Tbnewswatch Local News
2014-02-27 at 2:10PM

Provincial attention

City manager Tim Commisso, Coun. Joe Virdiramo and mayor Keith Hobbs hold a media conference Thursday morning.
Jodi Lundmark, tbnewswatch.com
City manager Tim Commisso, Coun. Joe Virdiramo and mayor Keith Hobbs hold a media conference Thursday morning.
By Jamie Smith, tbnewswatch.com

Energy, the proposed event centre and health care were the main priorities for the city at a recent provincial conference.

City officials, including mayor Keith Hobbs and city manager Tim Commisso, returned from the Ontario Good Roads Association conference late Wednesday.

They, along with councillors from the intergovernmental liaison committee said the three days were spent meeting with cabinet ministers and opposition leaders on a number of issues that matter to the city and region.

Hobbs said overall the conference went well and the city feels they were listened to.

But a meeting with energy minister Bob Chiarelli was the exception. The city and province are still at odds over the future of the Thunder Bay generating station, which will see 50 jobs lost when it converts to biomass.

"I wasn't particularly pleased with the outcome of that meeting," Hobbs said.

"I still don't think the minister gets it."

The city was more pleased with a meeting with Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Glenn Murray.

With the event centre being the city's top priority on the list, Murray offered to come to Thunder Bay to discuss its future.

Hobbs said the centre will be a job creator and economic driver for the city, which officials in every minister understood.

A potential youth centre was also discussed with the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs. Coun. Joe Virdiramo said that project needs other levels of government to step in to help out.

"It's hard to get financial commitments from government at this time," he said.

As for health care, Minister Deb Matthews told the city that a plan is coming to deal with a critical shortage of long-term care beds. 

At the conference three years ago the city asked what the province was going to do to get the Ring of Fire moving. They were told at the time to form a plan, which the city developed into its Mining Readiness Strategy.

Returning to Good Raod conference with a city plan in place this year, Hobbs said the city asked Premier Kathleen Wynne what the province's plans were.

They were told the province needs to get it right.

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