Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Inspired at the AMO Conference

Have you ever participated in a conference for your work or for a service club or group with which you are involved?

If so, you know that the right conference can be inspiring and encourage you to reach greater goals. It can be a time to “take stock”, compare one’s efforts to the “best practices” of others, and to build relationships. And, some conferences often contain exhibits with new products or services.

That’s why I’m pleased to let you know that I felt this year’s annual Association of Municipalities of Ontario conference from August 25 to 27 in Ottawa was all of these things.

More than 1,800 delegates from municipalities across Ontario attended – including Pelham Town Councillors John Durley and Sharon Cook, Town CAO, Martin Yamich, and myself. The conference included more than 30 plenary sessions and workshops. The main topics included energy management, infrastructure investment, environmental protection, sustainability planning, immigration promotion, waste management, youth involvement, federal gas tax funding, trade and labour mobility, and labour relations. In addition, all three provincial party leaders and 17 Provincial Ministers and Parliamentary Assistants addressed us.

You may have heard that the Premier announced $1.1 billion of funding to all 445 Ontario municipalities. Since the allocation will be based on the 2006 census, Pelham will receive $775,259 and the Niagara Region will receive $20.1 million. While the exact criteria isn’t yet available, the Government indicated that it should be used for “infrastructure” and urged municipal leaders to “choose their next infrastructure project, and to move that project forward.”

While at AMO, your Pelham delegation also advanced your interests with four Provincial Ministers. First we met with Leona Dombrowsky, Minister of Agriculture, Food & Rural Affairs, to inform her about several “buy local produce” initiatives in Niagara and to encourage her to support farmers. Then we met with Jim Bradley, Minister of Transportation, about the arrangement Pelham made with Welland Transit to link us to the rest of the peninsula; he was impressed with our leadership and our plan. Next, we urged Donna Cansfield, Minister of Natural Resources, to come forward with a funding program to assist with spraying for Gypsy Moth. Finally, we informed George Smitherman, Minister of Energy & Infrastructure, about Pelham’s significant infrastructure needs – from roads and bridges, to pipes and facilities.

Not only did the AMO Conference encourage your Pelham delegates to use “best practices” and reach higher goals, it was also a tremendous opportunity to advance your interests with Provincial Ministries and build relationships with other municipal leaders.