The annual Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) conference is an opportunity for our City to meet with the Province’s ministers and speak to them about the issues particular to our municipality and seek assistance from the provincial government wherever possible.
Even though this year the conference went virtual (running from Monday, Aug. 17-Wednesday, Aug. 19), we still had the opportunity to meet with ministers via Zoom — in addition to hearing from the Premier, ministers and political party leaders, as well as attending sessions and forums on a various of municipal issues (such as a municipality’s role in climate change, building meaningful relationships with Indigenous Peoples in your community and early lessons learned from municipal front lines in our COVID-19 initial response).
Right before the conference, I learned I was acclaimed to the Large Urban Caucus of the AMO board for the next two years and will serve as a representative for the City of Burlington with the support of City Council. I’m looking forward to working with my fellow board members to advocate for the issues that matter to our constituents and to all municipalities across the province.
Below is a high level summary of the Ministers’ meetings for the Burlington delegation at the AMO 2020 virtual conference that took place on Monday, Aug 17, 2020.
Those meetings will be followed up with a thank you letter to each minister outlining agreed upon actions, as well as the presentations that formed the basis of our discussion. The presentations are also available via links in this post.
In addition, a full report on the conference, including meetings with the ministers and supporting materials, will be presented at the September committee cycle.
In attendance at all delegation meetings were Mayor Marianne Meed Ward, City Manager Tim Commisso, Government Relations Manager Helen Walihura, Mayor’s Chief of Staff Victoria Al-Samadi, and Mayor’s Media and Digital Communications Specialist John Bkila. In addition, Burlington MPP Jane McKenna and Oakville North Burlington MPP Effie Triantafilopoulos attended each of our meetings.
Where noted, additional guests joined the meetings.
Minister Jeff Yurek, Environment, Conservation and Parks (Additional participants: Councillor Rory –Nisan) — Presentation: AMO 2020 City of Burlington Presentation – Minister Yurek
Separate meeting with Parliamentary Assistant to Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, MPP Harris – discussed same topics and action items — Presentation: AMO 2020 City of Burlington Presentation – MPP Harris
- Updated them on our Nelson Quarry (proposed new expansion) and Meridian Quarry (existing license close to residential)
- Shared the staff directions for both quarries
- ACTION: Both agreed to participate in a multi-stakeholder meeting called by the mayor to discuss the conditions of the site plan and their oversight and due diligence in ongoing monitoring and studies conducted on the air quality impacts of the quarry activities to ensure the quarry is operating within provincial regulations. (This is the meeting referred to in the Dec. 2019 staff direction).
Minister Doug Downey, Ministry of the Attorney General — Presentation: AMO 2020 City of Burlington Presentation – Minister Downey
- Shared our initiatives around anti-racism
- Shared our concerns/questions around cancelling the court house project; asked for an update on timelines to get information on the digital transformation as well as renovations to Milton and Burlington court houses; No timelines yet
- ACTION: he agreed to a follow up meeting with the four mayors, chair and chief of police to discuss the court house project. Plans for renovations are underway and they will share them when ready (could not provide a timeline)
- ACTION: he agreed to a follow up meeting called by the mayor with police chief (and others as needed) to discuss options around lesser provincial offences to capture racist behavior, that don’t meet threshold of a federal hate crime but deserve some judicial response.
Minister Steve Clark, Municipal Affairs and Housing (Additional participants: Councillor Rory Nisan) — Presentation: AMO 2020 City of Burlington Presentation – Minister Clark
- We thanked him for municipal funding, the electronic meetings and clarity on our ability to remove the MTSA downtown
- Also thanked him for ability to piece out the Municipal Comprehensive Review approvals and bring some matters forward separately, earlier in the process.
- Provided an update on the progress related to our Official Plan, and the staff direction/unanimous vote at committee regarding lifting the MTSA and shifting boundaries of UGC through the Region’s MCR process.
Minister Caroline Mulroney, Transportation + Associate Minister (GTA) Kinga Surma — Presentation: AMO 2020 City of Burlington Presentation – Minister Mulroney + Associate Minister Surma
- We thanked her for her assistance in speeding approvals for development of lands within MTO jurisdiction (action item from last year’s meeting) and for her clarity on our ability to remove the MTSA downtown
- provided her an update on the progress related to our Official Plan, and the staff direction/unanimous vote at committee regarding lifting the MTSA and shifting boundaries of UGC. Highlighted that future growth will be accommodated around the GO station MTSAs/higher order transit.
- Provided an overview of Burlington transit, the increase of 16% pre COVID and the steep decline in revenues and ridership during COVID
- Minister Surma on the call also, who has point on MTSA planning.
- ACTION: Minister is open to discussing in the next round of funding that criteria include increases in transit ridership to factor into formula. We will follow up with details around the increases to Burlington Transit pre-COVID (but not a full year of data)
Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Infrastructure, MPP Minister Crawford (Additional participants: Councillor Angelo Bentivegna) — Presentation: AMO 2020 City of Burlington Presentation – MPP Crawford
- Asked for suggestions re including Skyway in funding; he suggested exploring whether an Infrastructure Ontario loan would give us favourable terms.
- The CCR program was oversubscribed: $10B in requests for $1b in funding. He suggested advocating to federal and provincial governments for a new round of funding under the CCR and perhaps Skyway could be included in that.
- Raised issues around rural broadband
- ACTION: perhaps a resolution at city/region/OBCM re new intake and funding for CCR
- ACTION: he suggested we look into the ICON Program for rural broadband, funding closed Aug. 21, next round of funding opens in spring 2021.
Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca (hosted by Councillor Rory Nisan, due to mayor’s scheduling conflict) — Presentation: AMO 2020 City of Burlington Presentation – Steven Del Duca – Liberal Party of Ontario
- Provided updates on:
- Business support and attraction – Red Tape Red Carpet Task Force / COVID-19 response / Burlington Economic Recovery Network (BERN)
- Environment – Climate emergency declaration / Urban Private Tree Bylaw / Funding for tree-planting / protecting the Greenbelt
- Diversity & Inclusion – Black Lives Matter Solidarity March & temporary sidewalk art / Rainbow sidewalk / Culture Days & Burlington One Festival
- Growth & Development – Right Place Right Scale / Protect the character of our downtown / Focus growth around mass transit / 50 current project, with 7,000 units / Burlington’s density targets to be reached based on applications currently under consideration as of 2019 / MTSA and UGC designations downtown
- AMO 2020 Virtual Conference: Halton Region Delegation Meets with Ministers
- AMO 2020 Virtual Conference: New Board Members Elected, Acclaimed for 2-Year Term
- Burlington Mayor Meed Ward Acclaimed to the Large Urban Caucus of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario
- Premier Doug Ford’s Remarks at the Virtual AMO 2020 Annual Conference
- Minister Steve Clark’s Speech at the 2020 Association of Municipalities of Ontario Virtual Conference