For the fourth year in a row, the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce Power Hour event was a great success. The event features the local MP, MPP, Warden and Mayor having a frank and open conversation and answering the questions of the Chamber membership.
Joining us on stage this year were MPP Dave Smith, Warden J. Murray Jones, and Mayor Diane Therrien. MP Maryam Monsef was unable to attend because she was part of a mini cabinet shuffle that saw international development added to her portfolio.
The political leaders were asked almost 20 questions in the one hour time frame.
“The number of topics covered ranged from economic development, to post-secondary education, health care, WSIB, passenger rail and air service, to affordable housing,” said Stuart Harrison, President & CEO, Peterborough Chamber of Commerce. “I think the opportunity to get our elected leaders on stage, taking questions on any and all topics is very important. And to have a record number of elected City and County Councillors, administrators and a full house on hand was also great to see.”
To get the conversation started we asked each what where their top three issues to address in the
MPP Smith identified:
Warden Jones highlighted:
Mayor Therrien spoke about:
This year’s Power Hour had its fair share of interesting moments. The availability of employment lands loomed large with a question around whether or not the city, county and townships could reach agreement on a plan for expanding employment lands either through a servicing agreement, annexation or other means.
“I thought having MPP Dave Smith and Mayor Therrien talking openly about amalgamation was not only interesting but very important,” reflected Harrison. “With the Province in the middle of a Regional Municipal Review with recommendations expected on the efficiency of those multi-tier structures, it’s important that these conversations be held openly and in good faith. As Warden Jones pointed out, “from 30,000 feet in the air we are just a little dot, with no man-made boundaries, so let’s consider ourselves as one”. Wise advice.”
The Warden emphasized the need for more investment in internet connectivity and referenced the cell gap analysis being completed by the Eastern Ontario Regional Network. “For many businesses in the County,” he said, "a lot of our economic development depends on improved connectivity.”
MPP Smith spoke about his assignment to develop a plan to encourage more travel to Ontario Parks, while Mayor Therrien said that they are looking to speak with the province about completing the south end of the Parkway from Clonsilla to Sherbrooke. The province currently has a ministerial order on the project that is holding back the City’s ability to complete even a portion of the project. But, she said, “Even if we were to get the go ahead, construction is still at least five years out.”
Next up on the political docket is the release of the provincial and federal budgets. Both are expected in the next two or three weeks with the federal budget confirmed for March 19th.