City delegates gauge provincial mood at ROMA conference

By Michael Christianson

The Rural Ontario Municipal Association (ROMA) recently met for their annual meeting and this year’s meeting seemed to be a bit stalled.

Councilor Martin MacKinnon and CAO Ernie Remillard each attended the meeting on behalf of Dryden. This was MacKinnon’s third trip to ROMA and he found the meeting very political.

“We had the opportunity to see five ministers, the only thing I can do is compare to where I’ve been before and what happened this time,” said MacKinnon. “I found the ministers were as always approachable, they wanted to talk but they didn’t want to talk too much about additional funding opportunities.”

MacKinnon put forth ideas such as retooling infrastcuture money to be used for demolition but the Minister of Infrastructure Bob Chiarelli didn’t seem open to the dialogue.

MacKinnon said he came away from the conference frustrated that the province is not ready to make commitments and that there is a lot of need in Ontario.

For the CAO this was his first visit to ROMA and MacKinnon praised him for his actions in the roll. Remillard said he got more first hand experience meeting MPPs and seeing how the provincial system works.

“I know we probably feel we’re left out in the cold here, so to speak, at times, I found it quite impressive they are working on that $1.8 billion infrastructure project with power distribution and things kind of have to happen in a process here so when those 16 northern communities get connected to the grid that will automatically increase demand in a huge way,” said Remillard. “So until the electric system operator of Ontario gets that demand it’s tough for them to justify more power in the region because of our low population.”

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