Ex­tra bur­den on ru­ral tax­pay­ers

The Glengarry News - - The Opin­ion Page -

Money for roads and bridges con­tin­ues to top the agenda at meet­ings be­tween Eastern On­tario mu­nic­i­pal rep­re­sen­ta­tives and Mem­bers of Par­lia­ment.

“We have ma­jor in­vest­ment chal­lenges when it comes to our roads and bridge net­works across the re­gion,” warns Eastern On­tario War­dens’ Cau­cus Vice-Chair Bill Dob­son, the War­den of La­nark County.

The mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties in 13 coun­ties in Eastern On­tario own and are re­spon­si­ble for 73 per cent, or 69,110 kilo­me­tres of all roads, and 60 per cent of all bridges in the re­gion.

“That equates to some 5,113 bridges and struc­tures. Based on the needs for roads and bridges, we should be spend­ing an ad­di­tional $500 mil­lion to $600 mil­lion a year to keep them to an ac­cept­able stan­dard,” says Mr. Dob­son.

The bur­den on in­di­vid­ual tax­pay­ers is heav­ier in the coun­try than in the city.

The EOWC noted that in ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties, the cost of im­prov­ing one kilo­me­tre of road is shared by just five res­i­dences, while in ur­ban ar­eas it is shared by 25 homes.

The con­cern was un­der­lined when, for the third con­sec­u­tive year, mem­bers of the EOWC wel­comed MPs to dis­cuss pri­or­i­ties and part­ner­ship op­por­tu­ni­ties that would di­rectly ben­e­fit ru­ral Eastern On­tario.

EOWC Chair Robert Quaiff, Mayor of Prince Ed­ward County, spoke about the im­por­tance of a re­gional ap­proach and the need for in­creased col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween the fed­eral govern­ment and ru­ral mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties.

“It is our job, as lead­ers of our mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, to bring for­ward our most press­ing is­sues to the up­per lev­els of govern­ment,” Mr. Quaiff notes. “The EOWC has a proven track record of work­ing with its many part­ners, and specif­i­cally us­ing re­search and data, to ef­fec­tively ex­plain why th­ese should also be their pri­or­i­ties.”

The first pri­or­ity is pre­dictable in­fra­struc­ture fund­ing for roads and bridges. “The fed­eral 2017 bud­get rec­og­nized the crit­i­cal im­por­tance of man­ag­ing and im­prov­ing in­fra­struc­ture in ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties across Eastern On­tario, and the EOWC was pleased to see the fed­eral govern­ment’s $2-bil­lion com­mit­ment to ru­ral and north­ern mu­nic­i­pal in­fra­struc­ture and how that fund­ing will be awarded in part on the ba­sis of need,” Mr. Quaiff com­ments.

The se­cond item was the busi­ness case pre­pared by the Eastern On­tario Re­gional Net­work (EORN) on clos­ing the many cel­lu­lar net­work gaps across ru­ral Eastern On­tario. This project would im­prove cel­lu­lar and mo­bile broad­band ser­vices for the many res­i­dents and busi­nesses with­out ad­e­quate ser­vice, while also im­prov­ing the cel­lu­lar net­work from a pub­lic-safety per­spec­tive for our first re­spon­ders.

“The EOWC is work­ing very closely with EORN on this project, as well as our part­ners in the fed­eral and pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ments and the pri­vate sec­tor – just as we all worked to­gether in part­ner­ship when we col­lec­tively brought im­proved high-speed in­ter­net to ru­ral Eastern On­tario,” stated War­den Jim Ban­croft of the United Coun­ties of Stormont, Dun­das and Glen­garry.

“Like with the broad­band project, we hope to close th­ese many cel­lu­lar gaps on time and on bud­get, with the es­sen­tial sup­port and con­tri­bu­tion of our part­ners – and to­day’s meet­ing was a great step for­ward in our mu­tual col­lab­o­ra­tion.”

PRICEY PAVE­MENT: Ru­ral politi­cians keep press­ing for funds for projects such as the repaving of County Road 34 north of Alexan­dria.

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