South Dundas Mayor Steven Byvelds attended the annual ROMA/OGRA Combined Conference in Toronto last week.
The conference, which took place from February 26th to February 29th, gave Byvelds the opportunity to meet with politicians from other municipalities throughout Ontario.
According to their website, ROMA (Rural Ontario Municipal Association), “is Ontario’s rural municipal voice, ensuring that matters affecting rural communities are brought to the attention of the provincial and federal governments.”
OGRA (Ontario Good Roads Association) “represents infrastructure interests of municipalities through advocacy, consultation, training and the delivery of identified services.”
On March 6th, Byvelds revealed that “there were no objectives going to ROMA. It is,” he added, “a great opportunity to discuss issues or methods with fellow municipal politicians.”
In terms of how things progressed at the conference, he said “there were some good information sessions.”
“I believe if you come home with one idea it was worth the effort.”
As for what South Dundas residents might find relevant from the conference, Byvelds said, “I did go to a seminar that was related to climate change and picked up a contact with information we can use when we have our public meeting concerning the sewer issues in our villages.”
In addition, “there was also a panel discussion on how municipalities need to work with local post-secondary institutions and how they affect economic development.”
According to their own literature, the ROMA/OGRA Combine Conference “is one of the largest annual gatherings of municipal leaders in Canada. It’s aim is to reinvigorate public debate about how municipalities will respond to emergent challenges and opportunities.”
This year’s conference, according to Byvelds, presented a good opportunity “to get a feeling on where the Provincial government is heading in these current times of fiscal restraint (don’t expect the cheque in the mail).”
While Byvelds didn’t get an opportunity to speak with the Premier himself, he did “take the opportunity to listen when he spoke.”
According to Byvelds, Premier Dalton McGuinty “did speak in generalities and hoped to continue to work with municipalities in the future. He committed to the finish date on the uploads but cautioned us on the new spending limit for the OMPF (Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund) of $500 million. He also re-committed to Green Energy.”
While several politicians walked out during the Premier’s ROMA appearance in protest of his energy policy, Byvelds admitted, “no, I was not involved.”
“I do not think it is a way to have a meaningful dialogue on issues. It takes two to discuss and walking out does not solve the issue.”