KINGSTON — The Eastern Ontario Wardens’ Caucus (EOWC) has turned to Prince Edward County for leadership, electing Mayor Robert Quaiff as the group’s 2017 chair.
Quaiff was elected to the role at the EOWC’s inaugural meeting Jan. 5-6 in Kingston. Lanark County Warden Bill Dobson will serve as vice-chair. Caucus members — comprising county heads (or “wardens”) from across rural Eastern Ontario — vote to fill the positions each year.
The EOWC lobbies on behalf of 750,000 taxpayers living in 13 County and Single-Tier municipalities in the region.
Warden Jim Bancroft of the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry said the EOWC would “continue working with its partners in the Eastern Ontario Mayors’ Caucus and the Association of Municipalities of Ontario to advocate for legislative solutions that will reduce operational costs for municipalities.”
Added Bancroft, “By working to alleviate the financial burden on the municipal sector, the EOWC aims to improve the conditions for growth and economic development.”
“The EOWC remains concerned about the increasing costs of certain services in the region, particularly when we think about our residents and businesses and their ability to pay. This includes everything from infrastructure to hydroelectricity and cellular network improvements to natural gas expansion, and the EOWC will continue to work with its partners at the provincial and federal government levels for regulatory changes and cost relief across all sectors – as it has done successfully in the past,” said Quaiff.
According to a press release from the United Counties of SDG, the Caucus has set three key priorities for 2017.
- Improving Infrastructure and Connectivity — by working with the Eastern Ontario Regional Network to improve cellular and mobile broadband networks in rural Eastern Ontario; and advocating $3.7 billion in new provincial investments for municipal infrastructure.
- Growing the Regional Economy — by pushing for expansion of natural gas to rural businesses, farms and communities in partnership with the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA); advocating for hydroelectricity distribution capacity and a solution to increasing hydro costs; continued implementation of the region’s economic development strategy through the Eastern Ontario Leadership Council; and key projects such as the Picton Terminals expansion and the Marmora Pump Storage project.
- Reducing Operational Costs — by advocating a solution to policing costs and modernization of the current policing system, as well as provincial solutions to the legislative issues of joint-and-several liability and the interest arbitration system.
See the EOWC video below (from 2013) outlining some of the ongoing challenges in the region.