Tran­sit cash boosted for area mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties

Strat­ford re­ceives an $8,000 bump to its share of the prov­ince’s gas tax fund

The Beacon Herald - - FRONT PAGE - GALEN SIM­MONS STAFF RE­PORTER

Strat­ford-area mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties will be get­ting roughly $785,000 for pub­lic tran­sit this year through the prov­ince’s gas tax fund.

Divvied up, Strat­ford will re­ceive $460,482, St. Marys and Perth South will re­ceive a com­bined $121,907, West Perth will get $70,947, Perth East will get $67,580, and North Perth will re­ceive $64,941.

“Trans­porta­tion, ever since I’ve been elected, has been an issue through­out the rid­ing, and this cer­tainly helps mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties that have buses or mo­bil­ity buses, or what­ever in place, and keep those ser­vices,” Perth-Welling­ton MPP Randy Pet­ta­piece said. “It helps them off­set the op­er­at­ing costs and what­ever else. It’s nice that the gov­ern­ment rec­og­nizes this and sends money our way.”

In Strat­ford, this year’s fund­ing rep­re­sents an in­crease of roughly $8,000, up from about $452,000 in 2018.

“This is good news for the City of Strat­ford and fur­ther sup­ports our on­go­ing ini­tia­tive to im­prove over­all tran­sit ser­vice in Strat­ford,” Mayor Dan Mathieson said. “... The funds can specif­i­cally as­sist Strat­ford in cre­at­ing more ac­ces­si­ble tran­sit shel­ters and in en­hanc­ing the new (Downie Street) tran­sit ter­mi­nal.”

In Perth County’s other mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, where there are no pub­lic tran­sit sys­tems, the money will largely off­set op­er­at­ing costs for mo­bil­ity bus pro­grams.

For St. Marys and Perth South, the fund­ing was in­creased by roughly $9,000 from $112,946 last year.

“The gas tax sub­sidy from the provin­cial gov­ern­ment is very im­por­tant to our com­mu­nity,” St. Marys Mayor Al Strathdee said. “It is used to help op­er­ate our mo­bil­ity bus ser­vice in St. Marys, Perth South and Zorra Town­ship. This en­ables se­niors and those with mo­bil­ity chal­lenges easy ac­cess to ser­vices in our com­mu­nity, such as med­i­cal ap­point­ments and so­cial ac­tiv­i­ties. We are grate­ful that the provin­cial gov­ern­ment has con­tin­ued to sup­port mo­bil­ity trans­porta­tion for those in need in our com­mu­nity.”

How­ever, while the prov­ince pro­vided an over­all boost to lo­cal fund­ing – up by about three per cent, West Perth’s share dropped by about $2,000 from roughly $73,000 last year.

As each On­tario mu­nic­i­pal­ity’s share of the $364-mil­lion gas tax program is based on a for­mula of 70 per cent rid­er­ship and 30 per cent pop­u­la­tion, and West Perth Mayor Wal­ter McKen­zie doesn’t think mo­bil­ity-bus and van rid­er­ship or the mu­nic­i­pal­ity’s pop­u­la­tion has de­creased, he wasn’t re­ally sure why West Perth’s share de­creased.

McKen­zie, the county war­den, noted the an­nual fund­ing is ben­e­fi­cial to main­tain­ing and op­er­at­ing the mo­bil­ity bus but was con­cerned with the lack of in­for­ma­tion from the prov­ince on the $1.45 mil­lion in fund­ing promised to Perth County by the last gov­ern­ment for the creation of a coun­ty­wide tran­sit sys­tem.

“It would still be nice to get some type of fund­ing ar­ranged for coun­ty­wide trans­porta­tion, not only to ad­dress the se­niors’ needs, but also the needs of peo­ple who don’t nec­es­sar­ily have ac­cess to ve­hi­cles and that for trans­porta­tion to work and doc­tor’s ap­point­ments and things like that,” McKen­zie said.

In 2019, 107 mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties across the prov­ince will re­ceive fund­ing through the gas tax program, rep­re­sent­ing more than 92 per cent of the prov­ince’s pop­u­la­tion.

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