Team Thunder Bay Returns from Rural Ontario Municipal Association

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Westfort Councillor Virdiramo
Westfort Councillor Joe Virdiramo
Thunder Bay City Hall
Thunder Bay City Hall

THUNDER BAY – POLITICS – “This year’s conference was an important and positive mission for Thunder Bay,” said Joe Virdiramo, Chair – Intergovernmental Affairs Committee. “We were very well prepared and directly presented Thunder Bay’s priorities to many Ministers which we expect will contribute to moving the City’s priorities forward.”

A Thunder Bay delegation including Mayor Keith Hobbs, Intergovernmental Affairs Committee leaders Councillors Joe Virdiramo and Brian McKinnon and City Manager Tim Commisso brought the City’s key issues to the Rural Ontario Municipal Association (ROMA) Conference/Ontario Good Roads Association (OGRA) in Toronto on Feb. 22 – 25.

The Delegation secured 10 Ministry meetings along with presentations to New Democratic Leader MPP Andrea Horwath and Progressive Conservative MPP Ernie Hardeman. Key priorities Thunder Bay lobbied for included:

  • Thunder Bay Event & Convention Centre
  • Mining
  • Energy
  • MPAC
  • Shelter House
  • Balmoral Centre – Crisis Management Beds
  • Home Transition – D-Listed Homes
  • EMS Non Urgent Transportation
  • Homelessness
  • Comprehensive Cardiovascular Care
  • Poverty Reduction Strategy
Westfort Councillor Virdiramo
Westfort Councillor Joe Virdiramo

“The update on Phase 4 of the Event Centre was well-received and the Ministers recognized the due diligence done to apply for funding with a shovel-ready plan,” said Virdiramo. “We of course requested the Province confirm funding by the March 31 deadline.”

Councillor Iain Angus joined the delegation for a meeting with the Minister of Energy and also attended the Northern Ontario Municipal Association session with Provincial Ministers.

“The issue of energy and industrial property assessment and many issues with MPAC were dealt with in a frank and direct manner, and Thunder Bay was joined by the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association in speaking our mind on a number of serious concerns,” said Councillor Iain Angus.

The conference themed ‘Rebooting Ontario’s Municipal Sector’ included sessions on Enough Talk: The Case for Permitting New Municipal Revenue Tools, Risky Business: The Need for Municipal Liability Reform and, and Challenges in Asset Management to name just a few. The Thunder Bay delegation took part in workshops related to all.

The OGRA/ROMA Conference has become one of the largest municipal conferences in Canada, attracting over 1,500 delegates and more than 2,300 participants in total. The Premier of Ontario and key Ministers were in attendance. 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, Interim Progressive Conservative Leader MPP Jim Wilson, Hon. Ted McMeekin, Minister – Municipal Affairs and Housing, Hon. Lisa Raitt, Minister – Transport Canada, Boris Martin, CEO, Engineers Without Borders and Gary McNamara, President – Association of Municipalities of Ontario.

“We took every opportunity to make Thunder Bay’s issues and priorities front and centre with key Ministries while at OGRA,” said Councillor Brian McKinnon, Vice Chair – Intergovernmental Affairs Committee. “We certainly had very positive and informative discussions that we feel will be important to building the partnerships needed to advance the City.”

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