Employment Program is now open and will be accepting online applications until March 1. Students looking for a summer job with the City can go to ottawa.ca for details on the hiring process and to complete an online application. Good luck to all!