RRDMA meeting returns to Chapple this Saturday

By Ken Kellar
Staff writer

Delegates and municipal representatives will be spending the first half of their weekend getting up to speed with a myriad different local groups and organizations at the Chapple Community Centre.

This Saturday, January 14, 2023 marks the 32nd annual general meeting for the Rainy River District Municipal Association (RRDMA), the collection of municipalities that make up the Rainy River District and aim to represent the region on larger stages while advocating for issues deemed important to the people who live here.

This year’s meeting is set to take place in Barwick from 8:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. and will begin with the association’s regular business session, which will included audited financial reports, elections and appointments, and resolutions to be forwarded to the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association (ROMA).

Following the business portion of the meeting, delegations from area organizations take up the remainder of the day’s schedule. According to the meeting agenda, the first presentation will be made by representatives of the Northwestern Health Unit (NWHU) that will include Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kit Young Hoon, NWHU CEO Marilyn Herbacz and board of health member Wendy Brunetta. The NWHU will be discussing their new strategic plan, which will be implemented for 2023-2025. In March 2022 the organization began seeking public input to help develop the plan, and distributed an online survey to gather opinions and comments.

“It is important that we hear from the people and communities that we serve about how we can do better to meet their needs,” Herbacz said at the time.

“Public input allows us to identify community needs, assess our programs and services, and best serve our residents.”

The previous plan was extended into 2021 from its original 2020 end date due to the pandemic, and the NWHU said the new plan will “set the agency up to rebuild and allow them to better serve the residents of northwestern Ontario.”

Following the NWHU presentation, the Rainy River Future Development Corporation and Rainy River District Social Services Board will round out the morning portion of the day, leading into a lunch that is being sponsored by Lowreys, Northwest Road Management, West Fraser and Westland Insurance.

Following the lunch period, the next speaker will be Thunder Bay-Rainy River MP Marcus Powlowski, followed by representatives of the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) who include regional manager Laura Voltti and account manager Steve DeRocco.

Keeping on the theme, the final and largest presentation of the meeting will be from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, which will feature several municipal advisors and managers. The topic of affordable housing in smaller municipalities in the province is likely to provide an opportunity for many attendees to pose questions to the ministry about what plans and changes the government may be considering to address the problems many renters and potential homeowners are facing, though listed in the agenda for this portion of the day is simply “Council Orientation.”

The Ontario government announced a number of housing initiatives in 2022 meant to address housing issues in the province, including Bills 23, also known as the More Home Built Faster act, and Bill 39, the Better Municipal Governance Act. Both bills were roundly decried by the Ontario NDPs.

The RRDMA meeting isn’t all business, however, as attendees will also have several sponsored coffee breaks and attendance draws to be won.