DURHAM: Ontario Premier Doug Ford addressed a full ballroom as Ontario’s rural municipal leaders gathered at their annual Rural Ontario Municipal Association (ROMA) convention on Monday morning, saying “the people of Toronto don’t realize, number one, how great Ontario is until you get out of the bubble—I call Toronto the “bubble,” by the way. You got to get out of the bubble because there’s a whole life outside of Toronto.”
A featured speaker, Premier Ford said he was there to provide an update on what the local politicians could expect in the coming months. North Durham’s townships participated in the conference to varying degrees. Brock Township sent their mayor and entire council, Uxbridge Mayor Dave Barton and councillors Willie Popp and Gary Ruona attended, and Scugog’s mayor, Bobbie Drew, was also present.
According to the ROMA’s newsletter, the rural mayors and councillors were looking forward to learning about cannabis legalization, labour law changes, and natural gas expansion.
Regarding energy, the Premier promised privately funded natural gas expansion and said it would be made available to as many as 78 communities in rural Ontario. He recalled that the Green Energy Act was cancelled to allow local communities to have input on planned energy projects and “have the final say on these important planning issues.”
Premier Ford announced a consultation process regarding municipal insurance costs, its impact on property taxes and Ontario residents, saying “We heard your concerns about the liability chill, preventing everyday activities in your municipalities, like as simple as tobogganing or street hockey…”
Ford also reminded the audience of previous announcements for transportation funding, infrastructure planning assistance, upgrades to smaller hospitals and the withdrawal of Schedule 10 of Bill 66, saying the latter was proof the government was listening: “…we would never approve any projects at the expense of the Greenbelt, water quality or public health. It just wouldn’t happen.”
As for cannabis, Premier Ford mentioned the costs of dealing with the legalised product in his closing remarks, assuring local politicians that they could count on his government.
ROMA reported that the Honourable Ernie Hardeman, Minister of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs spoke following breakfast, stressing the need for more broadband and telecommunications services in rural and northern areas. Attendees participated in an update on cannabis legalization prior to Mr. Ford’s appearance. Many government ministers were also present, with all other party leaders addressing ROMA on Tuesday.
ROMA is a branch of the non-profit, non-partisan Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO). Scugog, Uxbridge and Brock townships are part of ROMA Zone 5, which did not have a Zone Representative before the convention and according to the organization’s web site, no nomination was received prior to the meeting.
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