THUNDER BAY – The City of Thunder Bay remains focused on gaining funding for a proposed Event Centre. The funding is listed as a key priority for the city according to a statement issued by the COTB.
A delegation including Mayor Keith Hobbs, Intergovernmental Affairs Committee Chair and Vice Chair Councillors Joe Virdiramo and Brian McKinnon, along with Councillor Iain Angus and City Manager Norm Gale brought Thunder Bay’s key issues to the Ontario Good Roads Association (OGRA)/Rural Ontario Municipal Association (ROMA) Combined Conference in Toronto on Feb. 21 – 24.
“Thunder Bay had important facetime during several significant meetings with provincial ministers this week,” said Councillor Joe Virdiramo. “We were well prepared and fought for Thunder Bay’s key priorities which we expect will help garner positive support where needed.”
The Delegation secured meetings with more than 15 Ministers along with presentations to New Democratic Leader MPP Andrea Horwath and Progressive Conservative MPP Ernie Hardeman, Chair of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts. Key priorities Thunder Bay lobbied for included:
- Proposed Thunder Bay Event & Convention Centre funding confirmation
- Climate change funding for resilient infrastructure
- Long Term Care Homes funding extension
- Mobile Crisis Response Unit support
- Non-Urgent Medical Transportation reform
- Ontario Disaster Relief Program funding
- Homelessness action
- Shelter House and ongoing commitment to Managed Alcohol Program
- Immigration challenges and program reform
- Thunder Bay District Jail facility upgrades
- Update on the Mining Readiness Strategy
Hopeful for Event Centre Funding Confirmation
“Infrastructure funding and the new program around it was a hot topic throughout,” added Westfort Councillor Virdiramo. “The proposed Thunder Bay Event & Convention Centre remains the City’ number one infrastructure project, along with roads and sewer work. We had positive discussions and provided an update on this critical piece of shovel-ready infrastructure. We remain hopeful for funding confirmation.”
The conference themed ‘Municipal Government: The Value Proposition’ included sessions on A Fully Accessible Ontario, Establishing Asset Management Priorities, Building Cycling Friendly Communities, Municipal Property Assessment and Taxation, Aging Infrastructure and Extreme Weather to name just a few. The Thunder Bay delegation took part in workshops related to all.
The OGRA/ROMA Combined Conference has become one of the largest municipal conferences in Canada, attracting over 2,200 municipal leaders from across Canada. The conference provides the opportunity for Municipalities to meet directly with Ontario Ministries on community specific issues.
Conference sessions included keynote addresses from Premier Kathleen Wynne, Hon. Ted McMeekin, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Hon. Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport Canada, Hon. Steven Del Duca, Minister of Transportation, Hon. Jeff Leal, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Hon. Brad Duguid, Minister of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure, Barbara Finlay, Acting Ontario Ombudsman, Gary McNamara, AMO President and Frank Graves, President of EKOS Research.
“We took every opportunity to make Thunder Bay’s issues and priorities front and centre with key Ministries while at ROMA/OGRA,” said Councillor Brian McKinnon. “Our meetings were productive and positive which we feel will be important to building the partnerships needed to advance the City.”