As Chair of the Western Ontario Wardens’ Caucus, Grey County Warden Duncan McKinlay, along with a select group of rural Ontario’s leaders, met with Premier-designate Kathleen Wynne to discuss issues facing rural and small-town communities.
Chair McKinlay was pleased to attend the roundtable discussion held at Gwimdale Farms, north of Bradford, on Wednesday morning and represent the interests of rural and Southwestern Ontario, Grey County, and the Town of the Blue Mountains.
Premier-designate Wynne indicated that rural issues are important to her and her government. She expressed interest in beginning a meaningful dialogue on how the Provincial Government can better serve the interests of rural Ontarians.
“The Premier’s early demonstration of interest in the issues and challenges of rural and small town Ontario is welcomed,” said Chair McKinlay following the meeting. “Ms. Wynne showed a genuine interest in wanting to understand our issues, to listen to us and to work with us.
“On behalf of the Western Ontario Wardens’ Caucus,” said Warden McKinlay, “I indicated that we are seeking partnership opportunities to expand the prosperity base of the region and overall wellbeing of rural and small urban communities. Our immediate priority is the creation of a regional broadband network that will provide affordable and accessible ultra-high speed internet connectivity to all households and businesses in the region.”
Other key priority areas for the WOWC include participation in discussions on any social assistance reforms being considered by the new Premier and her government and ensuring more predictable and stable provincial funding supports to municipalities. Chair McKinlay joined others in expressing the need to review and reform the local food regulatory environment, to enhance financial support for rural infrastructure like roads, bridges, culverts and broadband, and to review the range of provincial land use planning and development controls that often stand in the way of creating a vibrant local rural economy.
Reflecting on the meeting with Premier-designate Wynne, Chair McKinlay acknowledged the roundtable discussion as a positive first step in strengthening rural Ontario’s relationship with the Provincial Government: “Today’s meeting was an excellent personal introduction to Premier Wynne and a symbolic gesture of considerable substance on her part that she and her new government will be listening to rural Ontarians and working with us to address our challenges and seize opportunities.”
For more information, please contact WOWC Chair, Grey County Warden Duncan McKinlay at 519-372-0219 ext. 1255 or firstname.lastname@example.org or WOWC Secretary, Grey County CAO Lance Thurston at 519-372-0219 ext. 1219 or email@example.com