Days ahead of a debate featuring provincial party leaders and focusing on northern issues, officials say heightened security measures will be in place while authorities are aware of and are preparing for a protest at the debate site in downtown North Bay.
The debate is a featured event of the Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities annual conference being held in North Bay from May 9–11 and will be co-hosted by FONOM and NOMA (Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association).
Organizers also confirm the May 10 Capitol Centre debate will be broadcast and streamed live by YourTV North Bay at 1 p.m.
The debate will feature party leaders Steven Del Duca (Ontario Liberal), Premier Doug Ford (Ontario PC), Andrea Horwath (Ontario NDP) and Mike Schreiner (Ontario Green Party). With campaigning officially underway ahead of the June 2 election, the participants will focus the discussion on issues of regional importance.
FONOM President Danny Whalen says of the debate, "Many of the 154 communities in the North have a small population, and the debate provides a platform for our voices to be heard. We are pleased that the municipal organizations in Northern Ontario will hear directly from the provincial party leaders during the spring campaign."
Whalen adds, "FONOM gives us, as Northern municipalities, an excellent opportunity to work together to discuss areas like economic growth, housing and partnerships. It also provides the opportunity to form a unified regional voice to work with the Provincial Government.”
A deadline of Friday, May 6 at 4 p.m. is in place for the general public to purchase tickets to the debate. A limited number of balcony tickets remain. Those tickets, priced at $125 each, are for sale via the Capitol Centre website. The maximum number of tickets that may be purchased per customer is four.
According to organizers, the debate is a high-security event and all ticket-holder contact information will be shared with relevant police and security forces.
A planned action by regional labour leaders could see hundreds of protesters join an already large group of delegates, politicians, and members of the public expected to descend on North Bay's downtown, Tuesday afternoon.
There will be enhanced security protocols in place at the point of entry, which will include, but are not limited to, a search of personal belongings and other security screening measures. No bags are permitted. Attendees are asked to arrive early as entry to the event may be slowed due to the security protocols.
The Main Street East entrance to the Capitol Centre will be closed. The point of entry, Tuesday, for ticket holders will be the McIntyre Street East entrance. All ticket-holders must be seated by 12:30 p.m.
FONOM represents 110 municipalities from across northeastern Ontario and works to better municipal government in Northern Ontario and improve legislation respecting local government in the North. The FONOM Conference is held each year in a northern community and centres on topics of broader municipal interest.