East On­ta­rio war­dens lob­by pro­vince

Vision (Canada) - - News -

Im­pro­ving in­fra­struc­ture re­sources and re­mo­ving bar­riers to new bu­si­ness growth was the double-bar­rel­led ap­proach from Eas­tern On­ta­rio’s re­gio­nal lea­ders, du­ring their mee­tings with the pro­vin­cial ca­bi­net in Wind­sor.

The de­le­ga­tion from the Eas­tern On­ta­rio War­dens’ Cau­cus (EOWC) pres­sed pro­vin­cial mi­nis­ters for go­vern­ment po­li­cies that would both im­prove eco­no­mic de­ve­lop­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties wi­thin the re­gion and help en­cou­rage re­si­den­tial growth. Rea­so­nable ener­gy rates, in­clu­ding the op­tion of na­tu­ral gas ins­tead of hy­dro for hea­ting, and se­ve­ral other key re­gio­nal is­sues made up the EOWC lob­by port­fo­lio du­ring the an­nual As­so­cia­tion of Mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ties of On­ta­rio (AMO) confe­rence.

“In the case of ener­gy costs, they are in­crea­sing at an un­pre­ce­den­ted rate, with no end in sight,” sta­ted Pe­ter Emon, EOWC chair­man and cur­rent war­den for Ren­frew Coun­ty, “and the rea­li­ty is that ru­ral cus­to­mers are shoul­de­ring a dis­pro­por­tio­nate bur­den com­pa­red to their ur­ban coun­ter­parts.

High ener­gy costs force fa­mi­lies to choose bet­ween elec­tri­ci­ty bills and other ba­sic ne­ces­si­ties and ser­vices, po­sing a gro­wing threat of ‘ener­gy po­ver­ty’ across our re­gion and the pro­vince. They al­so hurt the growth po­ten­tial of our bu­si­nesses, which have al­so ex­pres­sed the need to ad­dress grid re­lia­bi­li­ty is­sues and high ex­pan­sion costs.”

The EOWC is pres­sing the pro­vince for ex­pan­sion of na­tu­ral gas ser­vice in­to more ru­ral areas, both to be­ne­fit area re­si­dents and exis­ting and fu­ture com­mer­cial de­ve­lop­ment. The cau­cus al­so ur­ged im­me­diate im­pro­ve­ment and ex­pan­sion of the hy­dro po­wer grid to “serve the gro­wing needs of bu­si­nesses and in­dus­tries across the re­gion.”

Other eco­no­mic de­ve­lop­ment as­sis­tance sug­ges­tions from the EOWC in­clude im­pro­ved ac­cess to mo­bile broad­band ser­vice for both com­mer­cial and re­si­den­tial cus­to­mers by clo­sing the cur­rent co­ve­rage gaps in exis­ting cel­lu­lar ser­vice net­works; buil­ding a first re­spon­der pu­blic sa­fe­ty net­work that will serve as a mo­del for both the pro­vin­cial and fe­de­ral le­vels; pro­vin­cial po­li­cy plan­ning fo­cus on ways to help grow the ru­ral eco­no­my of Eas­tern On­ta­rio ins­tead of crea­ting more bar­riers to de­ve­lop­ment; po­li­cy help to deal with the ri­sing cost for OPP and other emer­gen­cy ser­vices, which af­fect mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ties’ abi­li­ty to in­vest in their lo­cal in­fra­struc­ture.

The EOWC al­so pre­sen­ted its own brief to the pro­vin­cial ener­gy mi­nis­try with re­com­men­da­tions for On­ta­rio’s next long-term ener­gy plan. The white pa­per re­port sug­gests nee­ded in­fra­struc­ture in­vest­ment for ex­pan­sion of ener­gy sup­ply sys­tems, pro­vi­ding re­liable links for na­tu­ral gas and elec­tri­ci­ty to ru­ral and re­mote areas of Eas­tern On­ta­rio, and wor­king on “more af­for­dable” ener­gy sup­ply plans for ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties.

“We spoke di­rect­ly with On­ta­rio mi­nis­ters about concerns that create si­gni­fi­cant fi­nan­cial bur­dens on mu­ni­ci­pal bud­gets,” sta­ted Guy Des­jar­dins, war­den for Pres­cott-Rus­sell, “such as the ri­sing cost of po­li­cing and emer­gen­cy ser­vices, the bro­ken in­ter­est ar­bi­tra- tion sys­tem contri­bu­ting to those es­ca­la­ting costs, and the cur­rent le­gal sys­tem known as joint and se­ve­ral lia­bi­li­ty, that holds mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ties fi­nan­cial­ly res­pon­sible for is­sues of­ten out of their control and ju­ris­dic­tions, and raises their in­su­rance pre­miums.” To­ny Su­rette, de­pu­ty Grand Knight for the Knights of Co­lum­bus (St. Edith Stein Pa­rish coun­cil), pre­sents a $500 cheque to Yvon Hup­pé, pre­sident of Centre d’aide Ro­ck­land Help Centre, for the non-pro­fit group’s food bank ope­ra­tion. The mo­ney comes from part of the pro­ceeds of the club’s va­rious fun­drai­sing events ai­med at hel­ping the com­mu­ni­ty.

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