Glen McNeilHuron County Warden, and Chair of the Western Ontario Warden's Caucus, Glen McNeil. (Photo provided by the Western Ontario Warden's Caucus)

Ontario West Municipal Conference to return following 6-year hiatus

This fall marks the return of the Ontario West Municipal Conference.

It will be held for the first time since before COVID, back in 2018.

Western Ontario Warden's Caucus Chair, Glen McNeil, says the conference brings together hundreds of participants representing municipalities and organizations from across Western Ontario.

"We will discuss topics that will be very pertinent to Western Ontario, and we're going to invite our MPs and MPPs from our area to be in attendance at this conference that is going to be held this fall," McNeil explained.

The Ontario West Municipal Conference will be held Friday, October 25, at the John D. Bradley Convention Center in Chatham-Kent.

McNeil, who serves as mayor of Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh and warden of Huron County, says the hope is to see partnerships with upper levels of government strengthened.

"I would suggest collaboration would be the first thing, and when I say that, it's one thing to make everyone aware of both the topics and what needs to be addressed, and then when we collaborate together, that's when we become very, very effective," said McNeil.

Some major issues will be discussed with MPs and MPPs that are pressing across the province, chief among them housing.

"And more specifically, affordable housing," stated McNeil. "I will suggest that within Canada, Ontario is the economic driver, and within Ontario, Western Ontario is the economic driver. We have a need for more affordable housing to provide a workforce for the 250,000 businesses that choose to locate in Western Ontario."

The conference will feature a fireside chat with Associate Minister of Housing the Honourable Rob Flack and Parliamentary Assistant for Municipal Affairs and Housing MPP Matthew Rae.

With housing at number one, and affordable housing the main focus, McNeil says those go hand-in-hand alongside infrastructure investments.

"We would like to have that communication with both our provincial and federal governments of the need to fund infrastructure in our respective municipalities. Without a doubt, in conjunction with that, is the need for mental health resources and to look out for the wellbeing of all of our residents," McNeil concluded.

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