Some fans of OEMC

Re­gional con­fer­ence for mu­nic­i­pal politi­cians and staff mem­bers un­der­way at Nav Cen­tre

Standard-Freeholder (Cornwall) - - NEWS - ALAN S. HALE ahale@post­media.com twit­ter.com/Alan_S_Hale

Del­e­gates from dozens of mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties all over have been meet­ing in Corn­wall at the On­tario East Mu­nic­i­pal Con­fer­ence, which be­gan at the Nav Cen­tre on Wed­nes­day.

The three-day con­fer­ence is a chance for lo­cal po­lit­i­cal lead­ers and mu­nic­i­pal staff mem­bers to get to­gether with their coun­ter­parts from across the re­gion and talk shop. It was an op­por­tu­nity many del­e­gates ap­peared to rel­ish, per­haps even more than go­ing to larger mu­nic­i­pal con­fer­ences.

“This is one of my favourite con­fer­ences that we go to each year,” said Eric Dun­can, the mayor of North Dun­das. “The chal­lenge we have when you go to places like the As­so­ci­a­tion of Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties of On­tario con­fer­ences in Ot­tawa, the fo­cus ends up be­ing on large cities like Toronto or Ajax, which have mil­lions of dol­lars in their bud­gets.

“This is all about small mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, so I find this is where you get the best, prac­ti­cal things you can take back to our com­mu­ni­ties.”

This was a com­mon sen­ti­ment among del­e­gates on Thurs­day morn­ing. North Glen­garry Coun. Carma Wil­liams said be­ing able to look at is­sues fac­ing her com­mu­nity along­side peo­ple who are fac­ing those ex­act same ob­sta­cles is time well spent.

“I like this con­fer­ence in par­tic­u­lar be­cause it fo­cuses on east­ern On­tario. The peo­ple who at­tend are from the re­gion and we share things in com­mon,” she said. “I also find that some of the work­shops here are spe­cific to this re­gion and are ef­fec­tive to bring new ap­proaches to chal­lenges we all share.”

The sem­i­nars are the main fo­cus of the con­fer­ence and staff mem­bers from the at­tend­ing mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties were teach­ing most of them. Dun­can him­self ran a sem­i­nar where he talked about in­no­va­tive ideas for in­vig­o­rat­ing small com­mu­ni­ties based on his ex­pe­ri­ence in pol­i­tics since he was first elected at age 18.

“It was great and well re­ceived by every­one,” said Ian MacLeod, War­den of the United Coun­ties of SDG and South Glen­garry mayor, who at­tended the lec­ture.

There were also sem­i­nars on the im­pend­ing le­gal­iza­tion of cannabis, re­gional eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment, map­ping projects, com­mu­nity safety and well-be­ing plan­ning, food tourism, soil man­age­ment, re­cruit­ment poli­cies, grant writ­ing, cy­ber­se­cu­rity, how recre­ation and leisure ser­vices ben­e­fit the econ­omy and so­cial me­dia use.

(The so­cial me­dia sem­i­nar) was very in­ter­est­ing. We talked about the tools that we can use to try and mit­i­gate some of the neg­a­tive things that get posted on Face­book and those sorts of things,” North Glen­garry Coun. Jeff Man­ley said. “There are pro­cesses that we can go through to work on those prob­lems be­cause so­cial me­dia is still a bit of a wild west. That was a re­ally good ses­sion.”

Lo­cal MPP Jim McDonell also left the con­tentious de­bates tak­ing place at Queen’s Park to come and pro­mote the PC gov­ern­ment’s vi­sion of cut­ting red tape by re­duc­ing the amount of re­ports and stud­ies and other bu­reau­cracy re­quired be­fore projects can go ahead.

Out­side of the sem­i­nars, there was also a trade show with dozens of booths set up by com­pa­nies of­fer­ing ser­vices such as con­sult­ing, in­sect con­trol, tree plant­ing, gran­ite for mon­u­ments, in­surance, waste­water sys­tems and more.

McLeod ar­gued one thing that is also im­por­tant but isn’t of­fi­cially on the agenda at the con­fer­enc­ing is the abil­ity to net­work and ca­su­ally dis­cuss how is­sues are ad­dressed in their home com­mu­ni­ties with other mu­nic­i­pal of­fi­cials.

“I think there’s just as much re­solved here in the hall­ways when peo­ple have dis­cus­sions about how things are done in dif­fer­ent com­mu­ni­ties,” said the war­den. “There is no sin­gle home run on any given is­sue, it’s about putting the lit­tle pieces to­gether to com­plete the puz­zle. “

ALAN S. HALE/CORN­WALL STAN­DARD-FREEHOLDER

At­ten­dees at the On­tario East Mu­nic­i­pal Con­fer­ence dur­ing a break-out ses­sion on Thurs­day, look­ing at way to im­prove pub­lic en­gage­ment.

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