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PEC mayor joins Eastern Ontario reps in united bid for provincial help

Mayor Robert Quaiff

Mayor Robert Quaiff

Mayor Robert Quaiff was among members of the Eastern Ontario Wardens’ Caucus and Eastern Ontario Mayors’ Committee to bring challenges to the table during a face-to-face meeting with Premier Kathleen Wynne.

Wednesday’s meeting was held in Kingston as Wynne was addressing the chamber of commerce there.

“Some of the biggest challenges for rural, eastern Ontario have been developing for quite some time, and they are issues that require provincial attention,” said Quaiff. “By co-ordinating our advocacy efforts, our group of wardens and mayors hoped to really hammer home the fact that we need provincial support. To date, we have felt that some issues, like the availability of natural gas, the cost of hydro and the need for expanded financial support for asset management and infrastructure rehabilitation, have not received sufficient attention from the province, despite continuous appeals from our various municipalities.”

“This was an important opportunity (for the wardens and mayors) to speak directly and plainly to the premier about the situation here in eastern Ontario facing our communities, our residents and our businesses,” said Peter Emon, chairman of the EOWC and warden of Renfrew County. “We explained that for many of our citizens and their employers, there is a strong sense of feeling left out o the government’s current big-curban, big-city agenda that seems focused most on issues like urban transit. Investing in our road systems is just as important to rural communities across eastern Ontario and is critical to moving people and goods to work and markets.”

“We informed the premier that there were a number of specific issues and projects that her government should consider to help drive our local economies forward as well as several things the government needs to take action on – all of which help municipalities control their operating costs going forward,” said Kingston Mayor Bryan Paterson, chairman of the EOMC.

Issues discussed included investing $1.5 billion over the next 20 years to expand natural gas in rural communities and for farmers across eastern and southwestern Ontario; support of the Picton Terminals and Marmora Pump Storage projects; supporting the expansion of mobile broadband and emergency first responder services in eastern Ontario through improved cellular networks and a public safety broadband network; and investing significant additional funding in critical municipal infrastructure such as roads, bridges, water and wastewater facilities among other items.

“The premier heard a co-ordinated and collaborative message from municipal leaders that represent more than a million people across our region and we are hopeful that she will take action once she returns to Queen’s Park,” they noted.

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