McClain speaks to council

Geoff McClain, the local Liberal candidate for the upcoming provincial election, told town council here last night that rebuilding communication between levels of government is key to the future of Northern Ontario—and integral to his campaign platform.
“We need to return to a time where there was mutual respect between the municipal and provincial government,” the Ear Falls mayor remarked during a 15- minute session at the Civic Centre.
“There was a time when the province was the first to step to the plate when there was a problem,” he noted. “And the tools to do this don’t seem to be there anymore.
“There’s a vital role for municipalities to play in communities, but there’s also a role for the province,” he stressed.
McClain said this lack of co-operation has become evident in areas ranging from the downloading of land ambulance and other social services to municipalities to problematic tax assessment to provide the money to support these services.
“You [municipalities] have new responsibilities, but where are the new sources of revenue?” he asked.
McClain noted the provincial Liberals not only are committed to public health care and education, but promotion of increased voter participation and a democratic charter whereby Liberal MPPs would feel free to vote as individuals and not along necessarily along party lines.
While he couldn’t say for certain, McClain believed a provincial election may be called next spring.
McClain concluded his presentation by thanking Glenn Witherspoon for his 12-year term as mayor. “I think Fort Frances has been well-served by you over the years,” he remarked.
Also last night, council presented an “Award of Excellence” to Steve Latimer, Youth Justice Program coordinator, from the Ontario Crime Control Commission.
Latimer originally was slated to receive this at council’s June 23 meeting, but could not make it at that time.
As expected, council also referred a request from the Business Improvement Association to remove two bicycle stands from Scott Street to the Planning and Development executive committee for recommendation, with input from the Operations and Facilities executive committee and Police Services Board.
Also at yesterday’s meeting, council:
•referred a request from Terry Johnson regarding putting town fill on walking trails to the Operations and Facilities executive committee, with input from the Community Services executive committee, for a recommendation;
•referred a request and petition from certain residents regarding road upgrades to Elizabeth Street West and York Avenue North (Fifth Street West and Sixth Street West) to the 2004 budget process; and
•voted in favour of a recommendation from the Economic Development Advisory Committee to participate in the Northern Ontario Tax Incentive Zone program.