09/25/2015

To keep members informed, AMO provides updates on important issues considered at regular AMO Board of Directors’ meetings. Highlights of the September 2015 Board meeting include:
Fair Pricing of e-Books for Public Libraries
The Board of Directors approved a resolution that municipal councils may consider passing regarding the fair pricing of e-books for public libraries.  The resolution requests that the Ontario Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport work with federal, provincial, and territorial governments to find a solution that will allow public libraries to purchase e-books from publishers at a more reasonable price.

AMO Climate Change Task Force Recommendations
The AMO Board was updated on the recommendations of AMO’s Climate Change Task Force regarding Ontario’s long term climate change strategy including the design of a Cap and Trade system to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  The recommendations include:

  • the need for funding for municipalities to expand transit, active transportation, and other greenhouse gas reducing activities;  
  • credit in a cap and trade program for municipal initiatives that result in greenhouse gas reductions;
  • stable funding to adapt municipal infrastructure to a changing climate;
  • increased data for municipalities and floodplain mapping updates to allow the creation of private flood insurance;
  • initiatives to safeguard and expand agriculture and forestry in rural and northern communities as part of the strategy.
The recommendations have been provided to the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) for consideration in the development of the Ontario strategy.

What’s Next Ontario? Update
The AMO Board received a project plan for the next phase of the Board’s fiscal sustainability initiative and progress update on work.  AMO members should expect further consultation on this critical initiative beginning in February 2016.  As a reminder to members, a report on Phase 1’s consultation which scopes out the challenges and possible opportunities was sent on August 17.

Federal Gas Tax Annual Report
As required under the Administrative Agreement on the Federal Gas Tax Fund, AMO must submit an annual report highlighting Gas Tax investments in eligible projects to Infrastructure Canada by September 30th of every year.  AMO board members have approved the 2015 Gas Tax annual report for submission to Canada.  The report will be distributed to the 443 Ontario municipalities in early October.

Conservation Authorities Act Review
The Province is reviewing the Conservation Authorities Act and is seeking to scope the issues within the broad categories of roles/responsibilities, governance, and funding.  The Board approved a set of principles which should guide this process as it progresses:
  • the division of roles and responsibilities will drive governance and funding;
  • funding should be sufficient to result in the desired outcomes; and
  • transparency and integration should characterize the management of natural resource and environmental goals.  
The provincial consultation papers are available on the EBR Registry Number.  This first consultation ends on October 19, 2015.  The AMO Conservation Authorities Task Force will be providing further advice on this subject and on the upcoming wetlands review.

Municipal Act Review – Technical Amendments
The Board of Directors endorsed the Municipal Act submission of the Municipal Finance Officers Association which includes several technical changes proposed to improve financial administration.

Bill 112, Strengthening Consumer Protection and Electricity System Oversight Act, 2015 – New Roles for Local Distribution Companies (LDCs)
The AMO Board received an update on Bill 112.  If passed, the Bill creates potential opportunities for Local Distribution Companies (LDCs) and municipal shareholders to alter services and reconfigure delivery models.  It would also increase the powers and responsibilities of the Ontario Energy Board.  Staff from AMO and Electricity Distributors Association (EDA) will work together as this Bill progresses.  As policy positions emerge, the Task Force will make recommendations to the AMO Board for advocacy activities.

Aggregate Resources Act Review
An update on the Aggregates Resources Act review was received by the Board.  The Province is seeking advice on how to achieve stronger oversight, updating fees, improving environmental accountability and improving information and public participation.  AMO’s Aggregates Task Force will provide advice to the Board as specifics on these themes emerge.

MEPCO Update
OMERS is analyzing part-time employees who are not OMERS Plan members as the government’s policy intent is that they are to be part of a pension plan (OMERS or ORPP) by January 1, 2020.  The OMERS Boards will explore this issue through the fall and MEPCO will monitor this work and any municipal employer impacts.  The MEPCO Board was updated on the status of the OMERS Strategic Plan initiative and also approved the reappointment of Barry Brown as an AMO representative on the Sponsors Corporation Board, which was endorsed by the AMO Board.     

LAS Update
The One Investment Program provides advantageous and high quality investment options to the Ontario municipal sector which allows for diversification, minimized investment risks, full investment liquidity, and superior returns.  Pooled investments do achieve much higher returns.  LAS staff can also assist municipalities in creating long-term legacy investment ‎portfolios.