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County delegation pleased with meetings with provincial ministers

In a meeting with Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney, the County delegation asked the ministry to work with the municipality to develop solutions aimed at improving traffic flow and pedestrian safety at the Picton town hill.

Mayor Steve Ferguson is pleased with efforts by the County delegation to advance municipal interests at the 2020 Rural Ontario Municipal Association (ROMA) conference this week.

“I was encouraged by the receptiveness of the ministers we met. I believe they clearly understood the issues that we raised and, in general, pledged to assist where they can to address our concerns,” said Ferguson.

The County delegation met with Steve Clark, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, to request the minister modify the eligibility for the Disaster Recovery Assistance for Ontarians (DRAO) program so that small, owner-operated businesses impacted by flooding in the County could receive financial assistance.

“Minister Clark said the ministry regularly revisits the program after a disaster and would consider the program in light of the County’s feedback.”

In a meeting with transportation minister Caroline Mulroney, the County asked to develop solutions aimed at improving traffic flow and pedestrian safety at the Picton town hill.

“The minister committed to send ministry technical staff to the County in the next couple of weeks and begin discussions with municipal staff on improving the intersection,” said Ferguson. “The minister was also willing to arrange a future meeting to talk about our broader road issues, such as County Road 49.”

The County also met with Education Minister Stephen Lecce to discuss the municipality’s desire to acquire the Queen Elizabeth School property and redevelop it to support affordable housing.

Ferguson stated minister Lecce and his staff committed to work with all the parties involved – the public and Catholic school boards, the County, and ministry staff – to explore all options for a solution.

In her remarks to more than 1,000 conference participants, health minister Christine Elliott specifically mentioned the provincial government’s support for the redevelopment of Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital as an example of important investments in rural communities.

“I spoke to minister Elliott after her speech and expressed my appreciation for her comment about the hospital redevelopment,” said Ferguson. “I also stated how much we look forward to her announcement of getting to Stage 3, and she reconfirmed her commitment to the project.”

The mayor also participated in the multi-ministers delegations as a member of the Eastern Ontario Wardens’ Caucus and the Eastern Ontario Mayors Caucus. Topics discussed included flooding, public health and paramedic services, broadband, affordable housing, childcare, long-term care and joint and several liability.

Other conference highlights included a commitment by the premier and cabinet to consult with municipal governments, with Premier Doug Ford promising “no surprises” in the upcoming provincial budget.

Minister of Finance Rod Phillips confirmed 2021 funding of $500 million for the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund – critically important to municipalities that rely on it to make ends meet.

Conference delegates participated in an open question and answer session with provincial ministers.

Popular topics included support for rural economic development, infrastructure funding, and climate change.

During that session, Mayor Ferguson asked Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry John Yakubuski to describe the practical, specific steps the provincial government is taking to help municipalities, residents and businesses who are likely to be impacted by flooding yet again in spring 2020.

The minister stated “conversations are ongoing. Governments have to agree on the cause, so that we can create solutions.”

Sessions were also held on expanding housing options, asset management, sustainable economic development, and rural public health and paramedics.

Conference presentations from a number of key speakers will be posted on ROMA’s website at www.roma.on.ca.

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