Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne will be answering questions from the public during a luncheon in Niagara Falls Tuesday.
Any guesses what the No. 1 topic will be?
“Hydro?” says Mishka Balsom, president of Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce, which co-sponsors the event with the Niagara Industrial Association.
“I foresee a number of questions on this. Hydro is a very big one and I think it’s going to be the number one (issue).”
The luncheon takes place at Scotiabank Convention Centre from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. After a short address, Wynne will open the floor to business members and members of the public.
While Balsom expects questions about Ontario’s debt, housing intensification, and cap and trade to surface, swelling hydro rates will likely dominate the conversation.
“It’s a huge problem, and it’s spilling over from the business community to residential concerns,” she says. “From 2004 to now, the electricity prices in Ontario have gone (up) 375 per cent.”
Two weeks ago, Wynne was booed by a crowd at the opening ceremonies of the International Plowing Match in Minto, Ont. Balsom isn’t sure what the reaction will be in Niagara Falls, but is thrilled Wynne is willing to hear firsthand from Niagara’s business community.
“There’s a place for good conversation, and a way to communicate one’s concerns,” she says. “It’s a hot-button item people are concerned about, and emotions could run strong and high on this particular issue. We’re aware of that.
“But I think Niagarans always have shown they have good communication skills and the ability to get their point across. We hope that will continue, but we’re aware this is a really intense issue.”
Balsom says the luncheon comes after extensive conversations with Niagara’s business community to pinpoint their concerns.
“In an effort to effect change, we need a dialogue with the current provincial government.”
Tickets for the event are $45, available at www.gncc.ca.