Meeting Highlights from July 23, 2014.
WOWC implements standing committees to enhance engagement opportunities
The new WOWC standing committee structure was recognized as a means of enhancing member engagement, and providing opportunity for greater examination by the membership on matters of particular significance.
The Economic Development Committee (Brant, Dufferin, Chatham-Kent, Essex, Huron, Middlesex, Oxford, Simcoe) elected Mayor Randy Hope, of Chatham Kent as Standing Committee Chair, and discussed: OPP Costs and Funding Impacts, Revenue Tools Available to Municipalities, and Rural Transportation.
The Issues Management Committee (Bruce, Elgin, Grey, Lambton, Norfolk, Perth, Wellington) elected Warden Robert Wilhelm, of Perth County as Standing Committee Chair, and discussed: The Rural Voice of the Province, Paramedicine, and Bill 179 Accountability Act.
As a result of these deliberations the Caucus passed motions regarding WOWC concerns with Bill 179, and AMO engagement levels with rural municipalities.
WOWC supports efforts of OFA for stable road and bridge maintenance funding
The Ontario Federation of Agriculture provided an overview of the Connecting Links program, which applied to roadway and bridges that pass through municipalities, under which municipalities held responsibility for 10 per cent of repair costs. The program was discontinued in 2013, and full costs have been downloaded onto municipalities. Despite municipalities now having responsibility for costs, management of these roadways remains with the Province. WOWC passed a motion in support of the resolution passed by the OFA on June 16, 2014, which read: “NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Ontario Federation of Agriculture lobby the provincial government to reinstate more adequate funding to more fairly fund connecting links Roads and Bridges in rural Ontario.”
Special guests MP Kellie Leitch and MPP Jim Wilson bring greetings to WOWC
Warden Cal Patterson, of Simcoe County took an opportunity to introduce two special unscheduled guests: MP Kellie Leitch, Member of Parliament for Simcoe-Grey, Minister of Labour, and Minister responsible for Status of Women; and MPP Jim Wilson, Minister of Provincial Parliament for Simcoe-Grey and House Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition.
Minister Leitch noted that she had lost cell service three times while in the area, and reassured of the commitment of her government to substantive investment in its digital strategy, which includes a goal of bringing broadband to 95 per cent of the population. She highlighted that the creation of 1.1 million jobs is the priority for the Federal government. Minister Leitch also commented on the exceptionality of Cal Patterson and Duncan McKinlay as Wardens and Councillors to their respective areas.
Minister Wilson then highlighted the role of President of the Treasury Board, held by Deb Mathews as key to the WOWC efforts, noting that he himself is an interim leader. Minister Wilson then remarked on the great ancestry of the McKinlay family in Grey County and that Duncan McKinlay was upholding it well.
WOWC approves SWIFT recommendations for engaging municipal partners and SILECS
The Caucus endorsed recommendations from the SWIFT Network Project Steering Committee to: continue with its project work plan as previously adopted by the WOWC; and with its efforts to engage with the SILECs and the ITPA to explore issues and potential solutions as it proceeds to execute its work plan; and also to develop an outreach initiative to non-WOWC member municipalities within the SWIFT study area.
A Third-party Peer Review of SWIFT Network Project by Catherine Middleton, dated July 18, 2014, was referred to the SWIFT Steering Committee for consideration. And a motion was passed to hold a SWIFT workshop at the upcoming AMO conference, to include a presentation, panel discussion.
In addition, SWIFT has launched a new virtual presence, including a new website, swiftnetwork.ca, and SWIFT can also now be found on Twitter at @networkswift and on Facebook as “SWIFT Network”.
SWIFT has also begun working with 30 Community Engagement Coordinators across Southwestern Ontario, hired by the Southwest Economic Alliance to complete a benchmarking process as part of SWEA’s Intelligent Region Initiative. The Community Engagement Coordinators will be collecting feedback about Internet service throughout the region through interviews, events and a survey. To complete the SWIFT survey, please visit http://swiftnetwork.ca/2014/07/22/swift-network-survey/ or to sign up for the SWIFT newsletter, please link to http://swiftnetwork.ca/