THUNDER BAY – Northwestern Ontario municipal leaders are preparing to give the government their grade at an annual conference early next week.
A delegation from the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association will be among the local leaders from across the province gathering in Ottawa this coming weekend for the Association of Municipalities of Ontario annual conference, which is scheduled for Sunday through Wednesday.
Wendy Landry, the president of NOMA and mayor of Shuniah, said meetings are scheduled with both government and opposition representatives.
“We’re presenting government with a report card on how we see where things are at this time,” president and Shuniah mayor Wendy Landry said on Friday.
While Landry said the report card addresses progress and highlights of action areas on key regional issues such as transportation, health and forestry, she said the results would not be made public until after the conference.
Along with Landry, NOMA representatives who will be in attendance include vice president and Sioux Lookout mayor Doug Lawrance, past president and Kenora mayor Dave Canfield and Red Lake mayor Phil Vinet.
The meetings with provincial cabinet ministers and critics allow Northwestern Ontario issues to be heard, Landry said.
“The more advocacy we have from NOMA and all of our communities, then it puts us right on the radar,” Landry said.
“The message going forward has always been and will continue to be that one size does not fit all and in this northern part of the province we have to stand up louder. We have further distance for them to hear our voice.”
Premier Kathleen Wynne, recently in the region to join the Metis Nation of Ontario’s Youth Voyageur Canoe Expedition, told TBT News the conference allows her and her ministers to get updates on the 444 municipalities in the province.
“The opportunity at AMO is to make a connection with leaders, some of whom I see in between AMO meetings but many of whom I see at that AMO meeting and get a chance to hear from them about how things are going in their community,” Wynne said.
Wynne said she expects to hear from Northwestern Ontario leaders on transportation, the status of softwood lumber negotiations with the United States and the Ring of Fire.
“My hope is we are going to be able to talk soon about how we can move forward with beginning to build some roads so there’s infrastructure for the Ring of Fire,” Wynne said.
Landry also has local matters on her mind, including a scheduled meeting between Shuniah representatives and Education Minister Mitzie Hunter where they will be seeking support designation for McKenzie Public School, which would essentially prevent it from potential future closure.
“You have to be 20 kilometres to get that support designation and we’re 19.5 kilometres,” Landry said. “We’re really battling that message hard that there are rules that need to be a little bit more flexible on support designation on our schools. We’re really fighting in our communities to keep our schools open.”