Last week, I attended the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) Conference held in Ottawa, August 18-21, 2013. We had several successful meetings.
Together with representatives from neighbouring cities (Mayors, Wardens, Regional Chair and Councillors), we met Transportation Minister, Glen Murray. Our request was simple. We need to improve the transportation network in our region – including expanding GO Train services. This is very important to us as our residents rely on efficient transit to get them to work, school, places of worship, shopping, to appointments and events. A well integrated system keeps our community connected.
The Minister is a strong proponent of regional and integrated transportation planning so our request was well received. Our next step is to prepare a joint plan and submit it to the Ministry. Minister Murray indicated his Ministry is looking for direction from municipalities on where to prioritize regional transportation investments.
While we were at AMO, the Minister of Energy, Bob Chiarelli formally announced a support program to assist municipalities in developing community energy plans. The program is modeled on Guelph’s Community Energy Initiative. Guelph provided significant input to the development of the Ministry’s program. We are very pleased to see the Province formally support community based energy solutions and its commitment to building a community of practice in the Province. We were able to meet with the Minister who personally commended our leadership in community energy planning. We were able to advocate on behalf of local businesses who are seeking decisions from the Ministry of Energy and Ontario Power Authority. These decisions are critical for job retention and growth and maintaining the competitiveness of local industry.
We also had the opportunity to share our work on creating an Open Government Action Plan with the Province to realize the benefits of a comprehensive adoption of open government principles and programs in Ontario. Officials from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing are committed to learn more about our open government plan.
I was very interested to hear the Minister of Municipal Affairs indicate that the Province will be reviewing the Development Charges Act and the Ontario Municipal Board. Both are issues that Guelph and other municipalities have been advocating for over many years – let’s hope they go far enough. We will watch these reviews so we can advocate on behalf of Guelph residents.
We continue our work at the local, regional and national levels to advocate for our community needs.