The Town of Smiths Falls Mayor Shawn Pankow along with Councillors Dawn Quinn
and Chris Cummings joined more than 1,000 rural municipal officials from across the
province at the 2018 Rural Ontario Municipal Association (ROMA) Conference in
Toronto from January 21 to 23.
The conference launched Monday morning with a keynote address by premier Kathleen
Wynne where she featured Smiths Falls as a community re-inventing itself and on the
rise. Delegates learned about the meteoric rise of Canopy Growth, le Boat’s decision to
re-locate their North American Headquarters in our town along with several other
examples of the transition taking place within the local economy. A video clip will be
played at the next Council meeting on February 5th at 5:00.
“I was pleasantly surprised to hear Premier Wynne single out Smiths Falls as a
community on the rise” said Mayor Pankow. “Our council and staff go to work every day
to do our part in moving this town forward and we feel good about the future of our
community. It is rewarding to know that the premier recognized some of the positives in
her opening remarks. I had an opportunity to thank her personally that evening and she
was very complimentary of the progressive change happening in Smiths Falls. This is all
very encouraging when we are in the process of seeking provincial grants for the
redevelopment of Beckwith Street and are supporting Tweed’s vision of opening a retail
store at its production facility here.”
The conference is a key opportunity for rural officials to raise local priorities with the
provincial government, foster partnerships and learn about new opportunities. Funding
municipal services and infrastructure continues to be a recurring a key theme, one that
will be important heading into the provincial election.
Municipal governments face an estimated funding gap of $4.9 billion annually for the
next ten years, just to maintain current services and address infrastructure needs.
Municipal governments and property taxpayers need to see a plan that helps reduce
this gap in a meaningful way. The conference was an opportunity for local leaders to
press all three parties for solutions.
Key priorities for the Smiths Falls contingent were Connecting Links funding for the
Beckwith Street rehabilitation project along with MPAC reforms to streamline property
re-assessments and bring clarity and consistency to the methodologies employed by
MPAC in assessing commercial properties.
Other highlights of the conference included:
• Speeches by all three party leaders, as well as a number of Ministers
• Ministers’ forum where over 20 ministers and Premier answered questions of
municipal concern from delegates
• Sessions on economic development matters, such as rural broadband, natural
gas and autonomous vehicles.
• Critical challenges like rural schools and health care access
• The impacts on local services of cannabis legalization
Conference news releases, fact sheets and presentations from key speakers are posted
on ROMA’s website at www.roma.on.ca.