Township mayors were among a group of local officials taking part in some firsthand advocacy, taking their message to Parliament Hill and Queen’s Park.
Woolwich Mayor Sandy Shantz and Wellesley Mayor Joe Nowak joined a delegation last week that included regional Chair Karen Redman, Waterloo Mayor Dave Jaworsky, Wilmot Mayor Les Armstrong, North Dumfries Mayor Sue Foxton, Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic and Cambridge Mayor Kathryn McGarry. They were raising issues of local concern at what is known as Waterloo Region Advocacy Day.
In Toronto, the group sat down with provincial cabinet ministers to discuss directly the priorities of Waterloo Region. Topics were wide-ranging, including affordable housing, transit infrastructure, safe injection sites, amendments to Bill 66, and local dispatch operations. Each leader brought their own unique perspective to the table, with Nowak focused on better access to high-speed Internet service for rural areas.
“Access to online education, government services, employment, and entertainment should be available to all Ontarians, regardless of whether they live and work in urban or rural communities,” said Nowak in a statement. “Funding support from the government of Ontario for the Southwestern Integrated Fibre Technology (SWIFT) Network will bring affordable and accessible high-speed fibre broadband service to those communities who want to actively compete globally and locally.”
Shantz, on the other hand, focused on mental-health wellness and initiatives, particularly in light of the opioid crisis.
“The province of Ontario must make investments in the promotion of mental health and wellness, as well as enhanced diagnosis and treatment of mental health conditions and related addictions,” said Shantz. “Regional council, as the board of health for Waterloo Region, has partnered region-wide with local first responders and service agencies and extensively consulted with the public to develop a made-in-Waterloo-Region model of service. Today, we appealed to the provincial government to maintain our increase funding for opioid addiction treatment, rehabilitation, and harm reduction programs in Waterloo Region.”
This is just one other way of advocating regional interests for Redman, who also made the trip to Parliament Hill in Ottawa along with five other mayors on February 20 to raise issues with the MPs.
“Waterloo Region is one of the fastest growing community of municipalities in Canada and home to a top-20 global technology cluster that is responsible for generating 17 per cent of Canada’s GDP,” said Redman. “Our meetings at Queen’s Park today are a testament to our collaborative nature as a region and why Waterloo Region is one of the best places to live, work and thrive in Ontario. No one level of government alone can serve the needs of our citizens; working together for the benefit of all is what good government is about.”