Disaster relief, boundary changes in spotlight

This week there were some rather important developments for many constituents in our riding.
The City of Thunder Bay has announced information sessions for flood disaster relief for affected citizens, and the Electoral Boundaries Commission has announced changes to our riding that could affect the services people receive in the west end of our riding around Lake of the Woods.
Let’s begin with the information session in Thunder Bay since it is more time sensitive than the changes to our electoral boundaries.
The Thunder Bay Area Disaster Relief Fund for the City of Thunder Bay has organized several community clinics to assist residents of Thunder Bay, Oliver Paipoonge, and Conmee who were affected by the flooding of May 28.
The clinics are intended to help residents complete their applications for the Ontario Disaster Assistance Program and are scheduled for Tuesday nights from 6 p.m.–8 p.m. for the months of September and October.
Below you will find the dates and locations of all future clinics:
•Sept. 18—Oliver Paipoonge Township Office Hall.
•Sept. 25—Minnesota Park, 820 Minnesota St.
•Oct. 2—Slovak Legion, 801 Atlantic Avenue.
•Oct. 9—Moose Hall, 434 Fort William Road.
•Oct. 16—Grandview Lodge Auditorium, 200 Lillie St. N.
•Oct. 23—Minnesota Park, 820 Minnesota St.
•Oct. 30—Slovak Legion, 801 Atlantic Avenue.
If you plan on attending one of the clinics, the city has asked that you bring identification showing your address at the time of the flood as well as all supporting documentation required to be submitted with your claim —specifically any receipts, invoices, estimates, pictures etc.
Please contact Kari Chiappetta, the Disaster Relief Program Manager for Thunder Bay with questions or concerns about the application process.
She can be reached at (807) 625-2607 or kchiappetta@thunderbay.ca.
Riding boundaries
The other key development as it pertains to quality of public services received by constituents comes in the form of the new proposed boundary changes to tour riding.
The proposed changes, part of the ongoing federal electoral redistribution process, would see the following communities move from the Thunder Bay–Rainy River riding to the Kenora riding; Lake of the Woods Township (including Morson and Bergland), Big Grassy First Nation, Big Island First Nation, Saug-a-Gaw-Sing First Nation, and Sabaskong Bay First Nation.
While I do not personally oppose the idea of change, though I would be sad to lose these communities that I love to visit, my concern first and foremost is for the people who live in these communities.
If one consults the ever useful Google Maps they would find that it is approximately 127 km (254 km return) from Morson to my Fort Frances constituency office, or about three hours return if someone needs help with a CPP, disability, or other issue.
However, the trip to Kenora is a full 261 km (521 km return) to receive the same services from their new Member’s office in Kenora.
At this point, the boundary changes are merely proposed and there are public hearings scheduled in the area to hear from those who are affected.
The closest meeting to those who would be affected by these changes in our riding is in Kenora on Thursday, Oct. 6 at the Best Western Lakeside Inn (401 1st Ave. S.
The unfortunate part of the hearing process is that anyone from the affected communities will have to make the 521 km return trip to Kenora to have your voice heard.
If you wish to make a presentation at a hearing or submit a comment, you should inform the commission in writing as soon as possible but no later than October 1, 2012.
Your written notice can be sent to the Commission Secretary at ontario@rfed-rcf.ca, or you can fill out a comment form online at: http://www.redecoupage-federal-redistribution.ca/email.asp?section=on&lang=e
Your notice of presentation should include:
•your name, address and contact information;
•the organization you represent (if any);
•the date of the public hearing that you wish to attend;
•a short overview of the issues you intend to address;
•your official language of preference; and
•any accommodation needs you may have.
I plan to attend these meetings and plan to voice my opposition to the proposed changes on the grounds that the current constituents of our riding who will become part of the Kenora riding will have severely degraded services and less accessibility to their Member of Parliament due to the location of their new MPs office.
Please do take the time to attend one of the ODRAP clinics in and around Thunder Bay if you require any assistance in completing your application, and the Kenora meeting on the new electoral boundaries if you are able to.

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