Mi­nis­ter Du­guid gets ear­ful on UCPR goals

Vision (Canada) - - Actualites | News - GREGG CHAMBERLAIN gregg.chamberlain@eap.on.ca

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.

—pho­to Vi­cky Char­bon­neau

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.

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