AMO was great, but more road funding would suit East Ferris

Delegates from East Ferris made the trip to London for the annual Association of Municipalities Ontario (AMO) conference this past August 21 to 23. The conference brings municipalities together with provincial ministers and their staff and offers three days of keynote speakers and discussion on pressing municipal issues.

“It’s been quit some time since there’s been an announcement for roads funding,” said Jason Trottier, East Ferris’ Chief Administrative Officer. “Before the pandemic, every year the government or the Ministry of Infrastructure would come up with a program where municipalities can apply,” and so far, that funding pool hasn’t been announced.

Trottier mentioned the government might be saving that for the Good Roads Conference, usually held in April every year, but for now, “the critical infrastructure that we have, we’re not getting funding for.”

“It’s disappointing.”

Funds for connecting links were announced at AMO, but this doesn’t directly help East Ferris much – no connecting links, so the municipality is ineligible to apply.

Each year, the Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund gives East Ferris about $100,000, Trottier noted. That money has “pretty much been a permanent fund for the last several years,” but “it’s not enough” to make a big dent in road work.

Besides Trottier, Mayor Pauline Rochefort, Deputy Mayor Lauren Rooyakkers, and councillor Rick Champagne made the AMO scene.

Housing, homelessness, and opioid addiction occupied much of the conference’s talk. East Ferris delegates also took in presentations about building senior friendly communities and keeping Ontario’s refrigerated ice rinks safe.

See: Housing a main priority for Mattawa council

As for the housing, once the details of Ford’s $1.2 billion building fund are announced, Trottier plans to apply “for our slice of the pie.”

Currently, East Ferris averages around 18 to 22 new home builds each year. “Throughout the pandemic, it was higher,” Trottier noted.

“We’re curious to see what the criteria is going to be for the program” the Conservatives are offering. Those funds could help create more affordable housing in the municipality. “There’s also a big need for senior’s housing” as well, Trottier said, “housing that keeps seniors living in our community independently.”

Council will keep a close eye out for the funding details once they are released.

Overall, “we really enjoyed it,” Trottier said of the conference. The speakers were informative, the networking events were useful, and the City of London – the conference is usually in Ottawa – “did a great job of hosting the conference.”

David Briggs is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of BayToday, a publication of Village Media. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

David Briggs, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter,