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VOCO Updates
Second Annual ODN Conference:
Fenelon Falls, June 11, 2005

     Tourists and cottagers weren't the only visitors to Fenelon Falls this past weekend. While the hot weather certainly brought people out of the city for some time in the city -- (umm yeah, ok it STILL sounds dumb) -- the point is while many came to the area to kick back, relax and enjoy the weather, there were others that came to the area to work.

     Guests from across the province arrived early Saturday morning at the Fenelon Falls High School, at VOCO's invitation, to the 2nd Annual ODN (Ontario Deamalgamation Network) Conference.

     For those that remember, it was just over one year ago that the ODN was created last May in Rockton, ON where a mandate was drafted, accepted and endorsed by the various municipalities across Ontario that were all laboring under the effects of forced amalgamations. (Full wording of the Mandate, was published in The Promoter last year, and can be viewed on VOCO's website at

     This year's Conference kicked off with welcoming remarks, and included numerous reminders of direct quotes made by Dalton McGuinty, Leader of the Official Opposition that have failed to hold water with Dalton McGuinty the Premier.

     Each municipality was then invited to briefly recap their events of the past year for the benefit of those in attendance, sharing what successes were achieved and which plans might be adaptable in other areas as well. Things ranging from a Justice' ruling on questionable campaign conduct to tractor convoys closing the 401 Highway. A red casket touring the Province to more petitions at Queens' Park.

     In addition to the community representatives, keynote speakers for the day included NDP Municipal Affairs Critic - Beaches & East York MPP, Michael Prue; ”Watchdog” columnist from the East York Mirror - Joe Cooper; and Editor of the Free Press Advocate from Ottawa - Doug Clark.

     Elected officials that showed their interest by their attendance included Chatham-Kent Municipal Councillor, Jim Brown; Ward 13 Councillor Audrey Holden and Ward 5 Councillor Faye McGee. I understand Ward 2 Councillor Ric McGee also dropped by.

     A special presentation was given to R.O.C.K. representative, Keith Hipkins for his unending efforts during the past year in keeping all members of the ODN updated in an ongoing, timely and regular manner. No small task when you are talking province-wide!

     Once the formalities of the day were dealt with and all in attendance had their energy recharged with another top-notch VOCO luncheon, brainstorming and networking filled the remaining hours of the Conference. Numerous strategies, concepts and ideas were presented, discussed and accumulated. Suffice it to say that despite the temperature, and in spite of the travel times faced by many - the length of the Conference was extended - a couple of times.

     Based on feedback received already, in just the short time since the Conference, these plans have all been taken home to the various municipalities and will be shared with others ensuring that the coming year will continue to garner even more results and achievements.

     To ANYONE that thought the issue has let up or gone away -- rest assured, (or be warned) -- not a chance! The heat is not just measureable by thermometer on a humid Saturday afternoon in June.

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