Northern leaders are looking at the new minister of municipal affairs and housing as another ally in the region's corner.
The Northern Ontario Municipal Association is ecstatic about Premier Kathleen Wynne's appointment of MPP Bill Mauro (Lib., Thunder Bay-Atikokan) as outgoing minister Linda Jeffery's replacement.
NOMA president and Kenora mayor David Canfield said the organization was abuzz with the news Wednesday morning.
"NOMA is quite happy with the fact we now have two ministers," he said, noting that with Thunder Bay-Superior North MPP Michael Gravelle at the helm of Northern Development and Mines, the region's lead ministry, and Mauro leading the main portfolio for municipalities, the region is in a win-win situation.
"It'll be a great opportunity to work with these gentlemen who have a passion for Northwestern Ontario and have a passion for their area to work even closer and hopefully make things happen even quicker," said Canfield.
The battle with the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation over industrial tax reassessments and ensuring the region has the energy it needs are the two biggest issues Northwestern Ontario is facing and Canfield said he looks forward to the new working relationship with both Mauro and Gravelle.
"We plan on getting together as soon as possible and start getting things moving," said Canfield.
Mauro's experience as a city councillor will be an asset, said Canfield, adding he's excited to see the newly appointed minister search back into his previous life in municipal politics and use it as a tool.
Not only is Mauro's council experience valuable, but so is his time as a housing manager for the Thunder Bay District Social Services Administrative Board, said DSSAB vice-chairman Aldo Ruberto.
"We're very, very happy that he's there," said Ruberto of Mauro's new cabinet post.
"I'm sure Bill is very aware of what our needs are in terms of housing," he said, noting the city has brought the issue forward to the intergovernmental committee many times.
The district's biggest issue is the lack of affordable housing.
Ruberto said it's expensive to build and not many people are going to build affordable housing units without government incentives.
And while Ruberto knows Mauro has to work within the budget he's given, he's pleased the minister of municipal affairs and housing has experience in city politics.
"He is very aware of our issues and he knows exactly what's going on," said Ruberto.
Gravelle is thrilled for his colleague and said that the ministry of municipal affairs and housing is an important portfolio to hold.
"It's one that's crucially important to certainly the municipal leadership here in Northern Ontario," he said.
Gravelle believes this will make the pair of MPPs an even stronger team now that they'll both be sitting around the cabinet table.