Keeping residents safe and having proper emergency response is one of many issues that will be brought forward in Ottawa over the next few days.

Thousands of local leaders across the province gather at what's shaping up to be one of the most anticipated events in municipal politics in some time.

“I don't think I've ever, in my 13 years, been to a conference this loaded,” says Leamington Mayor Hilda MacDonald.

She is one of 2,400 participants in Ottawa for the annual Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) conference.

Mayors, councillors and administration are able to directly connect with ministers and decision makers at Queen's Park. With the ford government committed to reining in spending in Ontario, this conference is more important than ever.

Tecumseh Mayor and Essex County Warden Gary McNamara, also a former AMO president, says there are concerns over public health spending and the future of the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund.

“Many municipalities that receive a lot of those dollars, if that's reduced dramatically, what impact is that going to have on their property tax base?” he wonders.

Chatham-Kent Mayor Darrin Canniff says despite cutbacks in provincial funding, his municipality will need help to address erosion of roughly 90 kilometres of shoreline.

“Collectively, between the federal, provincial, municipal governments we need to work together on that Lake Erie shoreline because it's beyond the means of the municipality to look after that,” he says.

McNamara says the conference offers an important opportunity to stress the need for less dramatic measures to control spending.

“It took us a long time to get to that point and we can't expect drastic reductions in transfers to municipalities and for us to continue to provide the level of services our residents deserve and expect.”

MacDonald also hopes to use the conference to raise the issue of policing.

"The assigned compliment, it's fine, it could certainly use more bodies. But when there's a complement of six, which is ours, if there is an incident in another OPP service community, our officers may be pulled," she says of the current arragment between Leamington and the OPP.