Espanola Mayor Douglas Gervais joined more than 1,200 participants from across the province at the 2023 Rural Ontario Municipal Association Conference held this week in Toronto.
In response to the housing crisis, the Government of Ontario has made swift and significant changes that have an impact on land-use planning, public infrastructure financing, environmental protection, and municipal governance.
The conference theme, Breaking New Ground, focused broadly on ROMA’s advocacy work completed over the past year, including ROMA’s action plan: Opportunities for Rural Ontario in a Post-COVID World. Additionally, ROMA’s Attainable Housing Task Force published an in-depth report in 2022 featuring practical steps to address Ontario’s rural housing crisis.
Key presenters for the 2023 conference included Ontario Premier Doug Ford, opposition leaders, and provincial and federal ministers.
Keynote speakers included Jesse Wente, broadcaster and Indigenous advocate, speaking about the current state of truth and reconciliation in Canada and what can be done to further the process, and award-winning author Dr. Thomas Homer-Dixon, who discussed why our planet is in crisis, and the powers we possess to renew our imperiled world.
Rural Ontario Municipalities Association Chair Robin Jones and Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) President Colin Best also spoke.
Mayor Gervais was joined at the conference by Deputy Mayor Angela Kelly, Councillor Aidan Kallioinen and CAO/Treasurer, Allan Hewitt.
The conference features a vast array of workshops that the group has divvied up to maximize opportunities for gathering information and learning from sector experts.
ROMA takes pride in promoting, supporting and enhancing strong and effective rural governments. About 270 of Ontario’s 444 municipalities have populations of less than 10,000, while many more are rural in character. The rural arm of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, ROMA advocates for policies and programs that will help build thriving rural Ontario communities.