Local mayors shared local priorities with the Prime Minister as Justin Trudeau made a campaign-style stop in Waterloo Region last week.
Woolwich Mayor Sandy Shantz and Wellesley Mayor Joe Nowak were among the local representatives who joined a discussion at Kitchener City Hall on April 17. They were joined by regional Chair Karen Redman and their counterparts from the other municipalities.
“I think each of the seven mayors had an opportunity to discuss something that was particular to their area,” said Nowak. “The rural mayors had mentioned broadband [Internet], was one issue that we discussed. We also expressed the need for natural gas out in the rural areas.
“I got the sense that the Prime Minister was well aware of some of these concerns. I think that the intent from his point was to reaffirm his commitment to rolling out some of the infrastructure money that they had committed,” he said, referring to the mid-March joint municipal-provincial-federal $30 billion, 10-year funding model, with the first stream directed towards rural and northern infrastructure projects.
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Also taking part were local MPs Bardish Chagger (Waterloo), Raj Saini (Kitchener Centre) and Marwan Tabbara (Kitchener South-Hespeler)
“Basically, it was just a very candid conversation about boosting levels of government, advocating for investment in Waterloo Region,” said Redman, expressing her approval with the recent federal government’s investment in the region.
“When we talk to our federal counterparts, especially the Prime Minister, we know we can take sort of that bigger view. So we talked about the Toronto-Waterloo Innovation Corridor and how we’re a very active partner with the GTA.”
While the meeting lasted just an hour, a wide variety of topics were discussed.
“We talked about the importance of the airport, we talked about the importance of transit and connectivity, the all-day, two-way GO [train],” said Shantz. “We talked about stable funding, which of course is more of a provincial jurisdiction, but money flows from the federal government to the province for certain things. We talked about agriculture and technology.”
The mayoral meeting wrapped up Trudeau’s busy two-day stay in the region. Just the day before, he announced a $52.4 million investment for three tech hubs in the province called the Scale-Up Platform, with $18 million allotted to the Kitchener tech hub, Communitech.
He visited the neighbouring Wilmot Township for lunch at the Imperial Market Eatery, and led a town hall meeting in Cambridge. He attended a Liberal fundraiser breakfast in Waterloo Wednesday morning, then capped off his stay with the mayoral meeting before going back to Ottawa.