By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express
When it comes to the provincial government, Oshawa’s mayor wants to see the lines of communication open a bit further.
Carter, along with other members of council, were among the thousands of municipal representatives who attended this year’s Assocation of Municipalites of Ontario (AMO) Conference in Ottawa.
While Carter says he was able to speak with some provincial ministers, to him, “it was never enough time.”
“I feel that there is still a great deal of work in terms of building a relationship with the provincial government and municipalities all across Ontario,” he told The Oshawa Express.
Carter says his main priority was to make MPPs and ministers aware of the challenges facing municipalities.
He has attended AMO in the past as a councillor, but says the experience is “significantly different” in the role of mayor.
“It’s a lot different as mayor in that you are carrying the many issues, and that you have direct access to individuals [within the provincial government],” he says. “Being prepared, well-versed and well-articulated is so important.”
“It’s almost like speed dating,” he quipped.
During an address to the joint Large Urban Mayors Caucus, and mayors and regional chairs in Ontario, Carter urged for the creation of a working group to address what he calls a “national health crisis” caused by poverty, mental health and addictions issues, and homelessness.
He also advocated for a new hospital in Durham Region, currently in the planning stages, to be built in Oshawa.
In discussions with Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath, Carter urged Horwath to be “more forthcoming” with any talks she has with leaders at GM Canada regarding transition plans after the Oshawa assembly plant closes later this year.
Carter, along with regional chair John Henry, also pushed for Metrolinx to move forward with the expansion of the Lakeshore East rail service further into Oshawa and Clarington.
The mayor says he still wants to see the original option, which would see stations near Trent University Durham and just south of the downtown core.
“We’d like to get this 10-plus year process moving forward. We’d like to see the opportunity to see shovels in the ground.”
Despite having some meaningful conversations, Carter says questions remain.
“I’m very concerned with some of the proposed changes that the provincial government is going to require municipalities to undertake,” he says.
He is unsure of exactly where all responsibility will land moving forward.
“What will be downloaded? What will be uploaded, if anything,” he wonders. “What are the roles and responsibilities that we may have, or may not have?”
During the AMO Conference, Premier Doug Ford announced municipalities will soon be sharing costs of public health and childcare space creation with the province.
Carter says these types of announcements often come without all the background information, something he hopes to see improvement on.
“Communicate with us. Just to make an announcement under a conceptual base without the material to look at isn’t helpful to communities across the Province of Ontario,” he adds.