Fully engaged

Dear editor:
I would like to respond to the letter from Ken Perry which appeared in last week’s issue of the Fort Frances Times.
I believe I can safely speak for all councillors in stating the new council of the Town of Fort Frances is committed to ensuring that the provincial government hears, understands, and takes action on the issues which impact our community and–importantly–our bottom line as a municipality.
Council accepted Administration’s recommendation not to attend the January conference of the Rural Ontario Municipal Association (ROMA) because the deadline to file our requests to make deputations to provincial ministers at the conference was immediately after we were sworn into office. We were still transitioning into our new roles at that time.
We do not discount the importance of learning from our counterparts across the province and speaking with one voice with other rural communities. However, we also are mindful of our obligations to be responsible stewards of the public purse. The registration cost to attend ROMA is not insignificant, nor are the travel and accommodation costs.
Our council is engaged with the province on an ongoing basis on a number of critical local issues. This dialogue has been greatly facilitated by the fact our local MPP, Greg Rickford, is not only a member of the government caucus but is a senior member of cabinet.
Our relationship with Minister Rickford has provided access and support that Fort Frances did not have when it was represented by the third party in the legislature. Councillors met with the minister twice in January, and a delegation of council met with him again last week to discuss a number of local priorities.
I expect that Fort Frances will be sending delegations to future municipal conferences like ROMA, which are an effective advocacy and capacity-building tool for local government.
I would like to thank Mr. Perry for raising this question and for emphasizing the importance of local leaders taking action on the issues listed in his letter, especially on railway taxation–a matter on which he has been a passionate advocate for our community.
Douglas W. Judson
Town of Fort Frances