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County delegation at AMO ‘feeling encouraged’ about issues of concern

County delegation members at the AMO conference, from left, included councillor Bill Roberts and Janice Maynard, Mayor Steve Ferguson with Minister Kinga Surma, and MPP Todd Smith.

The future of Queen Elizabeth School, the shortage of health-care professionals and the rehabilitation of County Road 49 were again among issues raised by the County of Prince Edward delegation at the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) annual general meeting and conference this week in Ottawa.

Mayor Steve Ferguson noted that for the first time after many such meetings he was feeling encouraged about funding and on movement forward on the former Queen Elizabeth Public School in Picton and the County’s desperate need to secure that property for affordable housing in Picton.

Ferguson was accompanied by CAO Marcia Wallace, councillors Bill Roberts and Janice Maynard  and communications supervisor Mark Kerr.

“During these meetings we took the opportunity to share information and ideas for addressing issues of local concern,” said Ferguson. “I was encouraged by the conversations and am optimistic progress will be made on several fronts in the near future as a result of this dialogue.”

In the meeting with Matthew Rae, Parliamentary Assistant for the Minister of Education, the County reinforced the importance of having the former school used to support affordable housing development.

“We have been working with the province and other parties on the acquisition of the property on Barker Street for four years,” said Ferguson.

In a report to media Wednesday, it was indicated Rae and the Minister of Education were interested in finding a solution that works for the municipality, the Algonquin & Lakeshore Catholic District School Board and the Hastings Prince Edward District School Board.

In a meeting with Health Minister Sylvia Jones, Ferguson invited her to the region in the early fall for an in-depth meeting with the regional partners working together to address the shortage of medical professionals.

“Minister Jones expressed her appreciation for local efforts to find solutions together, rather than competing for scarce resources. She also emphasized the importance of working with hospitals as well as with her colleague, Minister of Long-Term Care Paul Calandra, to address labour shortage issues.” A formal invitation from the mayor will follow.

The County delegation again advocated for funding to rehabilitate County Road 49 in a meeting with Infrastructure Minister Kinga Surma. Ferguson said he was encouraged that funding would be coming to deal with the rehabilitation.

Municipal officials also met with Stephen Crawford, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Finance, to request flexibility in the tax classification to recognize the commercial nature of residential properties where short-term accommodations operate.

Ferguson also joined with other mayors and wardens from across Eastern Ontario for meetings with several Ontario government ministers.

The Eastern Ontario Wardens’ Caucus (EOWC) met with Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, to discuss the housing challenges across Eastern Ontario. Over the next few months the EOWC will be working with provincial staff to further develop a solution to the growing waitlist issues that people are experiencing across the region. EOWC is to provide an update to Minister Clark at the Rural Ontario Municipal Association conference in January 2023.

During the conference, the municipality received the Peter J. Marshall Innovation Award for its efforts to support new housing development in the municipality.

The AMO is a non-profit organization representing almost all of Ontario’s 444 municipal governments.

 

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