The Association of Municipalities Ontario conference brings municipalities from across the province together with political leaders to speak about the issues their communities face.
Mayor of Hastings Highlands Vic Bodnar attended his first AMO conference last week. He says he had meetings with multiple dignitaries, but he says the delegation the municipality had with Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks about their waste sites was an “eye-opener” for them.
“There were two things we wanted to bring to their attention,” Bodnar says. After the municipality lost their recycling contract, they had to scramble to find a new one. They did, but the new contractor only covers them until November. “After that, we have nothing,” Bodnar says. The provincial government is working on revising the Blue Box program, but that will only be ready in four to six years. “When the contractor closed his doors here, that affected not only us but 18 other municipalities,” he adds. Bodnar says he hopes the Ministry understands how serious the situation is.
He notes that there is a possibility to have a digester installed in Hastings Highlands. Bodnar says that would not only service Hastings Highlands but also “a lot of the Eastern part of the province.” He hopes the government pitches in to help set that up.
The Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry John Yakabuski also sat-down with the Mayor to talk about the cuts his portfolio is facing. “We are a lake-based tourist community and anything the MNR has to cut back on impacts us,” Bodnar says. He also spoke with the incoming Minister for Training Colleges and Universities Minister Jill Dunlop. “They’re looking to change a lot of the stuff that we see coming down the tubes as a far as a lack of people getting into the trades,” Bodnar says. He’s worked with them for many years and says the conversation he had with Dunlop was encouraging.