2023 ROMA Conference Draws Record Number of Rural Municipal Leaders
Election of Zone Representatives and Selection of Board Executive Caps Off Event.
The 2023 Rural Ontario Municipal Association (ROMA) Conference, held in Toronto from January 22 to 24, drew a record of more than 1,500 participants from across rural Ontario.
Rural officials raised local priorities with the provincial government, fostered partnerships and learned about new opportunities. Themed “Breaking New Ground” the conference reflected ROMA’s advocacy work on priorities such as housing and economic growth. The event featured dozens of speakers, sessions and workshops across a broad range of municipal responsibilities.
Members also elected their new zone representatives to the 2023-2027 ROMA Board – with more than 30 candidates running for ten zone spots on the Board.
In addition to these elected zone representatives, the Board is also comprised of four members of the Rural Caucus of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO Board). The newly formed Board also selected the Board Executive.
Mayor Robin Jones will return as Chair of the Board. Returning Board members Mayor Christa Lowry was elected 1st Vice Chair and Sandra Datars Bere was elected 2nd Vice Chair. The following officials were elected to be Zone Representatives on the Board:
- Zone 1 - Jamie McGrail of Municipality of Chatham-Kent
- Zone 2 - Steve McCabe of Township of Wellington North
- Zone 3 - Dave Beres of Town of Tillsonburg
- Zone 4 - Christina Early of Town of Caledon
- Zone 5 - Pam Sayne of Minden Hills
- Zone 6 - Jennifer Murphy of County of Renfrew
- Zone 8 - Christa Lowry of Mississippi Mills (acclaimed, also serving as 1st Vice Chair)
- Zone 9 - Mark Wilson of The Corporation of the City of Temiskaming Shores
- Zone 10 - Janet Hager of Municipality of Red Lake
In addition to Jones and Datars Bere of St Thomas, Peter Emon of the Town of Renfrew and Rainey Weisler of the Municipality of Bayham also serve on the ROMA board as AMO Rural Caucus members. The Zone 7 representative spot remains vacant and will be filled through a Board-approved process.
“We know our rural communities are full of promise and untapped potential. The conference showcased innovative ideas and solutions based on real-life experience that we could all takeaway to our communities,” Jones said. “Our board represents a combination of new and returning members. We’re all looking forward to partnering with the Ontario Government and finding creative solutions that will suit the diversity of rural communities across our great province.”
During the conference, Lisa Thompson, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs opened the next intake of the Rural Economic Development program.
ROMA takes pride in promoting, supporting and enhancing strong and effective rural governments. About 270 of Ontario's 444 municipalities have populations of less than 10,000, while scores more are rural in character. The rural arm of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, ROMA advocates for policies and programs that will help build thriving rural Ontario communities.