North Bay needs rural voice - Vrebosch

Bill Vrebosch

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North Bay Coun. Bill Vrebosch is looking to retain his position on the Rural Ontario Municipal Association’s board of directors.

Vrebosch, who has been a longtime zone representative on the ROMA board for Northern Ontario, is seeking re-election to the position for another term. If he’s successful, North Bay will have a voice at the ROMA table for the first time – at least in recent memory.

Council endorsed the move Tuesday by passing a resolution endorsing him for the position. The election will be held next month.

Vrebosch acknowledged some residents may wonder why the city would require a representative on a “rural” municipal association.

But, he said, the ROMA board includes representatives from larger centres such as Ottawa and Caledon, which – like North Bay – consist of rural areas without services like public transit. In addition, he said, most issues the group takes on are province-wide matters that would directly impact smaller cities such as North Bay, and Northern Ontario as a whole.

He pointed to issues like transportation, infrastructure and access to natural gas as examples.

“It’s another voice for North Bay at the provincial level,” said Vrebosch, noting there’s no cost to the city to be affiliated with the group or to have a council member serve on the board.

Vrebosch said much of the work related to the position is done via email. And he said ROMA covers expenses related to travel for meetings, which most often take place in Toronto.

ROMA is the rural arm of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO). According to ROMA’s latest call for nominations for zone representatives, the next term runs from 2019-2023.

The group is expected to meet eight times annually, although members may serve on sub-committees from time to time or be asked to be a ROMA representative on other’s committees.

Members are entitled to a per diem of $75 per day when attending meetings on behalf of ROMA business. The association will also reimburse travel expenses to board meetings, AMO board meetings and a summer retreat. Meal costs of up to $75 per day area also covered.

As a ROMA board member, Vrebosch also serves as an AMO rural caucus member. But he will be stepping down from that position if he is re-elected because Coun. Mac Bain, as an executive member of the Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities (FONOM), already has a role with AMO.

Bain was appointed by council Tuesday as the city’s representative on the FONOM executive for a another two years.

 

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