Hoeppner meets with local officials during tour 0
Portage-Lisgar MP Candice Hoeppner sits down with representatives with the Rural Municipality and City of Portage, as well as the Province, at a meeting Tuesday at the RM of Portage office. (Angela Brown, Portage Daily Graphic)
Portage-Lisgar MP Candice Hoeppner had a chance to drop in for a visit with local municipal officials Tuesday to find out more about some of their concerns.
As part of her tour of the riding, she met with City of Portage and Rural Municipality of Portage councils, as well as local MLA Ian Wishart, during a private session at the RM of Portage council chambers.
Hoeppner attended talks Tuesday and Wednesday at various communities in the riding and said the aim was to find ways to address some of the communities’ concerns.
"In some cases (there were) very specific questions that we are going to get back to individuals about," she said. "This is more just the time when we sit down behind closed doors. We talk about what they are doing ... and what our government is doing … It's all about relationship-building and working together as community leaders."
Some of the issues brought forward at the Portage meeting included the need for continued support for immigration programs. Specifically, there were questions raised about the future of the Provincial Nominee Program.
Hoeppner reassured stakeholders that the federal government isn’t making any changes to the Provincial Nominee Program, and that it realizes the importance of immigration to local business and the economy.
"I encourage individuals who have questions or concerns — whether it is on immigration or passports — any of those issues, to call our office," said Hoeppner, following the meeting. "We are happy to help them."
The need for more infrastructure funding was also raised at the meetings Hoeppner took part in on her tour.
"We have made the Gas-Tax (Fund) permanent for municipalities, and cities and towns," Hoeppner said. "I know that is something that is very much appreciated.”
The federal government is reported to be working with stakeholders on a long-term plan to replace the existing federal infrastructure agreement, which is set to expire in March 2014.
"We recognize the need for sustainable funding," Hoeppner said. "We want to work together with the provincial partners as well as the local leaders here. We can't do everything at the federal level, yet we also don’t want to see these municipalities over-burdened."
Coun. Terry Simpson said the RM expressed its concern about the need for more funding for rural water expansion at the meeting.
Portage Mayor Earl Porter said he found the meeting with the local MP helpful.
One of the issues he has been concerned about is the need for funding for nutrient removal upgrades.
“Nutrient removal is going to come to us in 2014-2015, so we wanted to know how the federal government is going to handle this,” he said.
“We kind of got some assurances that funding is going to be available in 2014,” said Porter. “That’s good; that saves us a lot of money.”
Overall, he said he was happy with the meeting with the MP.
“It was very productive,” he said. “It’s good to get everyone in the same room, and everyone on the same page.”