Local politicians bring rural issues to provincial ministers

File photo

File photo

Bullet News NORTH HURON – North Huron councillors urged provincial ministers to apply a rural lens to its decisions during a series of meetings at an annual conference this week.

The municipality’s Reeve Neil Vincent, along with Coun. Brock Vodden and CAO / Clerk Gary Long, met with ministers from municipal affairs and housing, rural affairs, economic development, trade and employment, and community safety during the joint Rural Ontario Municipal Association (ROMA) / Ontario Good Roads conference, Feb. 24 to 27, held at the Fairmont Royal York in Toronto. The conference highlight is the opportunity for municipal politicians to have a brief audience with ministers and senior staff to bring forward concerns from their communities.

“Our meetings went very well.  It’s an opportunity for us to profile our municipality, discuss current issues and priorities, identify possible partnership opportunities, and build relationships with key decision-makers at Queen’s Park, “ Vincent said.

Among issues brought forward by North Huron officials were: the Provincial Policy Statement, a guiding document on land use planning, needs to be more flexible to support residential, commercial, and industrial development projects in rural communities; the need for continued infrastructure funding for small municipalities; the need for program support and funding for community economic development initiatives; and developing the Emergency Services Training Centre in Blyth to become a Regional Training Centre for Emergency Management Ontario courses as well as delivering a provincially recognized Emergency Vehicle Operator Program.

Goderich’s mayor was expected to make a pitch for money to pay for 150 hydro poles and miles of lines destroyed in the 2011 tornado when he and a delegation from his town met with the minister of municipal affairs and housing and housing on Sunday.

Deb Shewfelt said he and a contingency from Goderich would ask the new minister, Linda Jeffrey, for funds to pay for damage to assets owned by Goderich Hydro that were not covered by insurance.

“We’re asking the province to take a hard look at helping us out,” he said. “We’re short a million and a half [dollars] and certainly we’d like all we could get if it’s at all possible.”

Goderich Hydro applied to the Ontario Energy Board for a rate increase to cover the extra cost, including upgrades while repairs were being made, but was turned down previously.

Central Huron officials were expected to discuss the province’s Provincial Policy Statement when they met with the minister of rural affairs.

Written by on February 26, 2013 in Communities, Politics - No comments

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