High-speed internet access, roads and long-term care are some of the key concerns brought to the province by Black River-Matheson leaders.

The annual Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) conference, which took place in London, Ont., from Aug. 20 to 23, gives municipal leaders the opportunity to meet with Cabinet ministers and opposition leaders.

Mayor Doug Bender said he attended the conference alongside the township’s CAO Chris Wray and presented four delegations about broadband, local healthcare, long-term care and infrastructure.

“Our small population is spread around in a lot of rural areas and I know our CAO has been working very hard at trying to improve our broadband situation in our community,” he said.

“Broadband isn’t just a matter of wires or a satellite or whatever, it’s a matter of making sure it’s there for the people that need it and making sure it’s affordable. There’s always ways to get stuff, but sometimes it’s not affordable and then it’s of no use because if people can’t afford, it they can’t use it.”

In terms of infrastructure, Bender noted that because of the major expansion of agricultural activity in the municipality, it has put more pressure on local roads and other infrastructure.

“And due to the reductions in government funding, or the lack of it, or just the aging infrastructure we have, whether it is roads, water, or sewer, it costs a lot of money to bring that stuff back up to speed. And with the extra agricultural activity, we want to make sure that we’re well-positioned to handle that. So, we of course brought those issues forward,” he said.

Similar to what the majority of the province is experiencing, concerns regarding doctor and healthcare professional limitations were also brought up, Bender said.

“We were talking to them about possibly having our own family health team and the province financing and helping to support it and helping us to obtain more doctors, nurse practitioners, and other health care workers,” he said.

South Centennial Manor located in Iroquois Falls was another topic discussed with the Ministry of Long-Term Care.

“We were just part and parcel of a regional approach because Iroquois Falls has South Centennial Manor, which was originally built, I think, back in 1967 to service the Cochrane, Iroquois Falls, and Black River-Matheson areas and its situation is it’s getting past its best before date,” Bender said.

“They made an application to build a new one and the government accepted the application but because of financial pressures they weren’t able to get it to the point where it needs to be to basically put the shovel in the ground and get it going. So we were basically there making sure that the Ministry of Long-Term Care Minister Calandra was fully aware of the situation.”

Bender said they want to ensure the project can happen in a timely fashion.

“It’s going slower than we had hoped for and the committee that’s managing it didn’t want to lose their place in line for the government funding and are looking for maybe some additional government funding to make sure the project can happen in a timely fashion,” he said.

According to Bender, the submissions were well-received.

“The four ministers and their staff were quite happy to accept our information. But, as per normal, you never get an answer at those meetings. They take the information back and at some point in time we’ll receive a letter or email or both basically saying, ‘Yes, we concur with your concerns and this is what we’re going to do for you.’ Or, as what happens in lots of cases, they say, ‘Sorry, we can’t help you at this time. We take your information under consideration,’” he said.

“Lots of times there’s more disappointment than there is excitement at the end of the day. But, we did our best to make sure our cases were well-presented and well-known. And I personally intend with some of my other political connections with the provincial government to actually keep following up on all the delegations because there’s lots of stuff that needs to be done here so that we don’t keep losing councillors and our staff and our taxpayers are well-supported.”

Bender said all of the briefs from the session in addition to any others going forward will be posted on their municipal website.

“So, if anybody is looking for that information, it will be sitting there ready to go,” he said.

By Marissa Lentz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Aug 26, 2023 at 04:25

This item reprinted with permission from   TimminsToday.com   Timmins, Ontario

Comments are Welcome - Leave a reply below - Posts are moderated