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TED McMEEKIN COLUMN: Association of Municipalities of Ontario fetes president Russ Powers

By Ted McMeekin, ADFW MP

At their upcoming meeting in London, Ont., AMO (the Association of Municipalities of Ontario) will pay tribute and bid farewell to their outgoing president Russ Powers.

Councillor Powers has served our local community with distinction for over 32 years and amazingly also found time to lead both the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and AMO. Clearly Ontario, Canada and Dundas have benefited from Councillor Powers incredible leadership. Thank you, Russ!

The AMO conference will be my first formal introduction to Ontario’s 444 constituent local governments. Given my four terms as an elected municipal office holder and my new role as Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, this AMO conference has a bit of a “coming home” feel to it.

It’s also has a busy feel. During the AMO conference, my ministry will sit down in over 400 individual face-to-face meetings. And on Aug. 15 I will commence my Ontario Building Bridges Tour of municipalities by meeting in open session with our own Hamilton City Council.

I believe AMO and the province have a shared sense of purpose, namely to ensure our cities become communities and our streets become neighbourhoods. And for us to take bold and positive steps to move our municipal agenda forward, we must continue to talk to each other and work together.

Renewing the only memorandum of understanding between any provincial government and its constituent municipalities is a current priority. So, too, is broadening our definition of what constitutes social housing, working to strengthen our important public services, growing our local economies by creating jobs, continuing to make smart strategic investments in new infrastructure including modern transit, engaging new private sector partners in community building, preserving our green heritage and agricultural lands, enhancing land-use planning policies, building an equitable OPP billing model, moving forward on the issue of interest arbitration and undertaking significant municipal election reform is going to take much deliberation and a lot of hard work.

As minister of municipal affairs and housing, I’m looking forward to working closely with Ontario’s many talented municipal leaders. Only by working together will  we build stronger, healthier, more sustainable local communities. There’s a lot of work that needs doing — so let’s get at it.

— Ted McMeekin is the Liberal MPP for Ancaster, Dundas, Flamborough, Westdale

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