Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) Conference – In Conversation
Ottawa August 19-22, 2018
This annual conference gathers municipal politicians from different parts of Ontario plus suppliers of services and Provincial politicians. As with all conferences which councillors choose to attend, the councilor and therefore the Township get out of the conference what the councilor is willing to put into it – what sessions they attend and the learning they draw from these and the networking they do. It takes work and follow up by the councilor to make them worthwhile. It is also good to have more than one councilor attend a conference, as there are numerous concurrent presentations, and these can be split between attendees to get the maximum learning. I was the only councilor attending this AMO conference.
A major component of these conferences is the ability to make delegations to Provincial ministers and staff regarding issues in your township. I corresponded with Mayor French and CAO Brindley well before the conference, requesting I be copied on all materials about our planned delegations and requested that I attend all delegations. I followed up with the CAO, only to find out that the Mayor had indicated that because he was not going to be attending the conference, there were going to be no delegations at this conference by the Township. There was no communication with me as Deputy Mayor regarding this. It is logical that, in his absence, I would make the appropriate delegations, to get our Township represented and heard. This was an important missed opportunity to meet with new ministers of a new government to get Springwater exposed to them. There were between four and eight delegations made by each of the other Simcoe municipalities there and over 500 delegations made in total.
On the conference programming page (link below) are videos and presentations made during the conference. I will comment on some of them.
Keynote Speaker: Shawn Kanungo – “We are on the Brink of a Revolution”
Shawn is described as a strategist who operates at the intersection of creativity, business and technology. He reviewed his 2020 Strategy and talked about how we will hire and use talent and the use of automation through artificial intelligence. He talked of the balance between nostalgia and disruption in our society and being prepared for this. He used the example of Dominos Pizza, with 1,000 locations in 2010 and now having 21,238 locations, and really becoming a data management company to help manage its growth in today’s environment. Municipalities have not been designed to experiment quickly and analyze the results and change accordingly – he recommended creating a culture of experimentation. Be hungry to learn and experiment.
Building Better Infrastructure Projects in Your Community
Discussed maximizing the use of wood for infrastructure building of midrise, tall buildings, low rise commercial and bridges. Building code amendments allow for structural wood framing up to six stories. Cost per square metre to replace bridges: Concrete $8,022 versus Timber $2,552. Timber bridges last average 82 years with many over 100 years. Lower maintenance costs, reduced ratings and failures.
Political Leader Presentations
We heard from Premier Doug Ford, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, Interim Liberal Leader John Fraser and Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner. Videos of their presentations are on the link above.
Citizens Perspectives for the Municipal Election 2018
Nik Nanos of Nanos Research gave a very interesting presentation of his recent polling results. Video of the presentation is on the link above and it is summarized in my August 23rd Springwater News article (page 13).
Municipal Fiscal Health – What We Know
For every six in ten people, improving the state of roads and bridges is a high priority. Seven in ten people are concerned property taxes will not cover the cost of infrastructure. Ontario property tax revenue per capita is higher than the rest of Canada. AMO conducted its Provincial-Municipal Fiscal and Service Delivery Review and noted the following:
$4.9 billion needed each year for 10 years to close the infrastructure gap and continue delivering today’s services and to close the infrastructure gap.
Average estimated household tax at $3,000 in 2015 will be $6,989 in 2025.
Spurring Rural Economic Activity: Challenges & Opportunities
Presentations on: Burk’s Falls downtown community improvement; Grey County revitalization; CannAssist – a prospective Ontario based producer of pharmaceutical grade cannabis for medical use. Examples of development in Kapuskasing as a local community partner.
Hubs Coming to a Community Near You
Role of Municipal Council in Rural Ontario Communities – Township in Huron County. Examples of revitalization of communities by creating hubs in different towns of the township. Reviewed steps and processes used. Referenced CommunityHubsOntario.ca – provincial funding and resources.
Municipal Investment Income Potential with Prudent Investor
Reviewed the current Safe Harbour rules and use of prudence in investing municipal monies. Reviewed examples of investment needs and options, reviewing asset classes. Reviewed One Investment business model and how municipalities can use it for better returns with safe investments.
Vision: 100% Plastics Recovery through the 4Rs
Canadian Plastics Industry Association (CPIA) – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Recover. Most plastic enters oceans from mismanaged waste. Leakage by country – China is #1, Canada is #112. CPIA goal – 100% of plastics packaging is re-used, recycled and recovered by 2040. Interim goal – 100% of plastics packaging is recyclable or recoverable by 2030. Working with G7 countries’ global plastic commitment. Convert post consumer plastics into original state molecules to be reused in new products. Plastics = valuable energy source – advanced thermal and energy recovery. Reviewed London ON example.
Cannabis & Communities – The Here and Now
Panel presentations on Cannabis Legislation, Policing and Cannabis, Municipal Enforcement & Provincial Offences Act Implications, Questions and Impacts. Considerations and implications of coming change to the legislation.
Ministers’ Forum – BEAR PIT SESSION
The annual hour-long session of questions from the floor and answers from Ministers (video on link above).
Basically, the theme of answers was that – we hear you – we heard the delegations messaging – we are looking into these and studying them – we have made some changes to start to address these – we are committed to do more – stay tuned.
Municipal Joint and several liability – Fair & reasonable limits on municipal liability – AG Mulroney has been briefed and this was raised in delegations – they are looking at this closely to follow up.
Interest arbitration – So that Police and Fire get fair wage increases that the taxpayers can afford. Legislative changes in this process to enable municipalities to pay. Min Labour Laurie Scott – directed staff to look into issues and delegation recommendations and get back.
Commercial Water Taking Permits – Municipalities do not (but should) have a priority to take licenses. Put commercial requests on hold until municipalities submit requests and until further testing is done to see what should be taken. Min. Rod Phillips looking at all aspects of water expect to hear from government on all aspects of water. Many delegations referred to this.
Phragmites – Ministry to take on as a lead ministry – Min. of Enviro Rod Phillips – a multi ministry concern – understand the tools and need to work collectively – serious threat.
Downloading – commit to no more downloads – Vic Fedeli – reviewed relief for families & municipalities by cancelling cap in trade – hydro reduction – corporate income tax – small bus tax reductions.
Clarity around Crown’s Duty to Consult – Min. Indiginous Affairs Rickford – Increase Crown’s duty to consult – increase consultation and make sure it is communicated.
Commit to work with AMO to streamline legislation and bureaucracy
Min. Steve Clark & Dep Christine Elliott – Committed to fixing unnecessary bureaucracy.
Youth voting and involvement
Lisa McLeod Youth initiative – more of a mentorship mold – listen to new ideas.
Double Hatters – Laurie Scott – Look into issue look at all the sides – heard the issues.
Disabled – reduction in support – Fideli re buck a beer – no cost to government or taxpayer
Pause button on social programs – Lisa MacLeod – Come back with a sustainable plan within 100 days. Referred to delegations regarding this.
Affordable housing – work with municipal governments – Planning to convene a working group to meet after Oct 22 election.
Rural hospitals – Funding formula – revisit so smaller hospitals can continue to function. Looking at this.
Investing in programs to improve health – public health initiative to keep people out of care
Greater emphasis on wellness – working with other agencies.
Complete streets and active transportation corridors
Withdrew critical funding for this – was funded by cap in trade – line by line review and will assess ability to deliver programs going forward.
Funding for forestry
Jeff Yurek $54M budgeted for roads – want to build on solution for the industry – build and develop economy in Northern Ont.
Need help aging seniors to stay in homes – programs to help people to do repairs – suggestions and will discuss at federal level as well.
Youth engagement – Cannabis education
Lisa Thompson – Programs will work together.
Community Hub Building
Monte McNaughton – What is commitment to community hubs and work with Ministry of Health
Lay out federal and provincial infrastructure program in the fall – possible funding for hubs.
Plan to ensure francophones and indigenous receive health services of the same standard
Elliott – work with federal government to ensure no gap
Monte McNaughton – releasing fed provincial infrastructure program this fall – 4 streams
Transition blue box to full producer responsibility. – 2023 target – conversation ongoing.
Increase mentally ill + opioid crisis
Elliott – $3.8B over 10 yrs prov + fed for mental health strategy + housing strategy + supervised injection sites review.
Crisis of palliative care – care for seniors
Brian Smith – Elliott – eliminate hallway care – 15000 long term beds in next 5 years and 15K in the next 5 years after that
Wetlaufer examination – awaiting recommendations re specific care arising from this.
Deputy Mayor – Don Allen