Minister Duguid gets earful on UCPR goals
Ontario’s minister of Economic Development had an afternoon sit-down session with all of the mayors of Prescott-Russell. Brad Duguid got a quick and detailed rundown on what kind of help would benefit all of the municipalities in the United Counties.
“These kind of face-to-face meetings with municipal leaders help guide us (ministry) in our choices for infrastructure programs at the provincial level,” stated Duguid during the Feb. 8 session. “With flexibility built into the programs, the municipalities can choose where the (support) money should go for their priorities.”
During the two-hour Wednesday meeting, the mayors and administration of the United Counties of Prescott-Russell (UCPR) listed more than half a dozen regional priorities for economic development assistance to all the communities and business sectors.
One of the key issues on the UCPR list was the lack of fair competition for local contractors with potential projects or clients in Québec. While Ontario allows Québec contractors to bid for jobs in this province, Ontario contractors are often prevented from bidding for contracts in Québec.
UCPR mayors condemned the situation, calling it both unfair to local contractors and also a drain to Ontario’s own economy because the Québec contractors working on projects here do not pay the Ontario provincial tax, and they and their workers also take the money made on the project, back to Québec where it is spent. They also noted that Ontario contractors who try to make a go in Québec also have to deal with the province’s unions that can be more aggressive on insisting on local hiring for local jobs.
Reasonable energy costs for both work and home were also on the list of issues from the UCPR.
All the mayors urged provincial support of expansion of natural gas service into more rural communities, to benefit both the agricultural sector and local small- and medium-sized businesses. The cost for electricity also came up; several mayors also told Duguid more work is needed to provide more electrical supply capacity for several large-scale agribusiness and tourism outfits, which want to expand their operations but cannot because they have no guarantee for the hydro.
Duguid received a reminder about the situation with the County Road 17/Highway 174-expansion proposal for the traffic connection between Rockland and Orléans/ Ottawa. Support for the recreational bike trail network in the UCPR was also brought up as support for the region’s eco-tourism sector.
Brad Duguid, ministre ontarien du Développement économique, a visité l’une des brasseries régionales indépendantes dont les produits ont fait découvrir la région de Prescott-Russell.