A contingent of Chatham-Kent reps are in Toronto for this week’s Rural Ontario Municipal Association, or ROMA Conference.
There are 10 members of the Chatham-Kent delegation, including Mayor Darrin Canniff, Councillors Aaron Hall, Carmen McGregor, Karen Kirwood-Whyte, Joe Faas, and Clare Latimer. On the administration side, CAO Don Shropshire, CFO Gord Quinton, chief legal officer John Norton, and Generaal Manager of Community Human Services April Rietdyk are in attendance as well.
Ward Five rep Aaron Hall says budget issues are top of mind for virtually everyone at the conference.
“All across Ontario, we’re all entering into budget season. It’s a challenging time, but it’s important. We’re having those meetings with the Ministers, or in our case we have our whole delegation in front of the Ministers and their team in order to share the concerns that we have.”
Hall says they’ve had a number of interesting meetings with provincial Ministries over past few days, including broaching the possibility making better use of surplus school buildings.
“We all know Chatham-Kent’s in a housing crisis, we need more options, especially affordable housing options,” Hall says. “We were able to recommend and pitch to Minister (of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Steve) Clark that we should have a pilot project in Chatham-Kent to look at these properties to re-purpose them and look at turning them into affordable housing sites.”
Other issues the Chatham-Kent group has been focusing on at ROMA include cuts to Legal Aid Ontario, increasing broadband access, and drainage issues.
The three-day conference wraps up today.