Remarks for Chris White, Chair, Rural Ontario Municipal Association (ROMA), 2011 ROMA/OGRA Conference, March 1, 2011. Toronto, Ontario.
Check Against Delivery

It is my pleasure to welcome you to the 2011 Annual ROMA/OGRA Conference. For delegates who are new to municipal government, a special welcome. And for those that have been returned to office, welcome back. 

It is a pleasure to partner with the Ontario Good Roads Association once again and to be able to provide an exciting and valuable experience to our rural municipalities across Ontario.

For rural communities, one of our most significant challenges is the movement of people and goods along the many thousands of kilometers of roads and related bridges that cover rural Ontario.  The best analysis done by the Province and AMO shows that across Ontario, the total need to meet the maintenance, life cycle and growth related costs for roads and bridges is about $4.3 billion.  The average spending is about $1.5 billion – leaving the investment gap on roads and bridges at an estimated $2.8 billion. 

Add to this the need for water/waste water and all the other capital assets and it becomes clear that the municipal tax base alone cannot satisfy this gap.

Even with current funding programs, the challenge remains large. Partnerships and sustainable approaches are part of the response on this.  Ontario needs Rural Ontario to remain a vibrant part of the province and the country. 

In 2007 ROMA released a Rural – Northern Paper. At ROMA, we are currently updating this paper to address our current challenges, and I encourage you to watch for its release.

We are also reminding the Provincial government to take advantage of the Rural and Northern Lens which ROMA developed in the past. The Lens is there to assist policy and decision makers in ensuring they assess the impact of new policies, programs and services on Ontarians living in rural and northern areas.

Rural Ontario and its communities are united on the road to economic recovery.  This conference is designed to be a vehicle to facilitate partnerships, share success stories, and inspire. 

I am so pleased to see so many delegates here, and it is my hope that this conference is one that is both insightful and inspiring.

I’d like to thank all the speakers and presenters, as well as the delegates in attendance who have made this conference a success.

Finally, I’d like to thank you for the opportunity to serve as ROMA Chair.