COCHRANE — Housing development, mining and winter highway closures were among the topics representatives of the Town of Cochrane brought to the attention of the provincial government at an annual conference.
Mayor Peter Politis, Coun. Susan Nelson, Coun. Marck Recoskie and acting CAO Richard Vallée attended the Rural Ontario Municipal Association (ROMA) conference from Jan. 21-23 in Toronto.
Politis said their first delegation was to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing regarding the town’s $10 lots and rebate program.
“In our part of the province, we don't make the final say on how planning is done in our municipality; the minister and ministry make the final say. We’re seeking delegated authority to make that decision here and the application looks very positive,” he said.
Politis said they also discussed with them the ability to allow people to sever their lots as many times as they’d like.
“Which will help with developmental and help families to pass parcels down to others as well. I just think it's a more modern and progressive approach to the planning. And so that was key for us to establish and get in place as well,” he said.
Another delegation was to Mines Minister George Pirie, who is also the Timmins MPP.
“We had an extremely good conversation with him on the need to create housing development and housing inventory in the province, the need to create better education opportunities here in our part of the region, and a need to find more effective medical services in terms of doctors and physicians and primary care physicians to be able to drive these economic developments in the mines that we want to build and get up going here,” Politis said.
“We have a number of mines that are trying to pop up, but the reality for them is they need employees. They're having a hard time attracting people here and having the housing to be able to accommodate them so that they can put the mine up. No employees, no economic opportunity.”
Their third delegation was to the Minister of Energy to discuss the reopening of the Cochrane power plant, Politis said.
“And getting that power plant in a position where potentially somewhere down the road, we could put a micro-grid in our community and actually supply the power for the whole community of Cochrane at that plant,” he said.
“That plant uses steam to generate electricity, so that excess heat from the steam would be able to create tertiary economics such as greenhouses …. And a lot goes along with that. That requires infrastructure and some investment to help us transition from the from province's grid to our grid and we open the door and got the pieces in place for us to start having that conversation.”
The town’s final delegation was to the Ministry of Emergency Preparedness to discuss wintertime highway closures due to inclement weather, Politis said.
“We're working very hard to rethink and evolve the whole highway closure during the wintertime for inclement weather and getting them to recognize that when those highways close, we have significant lineups that cause all kinds of issues within our municipality,” he said.
Highway closures can put the municipality and its residents at risk, Politis said.
“They're basically cutting off services such as ambulance and police that would need to go places. You've got big long lineups and there's no plan. Everyone in Northern Ontario knows there doesn't seem to be a consistency in terms of how the application is provided to actually do the shutting down,” he said.
“So, we've really advanced that along and the Ministry of Emergency Measures is going to help us bring the Ministry Solicitor General in place, which is the OPP, and the Ministry of Transportation in place. I think we're going to have these very constructive three-way conversations involving that process which is a big thing at the end of the day.”
Politis said they also had a lot of good discussions around the truck bypass in Cochrane.
“And how we're going to actually continue to move that along and get that project up and going, which we think is advancing fairly well at this point,” he said.