ARTICLE BY SUE DICKENS – CENTRAL HASTINGS NEWS
MARMORA — The green light has been given by the Municipality of Marmora and Lake to pave the way for a ServiceOntario outlet at the local tourism centre, 9 Matthew St., after council approved a recommendation to sign a five-year contract with the government.
The decision was made at their council meeting on March 21
The contract is with the Ministry of Government Services.
Megan Abraham, manager of economic development and tourism — whose office is in the municipal tourism building at that location — told the Central Hastings News that, “We haven’t signed anything yet, but we had a site visit from ServiceOntario, and the visit was very positive.”
Abraham adds that the next step is for the government to provide the contract. “We fill in the key details and wait for their final approval.”
It’s been a long process which began following the closure of the former ServiceOntario site on Forsyth Street, where it was operated by an independent business.
“ServiceOntario did provide an opportunity for local business to put in an application to house a centre, and we received some applications, but the government didn’t feel the businesses that applied met the criteria they are looking for,” explained Abraham.
The list of requirements includes such items as accessible washrooms and an accessible front door, “which they really stress, and we have plenty of parking and can meet the hours they require.”
Mayor Terry Clemens talked about the ongoing plans to bring ServiceOntario back to Marmora.
“From a personal point of view, I don’t mind saying I would sooner see it in private enterprise; but if that’s not to be, the fact of life is the people of the community need a ServiceOntario office here.”
Mayor Clemens commented on the ServiceOntario site in Campbellford, which opened in April 2015. “I happened to use it myself. It is a well-run operation, a good operation.” It, too, is located in a municipal building — one owned by the Municipality of Trent Hills which houses the centre and the Trent Hills Chamber of Commerce.
“It will bring traffic to town and be a place for the public to get served,” said Mayor Clements.
The centre will provide all the services any other sites provide including driver’s licences, health cards, licence plates and so on.
Abraham offered her perspective on the need for the ServiceCentre in town.
“I think Marmora has taken a bit of a blow in the last couple of years. We lost our bank and lost our ServiceOntario site. I think it is incredibly important to keep that service in our community.”
She added, “We’re hoping it will open this summer. We want it to be operating as soon as possible.”