Partnerships theme of NOMA conference

Duane Hicks

“Roads to Resources . . . Through Partnerships” will be theme of the annual general meeting of the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association here April 23-25.
NOMA executive director Kristen Oliver said the focus of the conference, which is expected to draw about 150 delegates from across Northwestern Ontario, will be on natural resources in the region, strengths, challenges, and where partnerships can be made to move forward into the future.
For example, the keynote speaker will be Stan Wesley from the Wesley Group, who will focus on municipal-aboriginal partnerships.
Meanwhile, Chantelle Bryson, of the law firm Weiller Maloney Nelson, will speak on the new regional governance model and implementation legislation that has been reached in Quebec between First Nations and municipalities, and whether the same can be done in Ontario—especially in regards to the “Ring of Fire” and other mining opportunities here.
Oliver also said there’s quite a few exciting new initiatives happening in Ontario that delegates will hear about.
For instance, there will be an update on the new building code legislation in Ontario allowing buildings to be constructed with wood, as well as the “Age Friendly Communities” initiative the Ontario Seniors’ Secretariat is working on.
As well, the conference will include a presentation by (and questions and answers with) the Municipal Property Assessment Corp., along with discussions of topics ranging from the accessibility legislation, the Provincial Policy Statement 2014, water, the Northwestern Ontario Tourism Organization, reducing operating costs, and managing for severe weather risks at the municipal level.
“It’s really well-rounded,” said Oliver.
“I think that our delegates will get a lot of interesting information they can take back to their home communities.”
The NOMA conference also will be attended by numerous provincial and federal politicians.
Confirmed so far are Northern Development and Mines minister Michael Gravelle, Municipal Affairs and Housing minister Bill Mauro, Kenora-Rainy River MPP Sarah Campbell, Thunder Bay-Rainy River MP John Rafferty, and Thunder Bay-Superior North MP and Green Party deputy leader Bruce Hyer.
Premier Kathleen Wynne has been invited and it is hoped she will be able to attend, noted Oliver.
Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak and NDP leader Andrea Horwath also have been invited.
Oliver said as many cabinet ministers as possible are being lined up for the “bear pit” session on the Friday morning.
One complication, though, has been that the week after Easter is “Constituency Week” and most MPPs try to spend it in their home riding.
She added organizers are trying to “navigate a way to make this all work.”
The conference will take place at the Memorial Sports Centre and is being hosted this year by the Rainy River District Municipal Association (RRDMA).
The NOMA AGM is held in Thunder Bay every second year, and elsewhere each alternating year by one of the three groups that make up its membership—the RRDMA, Kenora District Municipal Association, and Thunder Bay District Municipal Association.
Fort Frances last hosted the NOMA AGM in 2009.
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