Roads, potential school closures and farming issues will be the focus for Prince Edward County Mayor Robert Quaiff as he heads into two days of ministerial meetings at the Rural Ontario Municipal Association (ROMA) Conference.
On Monday morning, Quaiff who is also the chairman of the Eastern Ontario Wardens Caucus (EOWC) will meet with the leader of the province’s Progressive Conservative Party, Patrick Brown. The EOWC has a tall order of discussion topics to put on the table including: rural infrastructure needs; infrastructure investments to expand natural gas into rural communities; lowering hydro rates; cellphone network improvements and legislature change policies.
Early in the afternoon, Mayor Quaiff will sit down with Minister of Transportation Steven Del Duca to talk roads in the County.
The mayor said he has no intention of bringing up the well travelled and depleting County Road 49.
“I have gone over its condition and made multiple requests,” explained Mayor Quaiff. “Minister Del Duca is well aware of the situation. I’m going to focus on the exits and entrances on provincial roads in the County but not 49.”
He added there will be some discussion around bridges. In previous conversations with Quinte News the mayor has expressed concerns surrounding the unknown timelines for proposed repairs to the major entrances into the County.
Mid-afternoon Quaiff is set to meet with Ontario Education Minister Mitzie Hunter to formally request the province stay the execution of the Accommodation Review Process.
In November 2016, the Hastings Prince Edward District School Board revealed plans that would change the future of six of the County’s eight schools.
At its January 25 meeting, council approved a recommendation calling for the cancellation of the ARP that is studying the future of schools across Ontario.
Mayor Quaiff said he will deliver the motion to Minister Hunter and ask her to slow down the process until the Accommodation Review Committees can complete an independent study of the impacts on small rural communities to ensure their recommendations can be considered.
On Tuesday, the mayor will go over rural farming issues with Finance Minister Charles Sousa and Minister of Agriculture Jeff Leal.
Over the past month groups of local County farmers have come to council requesting a reduction in the farm tax ratio because of a considerable increase in the taxable assessment on Ontario farmland.
Mayor Quaiff said he wants to see if there is something more the province can do in the way of offering farm tax subsidy programs.