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Towns talking area services board

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The Rainy River District Municipal Association working group will meet with unincorporated area residents next Tuesday in Emo to try to come up with an agreement for the local area services board proposal. That came after district municipal reps met with Joe Spina, parliamentary assistant to Northern Development and Mines minister Chris Hodgson, for three hours at the Red Dog Inn here yesterday.

Fort Frances Mayor Glenn Witherspoon admitted the issue of representation was something Spina stressed still needed to be worked out before the Rainy River District proposal could get the nod.

"I think it’s safe to say that [the unorganized areas] concern is representation," agreed Rainy River Mayor Gord Armstrong, who chairs the working group.

The RRDMA proposed representation by population (one vote for every 1,500 people).

While they haven’t been able to come up with an agreement on that so far, Mayor Armstrong noted the "double majority" rule--the majority of councils representing the majority of the population--would help them come up with the final solution.

Meanwhile, the unincorporated areas also want to know what services they will be paying for, with Mayor Armstrong assuring the working group was trying to be as fair as possible.

"The legislation spells out what should be on it," he explained.

"Nothing can happen until they get the three readings through for the ASB," he added, with the Legislature not set to resume sitting until April.

Until the legislation is in place, Spina indicated the district services area board (DSAB) will be put in place to administer social services. Representation on that, Mayor Witherspoon said, would be up to the municipalities.

But Mayor Armstrong noted the message that came from yesterday’s meeting was that municipalities didn’t want a DSAB here, calling it a trial ASB.

"It’s going to be a nuisance," he argued, noting they would appoint representatives to that board only to have to do it again when the ASB legislation was passed.

"The general feeling from everyone was ‘let’s get on with it," he added.

Fort Frances, Emo, Atikokan, Rainy River, Chapple, and Morley were represented at yesterday’s meeting, with no one from the unincorporated areas showing up.

"They were all invited," Mayor Witherspoon said.

Both Kenora and Rainy River Districts sent ASB proposals to the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines to oversee the delivery of district-wide services, such as public health, land ambulance, social housing, welfare, and long-term care.

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