NOMA annual conference held in Kenora

The Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association held their annual conference in Kenora this past week and all three provincial leadership candidates attended to seize the opportunity to speak with mayors and councilors from the region.

“The presence of provincial leadership candidates seemed at times to be a competition to prove which party could bribe us the most with our own taxpayer money,” said Mayor Gren Wilson.

“Queen’s Park has almost doubled it’s revenues since the turn of the century, meaning we are paying almost twice as much in taxes and fees, yet citizens seem to be more unhappy with services provided and to top it off, taxpayers in Ontario are left with a current bill of just over $300 billion dollars in provincial debt. Most Mayors I talk to feel money is not being wisely invested in our towns by the Province.”

Wilson attended the NOMA conference with councilor Nick Beyak and he said that they always come away from these conferences with more information and ideas than they had before. “The AMO keynote presentation was the most helpful and informative regarding future downloading of responsibilities from the Province to the municipalities, some related to emergency training and policing,” said Wilson.

“Our biggest concern as always, is that Queen’s Park perennially falls short of providing actual matching funds to Northern Ontario towns. Why? Simply because too many disbursements are based on acceptance or rejection of our applications at Queen’s Park rather than on a guaranteed formula for distributing those payments uniformly and fairly to all municipalities. The process is too politicized.”

“Queen’s Park has almost doubled it’s revenues since the turn of the century, meaning we are paying almost twice as much in taxes and fees, yet citizens seem to be more unhappy with services provided and to top it off, taxpayers in Ontario are left with a current bill of just over $300 billion dollars in provincial debt. Most Mayors I talk to feel money is not being wisely invested in our towns by the Province

MP Bob Nault attended the meeting and also addressed those in attendance. He said that this year’s meeting was more politicized than normal with the candidates in attendance but he was happy to attend and listen to the priorities of the district.

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He said this year there was a focus on health care and, as always, infrastructure. “What I’m trying to encourage is for municipalities to work together on regional issues. I represent a large region, which includes 13 municipalities and 42 first nations so I have to look at it from the bigger picture. One of the key areas obviously is broadband internet and the lack of progress we’ve made,” said Nault.

“We’ve made some progress in fairness to the government, but government has to seize this a little stronger and change the way we look at the development of that infrastructure because at the rate we’re going we’re never going to get the north to be in competition with the rest of the world if we don’t get that right.”

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