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Energy and economy among Eastern Ontario priorities for 2016

EOWC-QuaiffMayor Robert Quaiff and CAO James Hepburn were among representatives of 13 County and single-tier municipalities comprising the Eastern Ontario Wardens’ Caucus meeting Friday, in Kingston.

“We’ve selected our priorities for 2016,” said Quaiff, noting they were common across the board. “They include energy costs – natural gas to rural areas, hydro that’s affordable and reliable; policing costs; cell gap coverage for Eastern Ontario and an economic strategy plan; leadership and a growth plan for eastern Ontario.

While in Kingston, Quaiff also attended the Eastern Ontario Mayors’ Caucus at Kingston City Hall.

The 13 members of the Eastern Ontario Wardens’ Caucus work on issues to advocate for their 700,000 residents and speak with one voice, to help ensure views are heard and considered by federal and provincial policy makers, business leaders, the media, and the public.

Further details on the priorities, from the EOWC:

1. Convincing the Province, Hydro One and the major natural gas providers to urgently invest in the region’s hydroelectricity and natural gas transmission systems, to provide major industrial and commercial customers with affordable expansion opportunities and greater relief in operational costs. This will allow for the creation of new jobs as well as safeguarding many others that are presently at risk, due to the lack of availability and exorbitant costs.

2. Working in tandem with the Eastern Ontario Regional Network to close the cellular network and mobile broadband gaps that exist in many rural Eastern Ontario communities. This is an essential service that has become indispensable for economic development, emergency services and home-based businesses.

3. Continuing research and advocacy on the Province’s consideration for “growth planning for eastern Ontario.” The EOWC has concerns on any proposal that would limit growth and economic development opportunities in rural Eastern Ontario, particularly as numerous development controls already exist in the region and most townships bordering the City of Ottawa experience little growth.

4. Supporting the Leadership Council as it begins the implementation of key actions proposed in the Eastern Ontario Economic Development Strategy. This council, formed in September 2015, is a financial partnership between the EOWC, the Eastern Ontario Mayors’ Committee, the Eastern Ontario Regional Network, and the Ontario East Economic Development Commission.

5. Advocating at the provincial level for an across-the-board decrease in Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) costs, namely by eliminating inefficiencies in service delivery, finding cost savings through the modernization of policing services, and using available technology to gather evidence for court and defence procedures.

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