Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association - NOMA 2024 Conference Presentations
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Conference Presentations

NOMA is pleased to present our exciting agenda for the 2024 Conference & AGM!

You will discover the presentations aim to align with our theme "Building a Brighter Future" with a focus on economic development across the region. The presentations will provide you with useful knowledge regarding driving industry growth, economic development opportunities, partnerships and the region's future growth.

Our agenda includes presentations from the following organizations:


Please click on the link to access the agenda: 2024 NOMA Conference & AGM Agenda 


The following ministers have confirmed their participation in the Ministers Forum on April 30th from 11:00 - 12:00 pm:

2024 Minister Forum VIDEO


Hon. Paul Calandra, Minister of Municipal Affairs & Housing

Paul Calandra is the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Minister of Legislative Affairs, Government House Leader, and the Member of Provincial Parliament for Markham-Stouffville. Before being elected to the Ontario Legislature in 2018, Paul was a Federal Member of Parliament, serving as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage and later as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and to the President of the Queen's Privy Council.



Hon. Greg Rickford, Minister of Northern Development & Minister of Indigenous Affairs

The Honourable Greg Rickford was first elected to the Ontario Legislature as the MPP for Kenora — Rainy River in 2018 and re-elected in 2022. Over the past six years, he has served as the Minister of Northern Development and Minister of Indigenous Affairs. Minister Rickford also served Premier Ford as the Minister of Energy, the Minister of Mines, and the Minister of Natural Resources & Forestry, in addition to his current portfolios.


Hon. Jill Dunlop, Minister of Colleges, and Universities

Jill has been the member of provincial parliament for Simcoe North since 2018 and has served as the Minister of Colleges and Universities since 2021. Prior to being elected, Jill attended Western University, and later joined the faculty of Georgian College. With her experience at Georgian College, and as a mother of three postsecondary aged daughters who give her unique insights into the world of higher education. Through her experience building and fostering partnerships within the postsecondary education sector, Jill has successfully created the connections students need to receive on-the-job experience to kickstart their careers in the local community. 


Hon. Graydon Smith, Minister of Natural Resources & Forestry

Graydon Smith serves as Ontario's Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry and the Member of Provincial Parliament for Parry Sound-Muskoka. He was first elected as a Town of Bracebridge and District of Muskoka Councillor in 2006. In 2010 he was elected as Mayor of Bracebridge and from 2018 also served as Deputy Chair of the District of Muskoka. He is recognized for his leadership during devastating community floods in 2013 and 2019. As Minister, Graydon Smith has supported ground-breaking legislation to support innovation and reduce red-tape in Ontario's natural resource sectors. Furthermore, under Minister Smith, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry continues to expand natural disaster management for flooding and fire.

Hon. Lisa Thompson, Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

Lisa was first elected as the Member of Provincial Parliament for Huron – Bruce in October 2011. On June 18, 2021, she was proudly appointed Ontario's 40th Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs by Premier Doug Ford. Lisa was born and raised near Wingham in Huron County, and now lives near Teeswater on a farm that has been in her husband's family for over 120 years.

Hon. Michael Parsa, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services

In March 2023, Michael Parsa was appointed Minister of Children, Community, and Social Services by Premier Ford. Previously serving as Associate Minister of Housing, he worked tirelessly to solve the housing crisis. He was first elected as the Member of Provincial Parliament for Aurora-Oak Ridges-Richmond Hill in June 2018. Michael is dedicated to improving the lives of vulnerable individuals and families, children, and youth in both his community and across Ontario.

Hon. Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education


Below you will find a description of some of the presentations included in the agenda!


Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Opening Prayer

by Elder Sheila DeCorte, Fort William First Nations.

screenshot--12-Biography: Sheila De Corte is an Ojibwe Elder and knowledge keeper from Animkii Wajiw (Thunder Mountain), which is more commonly known as Mount McKay located in Fort William First Nation in the Robinson Superior Treaty Territory of 1850. Her Spirit name is Niibin Giimiwan (Summer Rain), and she is from the Turtle Clan. Sheila was born and raised in the city of Fort William/Thunder Bay, Ontario. She retired from the Federal Public Service in January 2020 to allow her the freedom to feed her spirit by following her cultural path and to be afforded the free time to share her traditional knowledge and teachings with those who call upon her. She is a certified KAIROS Blanket Exercise Facilitator delivering over 500 years of History of Indigenous people from first point of contact to present day since 2015. Sheila is also a proud 2003 Confederation College Alumni. It was through Sheila's volunteer work with the Thunder Bay National Aboriginal Day Committee in 2000 that first introduced her to her first pow wow and to the heartbeat of the big drum. This began her pull and reconnection to her Anishinaabe way of living. She entered the pow wow circle in 2002 as a fancy shawl dancer and has since transitioned into a women's traditional dancer. She picked up her hand drum in 2014 and now sings with the “Sisters of Turtle Island” Women's Drum Group where songs, teachings, and knowledge are shared as well as the sharing of the group's community initiatives which support important indigenous community events. Her Anishinaabe way of living continues to pull her into many cultural related areas, which includes walking for the water to bring healing and awareness on the importance of protecting the water. She and other water walkers are fulfilling their promise to the late Grandmother Water Walker Josephine to continue the work she started for the water. Sheila shares awareness and teachings to support “For Love of the Rivers” water walks in Thunder Bay. Sheila also continues to build her relationship with the traditional medicines that she has learned about during her 4-year commitment studying under the guidance of Kathy Bird, Medicine Women, from Matootoo Lake Medicine Camp located in Peguis FN.


Leader Addresses

marit-stiles-headshotMarit Stiles, Leader of NDP

Marit Stiles is the Leader of the Official Opposition NDP, and the MPP for Davenport. Prior to being elected to this leadership role, Ms. Stiles was the Education Critic for the Ontario NDP. She's been a passionate advocate for local public schools as a parent, eventually running and winning a seat as a school trustee before entering provincial politics in 2018. Her career in public service, however, started decades ago when she started working in public policy and research.As the Leader of the Official Opposition NDP, Ms. Stiles is committed to winning more for Ontarians, creating more opportunities for all, and building stronger, more caring communities.

bonnie-crombie-cropped--2-Bonnie Crombie, Leader of Ontario Liberal Party

Bonnie Crombie is Leader of the Ontario Liberal Party. She was Mayor of Mississauga, Ontario's third-largest city, for three terms, where she was known for her visionary leadership to create jobs, build complete communities and celebrate diversity. A mother of three, she was a business executive and previously served as a Liberal Member of Parliament and as a City Councillor.

mike-schreiner-headshotMike Schreiner, Leader of Green Party

Mike Schreiner, leader of the Green Party of Ontario, became Ontario's first Green MPP when he was elected to represent the riding of Guelph in 2018. Leader of the Ontario Greens for more than a decade, Mike is known at Queen's Park as a champion for climate action, affordable housing, local food and water initiatives, protecting Ontario's farmland and green spaces, supporting frontline healthcare workers, and small business. He was re-elected in 2022 with an increased majority.


AMO Update

Click Here for Presentation.



Colin Best,  AMO President 

Presenters Biography: Halton Regional Councillor Colin Best has been involved in his community of Milton in many ways. He has served on Milton council for 35 years and Halton council for the past 21 years. He became AMO President in 2022. He previously chaired the AMO's Regional and Single-Tier Caucus for 6 years. He works locally as an independent property appraiser valuing residential properties for various lending institutions and other purposes.


Brian Rosborough, Executive Director

Presenters Biography: Brian Rosborough has been working in the public sector in Ontario for more than 30 years, including as AMO's Director of Policy from 2004 until 2009. Brian has worked as an advisor and manager in the Ontario Public Services and, more recently, for 8 years and a senior executive at Wilfrid Laurier University.Brian was appointed Executive Director of the AMO in September 2019.


MPAC: Sharing Property Insights and Meeting the Evolving Needs of our Northern Partners

Description: We invite you to join us for an informative session to learn how MPAC is working every day to support municipalities across Northwestern Ontario. During the session, we will share some recent operational highlights and areas of focus, local property insights and market trends, and tools and resources created with our municipal partners.

Click Here for Presentation.



Al Spacek, Board Chair

Presenters Biography: Mr. Spacek was elected Mayor of Kapuskasing in 2006 and was acclaimed for two more terms, retiring in December 2018. During his time as Mayor, he was a member of the Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities (FONOM) for twelve years,
serving as President for eight years until August 2018. He has served on numerous boards and executives including Kapuskasing and District Chamber of Commerce, Northeastern Ontario Municipal Association (NEOMA) and the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO). Mr. Spacek built his career as a respected entrepreneur, owning and operating a number of businesses, and continues to serve as an active member of the Canadian Professional Sales Association (CPSA).



Nicole McNeil, President & CAO

Presenters Biography: As President and Chief Administrative Officer, Nicole McNeill is advancing the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation as a leader in property market expertise in Ontario and around the globe. Nicole has close to 25 years of experience in the private and non-profit sectors and a passion for building diverse, high-performing, engaged teams. At MPAC, and in all her roles, Nicole is a strong advocate for equity, diversity, inclusion and anti-racism. In addition, she actively encourages a focus on mental health throughout the organization. These values underpin Nicole's devotion to cultivating a healthy work environment. Nicole also champions mentorship programs and has been a mentor in the Top 200 Management Program at Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson University) since its inception. She currently serves as Chair of the Board of Elexicon Energy Corporation. She also chaired an IT Advisory Panel as a Board member for the Canadian Urban Institute.


Carmelo Lipsi, VP & COO

Presenters Biography: Carmelo Lipsi is MPAC's Vice-President, and Chief Operating Officer, responsible for delivering quality assessments and exceptional customer service to Ontario property owners. He also leads the Municipal and Stakeholder Relations team that is responsible for strengthening relationships through proactive engagement with municipalities and stakeholders. Over his 25+ years in property assessment, Carmelo has applied his broad range of experience in operations and strategy development to provide innovative leadership to numerous corporate initiatives including the framework for the 2020 Assessment Update and 2020 Stakeholder Engagement Strategy. Carmelo has a Bachelor of Arts degree from York University and a Certificate in Real Property Assessment from the University of British Columbia. He has an M.I.M.A. Accredited designation from the Institute of Municipal Assessors. 


Building Municipal and Indigenous Partnerships

Presenters: Joe Moses, CEO of Netmizaaggamig Nishnaabeg & VP of Nokiiwin Economic Development Corporation

Vicki Blanchard, Blanchard & Associates

Presenters Biography: Vicki Blanchard has over 30 years experience in Economic Development and working with Municipalities and First Nation communities.  She has forged successful project partnerships with key business, industry and tourism / economic associations, government, and First Nations.  She has played an instrumental role in leading “Sharing Conferences” to provide a collaborative planning process wherein First Nations' communities and Municipalities could share with each other their existing planning processes to ensure that planning, land use, growth management and transportation strategies on or near First Nation settlement lands are compatible with neighbouring government strategies.  


Transportation Discussion

Description: Road safety has been an ongoing discussion amongst municipalities in Northern Ontario. Provincial highways have been of particular focus, but what about safety on municipal roads in your community? The panel will talk about how you can improve safety on municipal roads to benefit pedestrians, cyclists and motorists and Wendy Landry will provide insights into the recommendations from the Northern Transportation Task Force Report.

Click Here for Presentation.



Judy Dezell, Director AMO Enterprise Centre, Business Partnerships, LAS

Presenters Biography: Judy Dezell has over thirty years of policy and program experience, the last 19 years with Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO). Prior to joining AMO, Judy split the time working at two Ontario provincial ministries - Municipal Affairs and Housing and Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs. At AMO, Judy developed and delivered a nationally recognized municipal infrastructure program delivery model (formerly known as federal gas tax fund) on behalf of the Government of Canada. Judy is currently the Director of AMO Enterprise Centre, Business Partnerships and LAS. The role also has responsibility for ONE Investment in the capacity of Co- President/CEO. Judy's strength is identifying gaps in program/service for municipalities and providing innovative partnerships, programs or services to fill the gaps working with talented LAS and ONE teams. Judy has a Master of Science in Planning from the University of Toronto.


Key Advocacy Initiatives that represent Northern Issues



Andrew Siegwart, President & CEO, Tourism Industry Association of Ontario (TIAO)

Presenters Biography:  Andrew Siegwart is a seasoned leader with extensive experience in advocacy, community development, and strategic leadership. As former President and CEO of the Blue Mountain Village Association (BMVA), he drove exceptional advocacy results, fostering stakeholder coalitions and enhancing government relations. His tenure saw remarkable achievements, including increased member engagement, award-winning marketing programs, and regional economic development initiatives. Previously, as Senior Vice-President at the Retail Council of Canada (RCC), Andrew led diverse teams and spearheaded critical initiatives addressing labor supply and workforce development. Passionate about community development, Andrew volunteers his time to initiatives such as workforce and community housing development. He co-founded The LGBTQIA+ Rainbow Club of South Georgian Bay, promoting diversity and inclusion within the community and economy. Committed to advancing reconciliation, Andrew champions the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Calls to Action. As the new President & CEO of TIAO, Andrew Siegwart is dedicated to advancing the growth and sustainability of Ontario's tourism industry while aligning with important societal goals.

Driving Growth Together: Strategies for Northwestern Ontario's Tourism Economy

Description: Tourism is an industry driven by people and anchored within communities.  As such, community collaboration and engagement are critical to its sustainability.  In this session, tourism and service sector leaders will explore the current economic landscape and discuss key opportunities that will drive the growth of Northwestern Ontario's tourism economy.

Panelists will share insights on opportunities and barriers to growth, successful marketing strategies, tourism product development, successful partnership models, and best practices for collaborating with municipalities.  Further, panelists will examine the impact of the Municipal Accommodation Tax (MAT) framework on destinations and municipalities, highlight best practices for mitigating labor shortages, and touch upon the impact of transportation infrastructure gaps on future growth.  


Moderated by:


Andrew Siegwart, President & CEO, Tourism Industry Association of Ontario (TIAO)



David MacLachlan, Executive Director, Destination Northern Ontario

Presenters Biography: David is the current Executive Director for Destination Northern Ontario, the provincially funded regional tourism organization operating in Region 13 with a mandate to increase tourism receipts through product development, marketing, workforce development and industry training, and investment attraction. David grew up in the tourism industry and is the third generation to work in the family resource-based tourism business started over sixty-five years ago by his grandfather.


Paul Anthony Pepe, Manager, Tourism Thunder Bay, Thunder Bay Community Economic Development Commission

Presenters Biography: Paul Pepe is the Manager of Tourism Thunder Bay with the Thunder Bay Economic Development Commission and is passionate about Thunder Bay's full potential as one of Canada's premier outdoor destinations.   Paul has almost thirty years experience in the tourism sector and serves as Chair of Destination Ontario's Northern Marketing Committee and Chair of Attractions Ontario. Paul is co creator of Ride Lake Superior and is a champion for motorcycle tourism, Great Lakes cruise shipping development and inclusive destination development. 


Dan Bevilacqua, Executive Director, Superior Country 

Presenters Biography: Dan has served as the Executive Director of Superior Country since November of 2014. He is widely known for his passion and love for the region. Dan works tremendously hard to ensure that tourism stakeholders within the Superior Country region are well represented, advertised, and flourish as Superior Country members. In his free time Bevilacqua can be found fishing the Nipigon River, attending local events, or volunteering for many organizations, boards, and committees.


Todd Eastman, Director of Northern Partnerships & Marketing, Destination Ontario

Presenters Biography: Todd is Director of Northern Partnerships and Marketing with Destination Ontario, the province's provincial tourism marketing organization. With more than 25 years of work experience in Northern Ontario, Todd is well known in economic development and resource management circles including forestry, tourism and investment promotion. Todd currently leads a small team of talented individuals tasked with promoting avid tourism experiences and driving increased visitation to the region. He holds a graduate degree from the Faculty of Forestry, University of Toronto.  


Denise Atkinson

Presenters Biography: Denise Atkinson is Anishinaabe ikwe (Ojibwe Woman) and is a member of the Red Rock Indian Band, an Ojibwe First Nation in Northwestern Ontario. She is the Co-Founder of Tea Horse, an Indigenous woman-owned manoomin (wild rice) and artisanal tea company that has created and produces a first-of-its-kind wild rice tea. Tea Horse wild rice and exclusive tea blends are available to the wholesale, retail, and consumer markets across Canada and parts of the US. 


Northwestern Ontario's Energy Future: Empowered Communities 

Description: Electricity demand in Ontario is forecasted to rise by 60 percent over the next 25 years driven by changing consumer preferences and population growth, as well as increased electrification of transportation, heating and industrial processes. In this 30-minute session, the Independent Electricity System Operator will provide an overview of the important roles and responsibilities that communities have in supporting Ontario's energy future, and share upcoming electricity planning activities in Northwestern Ontario. 



Carla Y. Nell, Vice-President, Corporate Realtion, Stakeholder Engagement and Innovation, IESO

Presenters Biography: Carla Y. Nell currently serves as the IESO's Vice-President, Corporate Relations, Stakeholder Engagement and Innovation. She is responsible for providing strategic leadership in the areas of communications, stakeholder engagement, government relations, and innovation, and managing and enhancing all relationships on behalf of the IESO – including with municipalities and Indigenous communities.



Ahmed Maria, Director of Transmission, IESO

Presenters Biography: Ahmed Maria currently serves as the IESO's Director of Transmission planning and leads the team responsible for identifying, based on electricity forecasts, the electricity transmission infrastructure that will be needed in the future. Ahmed's team is presently planning Ontario's electricity transmission system to not only meet near term needs but also to enable the longer term energy transition, which includes developing power system plans to support the actions outlined in the Ontario Government's Powering Ontario's Growth plan.


Thursday, April 25, 2024


Value of Hydro Electric Power

Description: Discussion on the Future of Hydro Electric Energy and the importance it holds in Northwestern Ontario. 

Click Here for Presentation.



Ahmad Al-Ali, Director, Hydro Business Development 

Presenters Biography:  Ahmad Al-Ali is the Director of Hydro Business Development at OPG. Ahmad leads OPG's efforts in developing untapped hydro potential in Northern Ontario including greenfields, including existing generating station upgrades, hydro advocacy, and broader system integration. Ahmad has firsthand knowledge of the hydroelectric and the broader utility industry and has worked in engineering, operations, asset, and project management progressive roles. Ahmad has a Bachelor of Engineering degree from McMaster university and holds a Master of Engineering from the University of Waterloo.


Paul Norris, President, Ontario Waterpower Association

Presenter Biography: Paul Norris is the President of the Ontario Waterpower Association (OWA), a non-government organization established in May 2001 that represents the collective interests of the province's waterpower industry. Under Paul's leadership, the OWA has grown to include over one hundred and fifty (150) members with a shared commitment to the advancement of environmentally sustainable economic development and resource management. Paul has a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Toronto and is a graduate of Ryerson's Public Administration Program. He holds an MBA from Queen's University and the Certified Association Executive designation. 



Description: This will be a presentation on leadership and DNA.



Liana Frenette, CEO, TBT Engineering Ltd.

Presenters Biography: Liana Frenette is CEO of TBT Engineering Limited, an employee-owned consulting engineering company. Their head office is located here in Thunder Bay, Ontario. The company employs up to 200 full-time and seasonal professional and technical employees throughout Ontario. Liana has been actively involved for over 30 years in all aspects of business and has received several technical certifications as well as designed many internal policies, processes and training programs. Liana remains committed to the communities where they work and truly believes the experts and skills exist and can come from the local community. Liana and her teams are strong community supporters and local communities benefit through direct support as well as economic development, employment and training opportunities.


Economic Development Opportunities for Northwestern Ontario

Description: FedNor is committed to continued collaboration with Northern Ontario municipalities to promote place-based solutions to government priorities including greening the economy, inclusive growth, critical minerals, and Indigenous economic reconciliation.

Click Here for Presentation.

Cliquez ici pour la présentation. 



Valerie Gideon, President, FEDNOR

Presenters Biography: Dr. Valerie Gideon is a member of the Mi'kmaq Nation of Gesgapegiag, Quebec and a proud mother of two young girls.

She currently holds the position of President of the Federal Economic Development Agency for Northern Ontario and Deputy Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs.  From 2020-2023 she was the Associate Deputy Minister of Indigenous Services Canada and prior to that from 2018-2020, she was the Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, First Nations and Inuit Health Branch (FNIHB), Indigenous Services Canada. 


Addressing the Health Care Crisis in Northwestern Ontario

Description: Drs.  Verma and Prowse are proposing to provide an update regarding the expansion and leadership transition. The presentation will consist of three sections:

  • Successes with admissions, recruitment and retention.
  • Ongoing challenges with HHR in NWO.
  • The transition in leadership and what's next for the university.

Click Here for Presentation.



Dr. Sarita Verma, President, Vice Chancellor, Dean & CEO of NOSM University 

Presenters Biography: Dr. Sarita Verma is the President, Vice Chancellor, Dean, and CEO of the Northern Ontario School of Medicine University (NOSM U). She was the Vice President, Education at the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada. Formerly the Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at U of T she is a family physician who originally trained as a lawyer at the University of Ottawa (1981) and later completed her medical degree at McMaster University (1991). She is a leader and change maker.


Dr. Owen Prowse, Vice-President, Clinical Partnerships and Hospital Relations of NOSM University

Presenters Biography: A practising surgeon in Thunder Bay, Dr.Owen Prowse has over three decades of medical expertise. Formerly serving as the Assistant Dean Admissions at NOSM-NOSM University, Dr. Prowse facilitated significant transformations in the MD Admissions process. His work nationally has helped to inform equitable and socially accountable admissions practices into the health professions. Dr. Prowse is a graduate of the University of Toronto and The Johns Hopkins University. His academic interests include medical education and surgical oncology.


Rural Ontario Medical Program: The Next Generation of Healthcare Professionals

Description: This session will provide information on the Rural Ontario Medical Program, and how it can contribute to the development in accessing health care and health care professional in Northwestern Ontario. 



Michelle Hunter, Program Manager, Rural Ontario Medical Program (ROMP)

Presenters Biography: Michelle Hunter currently holds a leadership position with the Rural Ontario Medical Program, a provincially funded organization putting patients first by combining innovative practices in medical education and community integration. By facilitating high quality experiences for patients, communities, preceptors and learners, Michelle leads a team to be the partner of choice for inspiring the next generation of healthcare professionals in provincial communities. Michelle attended McMaster University and York University for undergraduate education and completed her Master of Science in Chicago. In 2016, Michelle attended Harvard Medical School and completed the Safety Quality Informatics and Leadership Program. In 2021, Michelle completed as part of the inaugural class in the joint MIT / Harvard program, Developing Healthy Communities. Michelle is a Board Member for the Rural Ontario Institute, Council of Faculties of Medicine Distributed Medical Education Committee, as well Chair of Canadian Chapter of the American College of Healthcare Executives. Michelle has completed a number of research projects and presented at many national and provincial meetings on topics with Distributed Medical Education and Retention. Michelle currently has had an appointment on the board of the Georgian Bay Family Health Team, and serves as ex officio on many community recruitment committees Michelle started her career in program management, implementation and training design with organizations such as the Ministry of Correctional Services, Canadian Department of National Defense and private sector corporations.


Ontario's Forestry Industry Update

Description: Update on the forest industry (roads, caribou, etc)



Ian Dunn, President and CEO, Ontario Forestry Industry Association (OFIA)

Presenters Biography:  Ian has a long history in Ontario's natural resource sector. Before the OFIA, he worked as a consulting forester and environmental scientist, undertaking projects for clients in the oil and gas, mining and exploration, nuclear energy, government, and forestry sectors. 

Since joining the OFIA in 2015, Ian has served in various forestry, manufacturing, and environmental policy roles. Appointed as the OFIA's President & CEO in 2021, Ian currently oversees Association strategy, governance, public relations, and business administration. Working closely with Association membership, Ian developed a comprehensive strategic plan for the OFIA, representing a new direction and approach for the Association.

Ian is a registered professional forester and has been a full member of the Ontario Professional Foresters Association since 2013. He lives in Toronto with his wife and two children.


NWMO Update

Description: Joanne Jacyk will give an update on the siting process for a deep geological repository for Canada's used nuclear fuel. She will speak to her background in environmental protection, as well discussing nuclear safety, the 10-year regulatory process that would take place before construction of a deep geological repository, and how the Northwest would benefit from this major environmental infrastructure project.



Joanne Jacyk, Site Director- Ignace, Nuclear Waste Management Organization

Presenters Biography: Joanne Jacyk is the Site Director, Ignace, with the NWMO. She joined the NWMO in 2009 and previously held the role of Manager, Environment Program. Prior to joining the NWMO, Ms. Jacyk worked for nearly 10 years in consulting, designing and leading environmental studies, monitoring programs, site investigations, remediation, and impact assessment across various sectors, including mining, waste management, and nuclear. Ms. Jacyk holds a degree in Biosystems‎ Engineering from the University of Manitoba and a Master of Environmental Science from the University of Toronto.‎ Ms. Jacyk is a registered Professional Engineer licensed in Ontario and is a Certified Professional Facilitator. She has presented widely across the Northwest as well as internationally to discuss the safe long-term management of used nuclear fuel and consent-based siting processes. 


Energizing Life for People and Communities

Description: In this session, we will be learning about the importance of electricity transmission as well as utility serving from Hydro-One and how this is essential for people and communities. 



Alexandra Moskalyk- Senior Manager, Community Relations

Presenters Biography:  As Hydro One's Senior Manager, Community Relations and Strategy, Alex Moskalyk leads a team of professionals responsible for community relations, strategic communications and community and stakeholder relations through all stages of capital projects and sustainability work. She works with various functional teams across the organization to ensure large energy infrastructure projects are planned, developed and constructed with support from local leaders and the broader community. Prior to her appointment, Alex worked for Enbridge Gas as well roles with Ontario's Minister of Natural Resources and Minister of Revenue.

Alex is responsible for broad and project-specific community relations, and community and stakeholder consultations, ensuring Hydro One's plans are meaningfully socialized with communities and that community needs are advocated for within the company. Developing and building on relationships across all communities, stakeholders, regulators and elected bodies, Alex takes a proactive strategic approach and has a keen appreciation for the importance of actively developing and sustaining relationships with government and key stakeholders. In her spare time, Alex owns and operates a successful family photography business; loves travelling, reading, cooking and being a mother to her two young boys. She holds a Masters of Arts in Political Science from the University of Western Ontario.


The State of Canadian Politics

Description: She will share a behind-the-scenes look at the inner workings of Ottawa and today's political landscape.



Althia Raj, Award-Winning Journalist

Presenters Biography: Althia Raj is a multiple award-winning journalist, ranked as one of the top 100 most influential people in Canadian politics by The Hill Times since 2015. She is currently a national columnist with the Toronto Star; the host/producer of the podcast, It's Political; and a regular weekly panelist on CBC's At Issue panel. Having worked at the heart of Canadian politics for more than a decade, Raj shares a behind-the-scenes look at the inner workings of Ottawa, the state of politics, and what it means for her audience.

Prior to the Toronto Star,  Raj was a national political reporter for Postmedia News and an Ottawa bureau reporter for QMI/Sun Media. She also worked as a network producer for CTV and an associate producer for CBC Radio's The House before joining Huffpost Canada in 2011. She served as their senior editorial manager and Ottawa bureau chief until its closure in 2021. In addition, Raj was a co-moderator of the 2022 Ontario election and a co-moderator of the 2019 federal election debate. She also organized and moderated a federal NDP leaders debate in 2017 and the 2018 Ontario PC leadership debate.

In 2022, Raj was awarded the John Wesley Dafoe Prize for Politics from the National Newspaper Awards. This was in recognition of her work covering the the Liberal's 2021 election campaign and the internal dynamics of the Conservative caucus that led to Erin O'Toole's removal as leader. Raj has also won several digital media awards for her multi-media election coverage in both English and French. Raj is a proud Parliamentary Internship Program alumna and graduate of McGill University. She serves on the Board of Trustees of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada and is a volunteer board member with the Ottawa Art Gallery.


Encouraging Youth to Consider Municipal Public Works

Description: Your local Public Works department provides invaluable services within your community. Without the dedicated public works employees that you are fortunate to have, many basic functions in your community would not be able to happen. Without maintained roads, your emergency services (police, fire and ambulance) would not be able to respond to calls, school buses could not run to get children to school and your residents would not be able to leave for work, school, appointments, children's extra-curricular and any other activity important to them. Public Works departments across the Province, and especially in the North competing with private sector jobs, have already begun to feel the impacts of labour shortages, and as we will begin to see a large number of retirements from our public works departments across the Province the shortage will become even more exasperated. Over the last year, AORS has been dedicating much of our advocacy to encouraging youth to consider careers in public works through career fairs, local government presentations to students, developing printed resources for guidance counsellors and much more. AORS has also been working closely with in order to develop a Municipal Operator Course that would train potential municipal equipment operators to come to your municipality with the basic knowledge they need to begin maintaining your core infrastructure. This would be the first course of its kind that would attract potential students from across the Province of Ontario.


Joe Reid,  Marketing and Communications Specialist, Association of Ontario Road Supervisors (AORS)


Kelly Elliot, Marketing and Communications Specialist, Association of Ontario Road Supervisors (AORS)

Presenters Biography: Kelly Elliott is a former elected official having been elected as a Councillor for the Municipality of Thames Centre in 2014, and again as Deputy Mayor in 2018. She also served as a Councillor for the County of Middlesex and served as a Director on both Good Roads and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (including Vice-Chair as the Municipal Infrastructure and Transportation with FCM). Leveraging her past marketing and municipal experiences, she has landed in a perfect spot with the Association of Ontario Road Supervisors (AORS) as their Marketing and Communications Specialist, advocating and working for municipal public works departments from across the province.


Building Brighter Futures with Data

Description: Showcasing how CRIBE is using data to drive regional economic development in Ontario. We have been and continue to share & collaborate with municipal economic developers to showcase the opportunity for investment in Northwestern Ontario. We have been developing free & open tools on our platform to highlight economic opportunities using spatial data from the province & our partners. These tools are hosted on our forest EDGE platform & are openly available to the public. Along with the work we do within our network to encourage innovation across the bio-economy we are working hard to do business-to-business matching and investment attraction support for communities. Bio-Economy is a growing opportunity for investment as much of provincial & federal policy is encouraging a Net Zero approach for businesses. This drive can be of massive benefit to Northwestern Ontario & we are using spatial data to showcase that!

Click Here for Presentation.



Sarah Benčić, GIS Innovation Coordinator, CRIBE

Presenters Biography: Sarah is a multi-disciplinary GIS and environmental professional with a great eye for cartography, design, and compelling analysis. Sarah's professional background experience in the Silviculture, Forestry, and Energy sector has brought diverse experiences & perspectives to her work. Sarah is passionate about working with our NextFor partners to configure new tools and datasets that support geospatial decision-making with our partners in Ontario and around the world.


Connecting Communities: Networking Session

Description: This session will give communities an opportunity to network and discuss success stories and how you are working to address challenges in your communities.



Councillor Eric Pietsch of the Municipality of Greenstone

Presenters Biography: Eric K. Pietsch Geraldton ward councillor for the Municipality of Greenstone, second term NOMA board member, second term TDML board member. President of Pietsch Holdings Inc O/a Daneff's Food Market located in Geraldton, President Pietsch Group Inc. General Contracting Firm operating from Port Elgin to the Manitoba border with Project Managers strategically located in Timmins, Sudbury, North Bay, Dryden, and Sault Ste. Marie. Husband to Sherri Pietsch and proud Step Father to her 3 adult Children.


CAO Succession Planning

Description: The CAO (Clerk-Treasuer) is a crucial position for municipalities. This session will provide tips & good practices for Councils looking to recruit and staff considering becoming a CAO.

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Scott Vokey,  OMAA Executive Director

Presenters Biography: Scott Vokey is communications and policy strategist driving sustainability and local democracy initiatives. He is currently the Executive Director of the Ontario Municipal Administrators' Association.


Social Engineering and Cyber Insurance- The 2024 Reality for Municipalities

Description: Information is a valuable commodity and municipalities need to protect their information. In this session, we will be learning about social engineering and the importance of cyber insurance in this day and age. 

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Jessica Jaremchuk, Vice President, Risk Management Services, Intact Public Entities

Presenters Biography: Jessica Jaremchuk is the Vice President, Risk Management Services with expertise in Municipal & Public Administration risk management, risk consultations, contract, and legal reviews. Jessica delivers many educational seminars on various risk issues across Canada. She has a B.A. from the University of Western Ontario and is also a graduate of the University of Western Ontario's Faculty of Law.


The Power of Partnerships

Description: This presentation provides a look at how an academic institution can work with community partners and industry partners to customize training to employment. Implementing calls to action around community prosperity, access and success and indigenous learning.

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Carol Cline, Dean, Workforce Development, Confederation College

Presenters Biography: Carol Cline is the Dean of Workforce Development at Confederation College, the department provides literacy and basic skills upgrading, employment services, customized industry-specific training and post-secondary programs through eight regional campuses. Prior to this, she was an executive director of a medium-sized mental health agency and has 25 years of experience in Post Secondary Education. The last 7 years she has been responsible for oversight of several large training strategies for the mining, forestry and health sectors here in Thunder Bay and throughout Northwestern Ontario.


Municipal Growth Framework

Description: Municipalities are responsible for maintaining and delivering most of the infrastructure and services that support Canadians in their daily lives. However, municipalities are struggling to fund these services under a 19th-century revenue framework that was never designed for the realities of the 21st century. To ensure that Canada's growth is successful, FCM has been calling for a new Municipal Growth Framework. It's time to equip municipalities with diverse, adequate and predictable sources of revenue that can support the quality of life that Canadians rightfully expect in their communities.

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Rachel Rizzuto, Rural and Northern Policy Officer, Policy and Public Affairs, FCM

Presenters Biography: Rachel Rizzuto is the Rural and Northern Policy Officer for the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. Originally from the United States, she has pursued the study of community and economic development, an enthusiasm borne out of travel throughout rural and urban China. With a demonstrated history of working in the research field, Rachel provides a broad range of policy expertise that helps support rural, northern and small communities to grow. 


From Risk to Resilience: Charting the Course for Rural and Urban Development 

Description: This session will touch on the impact of climate and disaster risks must be addressed through a multi-sectoral lens to manage these challenges and support resilient urban and rural development effectively


Colliers Project Leaders

Moderated by:


Wesley Bova, Principal, Colliers Project Leaders

Presenters Biography: Wes is a professional engineer with over 20 years of experience advocating for indigenous infrastructure and critical capital projects. During this time, he developed invaluable experience as a senior manager and board member of the Ontario First Nations Technical Services Corporation. He is a status member of the Mohawks of Akwesasne.



 James Heigh, Managing Principal, Colliers Project Leaders

Presenters Biography: James is the Managing Principal in Colliers Project Leaders' Kelowna office. He is an expert in various construction methodologies and can provide clients with detailed analysis and recommendations on how best to approach projects. With over 20 years of progressive learning and leading in business, emergency management and construction industries, James is an operational expert.


Kerri Marshall, P. Eng., MBA, FEC, City of Thunder Bay

Presenters Biography: Kerri is the General Manager of the Infrastructure, Development & Operations Department for the City of Thunder Bay where she oversees the delivery of Roads, Parks, Water, Wastewater, Solid Waste, Development, Engineering and Fire Rescue Services.  Kerri holds a Bachelor of Engineering Degree (Civil) from Lakehead University, a Master of Business Administration from Royal Roads University and in 2013 was bestowed the honour of a fellowship from Engineers Canada in recognition of her contribution to the Engineering Profession.

Monica Budiselic,- Matawa First Nation

Presenters Biography: Currently serving in Fire and Emergency Management and have for over the past 25 years. Obtained the rank of Deputy Fire Chief, also serving as CEMC/Alternate in a Municipal Northern Rural Fire Department. Certified to NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) Fire Officer IV, the highest level. Worked extensively with many First Nations, Unincorporated Communities and Municipalities. Have attended multiple incidents utilizing the Incident Command System and attended mass evacuations utilizing the Incident Management System. Coordinated many parts beyond and established key foundations of changing some of the Emergency Management Profiles.


A New Era of Modular Construction: Solutions to the Housing Crisis

Description: An overview of current Modular Construction site preparation, transportation and installation. A solution to the current housing crisis!

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Chris Holland, Sales Manager – Thunder Bay Region, Smart Modular Canada

Presenters Biography: Born and raised in Thunder Bay, I have been the Sales Manager for the Thunder Bay Region since early 2023. His career began in the insurance industry where he was an independent road adjuster for 15 years then moved into home inspections and then into building modular homes.

He is married and has two kids, Reid who is a carpenter and Olivia who just graduated from the welding program at Confederation College.

Celebrating the North- Municipal Success Stories 

Description: This is our opportunity to recognize/celebrate NW Ontario municipalities by presenting some of the ways LAS has been working with them to help save them time/money (case studies of significant projects in the north). We would also do a light touch on some of the things we are currently working on to make municipal life easier (ASE,  cyber, digital tools, etc.).

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Judy Dezell, Director AMO Enterprise Centre, Business Partnerships, LAS

Presenters Biography:  Judy Dezell has over thirty years of policy and program experience, the last 19 years with Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO). Prior to joining AMO, Judy split the time working at two Ontario provincial ministries - Municipal Affairs and Housing and Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs. At AMO, Judy developed and delivered a nationally recognized municipal infrastructure program delivery model (formerly known as federal gas tax fund) on behalf of the Government of Canada. Judy is currently the Director of AMO Enterprise Centre, Business Partnerships and LAS. The role also has responsibility for ONE Investment in the capacity of Co- President/CEO. Judy's strength is identifying gaps in program/service for municipalities and providing innovative partnerships, programs or services to fill the gaps working with talented LAS and ONE teams. Judy has a Master of Science in Planning from the University of Toronto.


Friday, April 26, 2024


Labour Market Trends

Description: The presentation will focus on providing an analysis of the prevailing conditions within the labour market of the NWO region. I will delve into pertinent factors, such as demographic variations that could potentially influence forthcoming labour market dynamics, alongside exploring prevailing market trends and untapped labour reservoirs.

Click Here for Presentation.



Gary Christian, Executive Director, North Superior Workforce Planning Board

Presenters Biography: Gary Christian is the Executive Director of the North Superior Workforce Planning Board. He has over 35 years of service at the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training, and Skills Development and served over 17 years with the Royal Canadian Navy. He holds an MBA, an H.BA in Political Science-Law, and a BA in Political Science from Lakehead University. He is currently pursuing a degree in Economics. He received the City of Thunder Bay Citizens of Exceptional Achievement Award and the Canadian Armed Forces Medal of Service.


Attracting Youth to Municipal Government

Description: In this session, we will be looking at how to attract youth to municipal government from the perspective of young aspiring individuals. By understanding how to expand their interest in politics, leadership and governance. 



Sawyer Redden, Student Councillors, Township of Marathon 

Presenters Biography: Sawyer Redden is a grade 12 indigenous student currently attending Marathon High School.  Sawyer has been a Student member of the Marathon Town Council since October of 2023.  He enjoys travel, weight training and enjoying the outdoors.


Animki Courchene, Student Councillors, Township of Marathon

Presenter Biography: Animki Courchene, from Biigtigong First Nation going to school in the town of Marathon. Currently finishing grade 12 year at Marathon High School. Committed to going for an undergrad at Trent University in the Medical Professional stream. Have family in the past who were part of the political system and would like to gain knowledge in the realm of politics and leadership.


Henry Khamonde, AMO Youth Fellow

Presenters Biography: Henry Khamonde, of South Sudanese descent, was born in the downtown core of Toronto but raised in southeast Scarborough. Throughout his undergrad at the University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC), he majored in Health Studies (Population Health stream) and minored in Biomedical Ethics and Psychology. As an AMO Youth Fellow, Henry has a burning desire to converge his undergraduate studies with his interest in municipal politics and governance.


Agriculture is Economic Development

Description: This will be an interactive session that will provide tools, activities and resources to better understand how Agriculture can be an Economic Development in Your Community.  Given the importance to the economy, communities across Northern Ontario have identified agriculture as a leading economic development opportunity. This session will explore how to gauge community readiness, how to identify what is right for your community and to look at ways of supporting agriculture in the community from a municipal perspective. This presentation can be delivered with an interactive component that we use to encourage audience participation with a smart device.


Chloe Langlois, Economic and Business Advisor, Labour, Trade and Economic Development Branch, Ontario Ministry of Food, Agriculture, and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA)

Presenters Biography: 


MPs & MPPs:



Sol Mamakwa- Deputy Leader of NDP


MP Patty Hajdu- Thunder Bay-Superior North

The Honourable Patty Hajdu was first elected as the Member of Parliament for Thunder Bay—Superior North in 2015. She has served in the Federal Cabinet as Minister of Status of Women, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, Minister of Health, and is currently the Minister of Indigenous Services and Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Northern Ontario. Her core values centre around compassion, equity, and the conviction that Canada is stronger when everyone has a fair chance to succeed.


MP Eric Melillo- Kenora

Eric Melillo has been the Member of Parliament for the Kenora Riding since 2019.  He currently serves as the Conservative Shadow Minister for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Northern Ontario and has been working to deliver positive change for Northwestern Ontario by standing up to support infrastructure projects, supporting First Nations communities and creating better economic opportunities.


MPP Lise Vaugeois- Thunder Bay-Superior North



MPP Kevin Holland- Thunder Bay-Atikokan & PA to Minister of Mines

Kevin Holland has lived in the Thunder Bay District all of his life. He was Mayor of the Township of Conmee for 31 years, operated Holland Enterprises and was a member of the Emergency Services in Conmee for 27 years. During his time as Mayor he served on many boards and committees, including NOMA itself.
Kevin Holland was elected to the Progressive Conservative party in June of 2022 and has served in several positions, including his current position as Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Mines. Away from public service, Kevin enjoys the precious moments spent with his wife Lori, their two children, and their three grandchildren.


Time to Grow: Regional Economic Development Plan Feedback:


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