Tag Archives: OMAFRA

Join the team and offer your First Impressions of our exchange community

People who visit our community for the first time can offer fresh perspectives and unique insights about our services, accommodations and tourist attractions. The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) offers the First Impressions Community Exchange (FICE) program, where you can tap in to these insights.   By taking part in this program, we get paired up with another community and see what kinds of first impressions the Village makes when people visit for the first time.  What we learn can help us find ways to better attract tourists, residents and investors.

Our application to be part of FICE has been accepted and we have been paired with another community. We are recruiting and need four more volunteers, who will receive training from OMAFRA.  Our volunteers will:

•travel to our partner community to anonymously make observations

•record their feedback in a survey during the visit

Your costs for travel, accommodations and meals will be covered.

The exchange visits are where volunteer teams visit their exchange community and note observations in order to prepare a report back.  The evaluation of Westport by the other team will include:

Evaluate and get insights about:

◦services that make our Village visitor-friendly (access to transportation, information centres, signage, location of attractions)

◦physical spaces (historic sites, buildings and entrances)

◦community services (housing, education, jobs, health)

◦businesses, retail stores and restaurants

◦natural areas (harbour, parks and walking paths)

Evaluate how we serve visitors and get insights about:

◦what makes us visitor-friendly (access to transportation, information centres, signage, location of attractions)

◦tourist attractions (landmarks, events)

◦natural areas (parks, cycling and walking paths)

Evaluate our downtown area and get insights about:

◦the look and feel of downtown areas

◦businesses, retail stores and restaurants

◦entertainment (events, festivals, arts and culture activities)

If you are interested in being part of the Westport exchange team, pls email Councillor Gerald Schwinghamer at gswestport@gmail.com.  The First Impressions training will occur on Tuesday, Mar. 27 at 10 am at the Town Hall in the second floor meeting room.

I think this sounds like fun and encourage you to be part of it!

Call anytime – 9195

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Update on OCIF3 application

On Thursday, CAO Snyder and I had a teleconference with staff from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) and Ministry of Infrastructure (MOI).  OMAFRA has the responsibility of assessing the OCIF3 applications and deciding which are successful.   The meeting was frustrating to say the least.  We were told that our situation is not “critical enough” when weighed against the merits of all of the projects and our financial ability to pay.  A new financial consideration this year is just that … the project cost per household … and ours wasn’t enough to bump the project up into the successful category. Seriously!!!!  They said it was a very well written and concise application that thoroughly explained the project and our situation in the Village.  However, at the end of the conversation with these Ministry staff, there was still no OCIF money or any other support for Westport from the provincial government.  They suggested we try again in 2018, however were quick to say that there was no guarantee that we would be successful.

I was clear that we don’t have “next year” for getting a grant for this project.  Council has decided that it is necessary, for a variety of reasons, to build the new waste water treatment system in 2017.

The Minister of Infrastructure’s office called on Thursday and CAO Snyder and I are meeting with him in Toronto in mid-April.  MPP Steve Clark, who has continued to work on our behalf, will be attending the meeting with us.  It is my hope that, being a former municipal politician, the Minister will see things less through a bureaucratic lens and more from your perspective – the real people who live and work in Westport.

As always, if you have any questions, please call me or any of the members of Council.