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MP Marc Serré brought great news last Friday, announcing nearly $400K in funding for the 2019 International Plowing Match and Rural Expo to be held in Verner. Shown are organizing committee members and local politicians and partners celebrating the news: (left to right) committee chair Neil Fox, St-Charles mayor Paul Schoppmann, WN Director of Economic Develpment Stephan Poulin, IPM Coordinator Catherine Levac-Lafond, a Science North representative, comittee members Tom Lambert, Daniel Olivier, Amy Schoppmann, Cynthia Guindon and Jovette Morin Gaudette, MP Marc Serré and WN council members Guilles Tessier, Mayor Joanne Savage, Normand Roberge and Leo Malette.
by Isabel Mosseler
Approximately 35 people gathered at the municipal offices in Verner last Friday, April 6, for two major funding announcements for the 2019 International Plowing Match and Rural Expo (IPM). Nickel Belt MP Marc Serré created a buzz when he announced federal support to the tune of $191,250 on behalf of Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, Navdeep Bains, who is also responsible for FedNor. Serré also announced matching funds from the province, on behalf of the Hon. Michael Gravelle, Minister of Northern Development and Mines and Chair of the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC). The two contributions total a whopping $382K, which will kick IPM preparations into high gear as West Nipissing prepares to host the huge event in September of next year.
Serré said he was very pleased to be back in West Nipissing, and particularly Verner, to acknowledge the work that local people have been putting into planning the event. “The first thing I did when becoming an MP was visit with mayors and councils to understand their priorities. As municipal councilors, you hear a lot about garbage pick-up and sewers… Now with the IPM, you’re looking at 80-100 thousand people coming to Verner. …[The IPM] will be smack in the middle of a federal campaign, so I’m working hard to get Mr. Prime Minister to come out,” he stated.
The IPM is North America’s largest outdoor agricultural and rural expo, running over 5 days every fall. It has only been in northern Ontario once before, in Earlton in 2009. Serré should have no trouble getting Justin Trudeau to attend, as the Prime Minister has brought his entire family to past IPMs.
This first round of funding is to hire more staff and proceed with marketing – and there will be more to come as plans advance. Serré said the next step was to develop partnerships, as he highlighted the presence of a Science North representative, showing the event will draw from neighbouring cities and communities and require a collective effort. “Timmins, North Bay, Sudbury, and also Ottawa – how do we get people from the agricultural communities?” he asked, noting that he has been speaking to fellow MPs, many who are familiar with the IPM. Serré also noted that he’s expecting further funding applications, as the event requires a lot of infrastructure to accommodate the expected crowds. “Putting this project in place requires marketing and infrastructure; Dan [Olivier’s] property might need some infrastructure funding, and that’s part of the role that FedNor plays.”A