Province boosts Bay of Quinte transit funding
The Bay of Quinte region’s three largest municipalities are all getting a bump in their allocated funding from Ontario’s gas tax program.
Bay of Quinte MPP Todd Smith announced earlier this week $ 737,657 ( 5.6 per cent increase) will be allocated to Belleville, Quinte West will receive $ 506,885 ( 2.1 per cent) and Prince Edward County will get $ 118,007 ( 20.4 per cent) for 2018/ 19.
“The funding is nice to see, it’s about $ 40,000 more than we got last year, but it’s not going to go very far, it will get used up quickly,” said Belleville mayor Mitch Panciuk.
“The problem with public transit is everything we do is so expensive. We’ll be able to do a little bit more and it will help us improve our service on existing routes and we’re hoping to expand service into Thurlow Ward. But one of the biggest challenges for any municipality is having so many things to do and not enough money to do it.”
Quinte West mayor Jim Harrison said he was very thankful for the extra funding, since the city just repurposed its old public works building to house both Quinte Access and the Care and Share Food Bank.
“Listen, a dollar helps, I’m thankful. I’ve never sent a cheque back yet and I don’t intend to start,” Harrison said. “We’ve just expanded our home base and we’re looking at how we can move people from Frankford to Belleville and Quinte West and get into Loyalist College, so this will help us look at that and figure out how we can get more students living in Quinte West to school and get them to the hub in Belleville. Once they get to the hub then they can get on their ridership.
“I’ve got figures on our ridership and it has tremendously increased and if we’re a retirement centre, like they say we are, you and I are going to want to use it. The gas tax program is a great thing and we can certainly use the money,” Harrison said.
“The gas tax funding from the Ontario government helps us offer specialized transit service to people who require accessible public transit,” said Prince Edward County mayor Steve Ferguson. “This service, contracted through Quinte Access, provides door- to- door transit services to locations within Prince Edward County and beyond, five days per week ( Monday through Friday).
“The provincial gas tax funding, combined with financial support from the Prince Edward District Women’s Association and local taxpayers, allows us to offer a vital service that reduces the isolation many people experience living in a rural community such as ours,” Ferguson said.
Jeff Yurek, Minister of Transportation, and Parliamentary Assistant Kinga Surma announced the provincial government is helping 107 municipalities across the prov- ince expand or improve their public transit systems with Ontario’s gas tax program.
“We are investing in public transit to make it a more convenient travel option and attract more riders,” stated Yurek in a press release. “More public transit will cut through gridlock and get people moving.”
This year, the province is providing $ 364 million in gas tax funding to 107 municipalities providing public transit service to 144 communities across Ontario. These communities rep- resent more than 92 per cent of Ontario’s total population.
Funding for Ontario’s gas tax program is determined by the number of litres of gasoline sold in the province. The program provides municipalities with two cents per litre of provincial gas tax revenues. Municipalities receiving gas tax funding must use these funds toward their public transit capital and/ or operating expenditures, at their own discretion, including upgrading transit infrastructure, increasing accessibility, purchasing transit vehicles, adding more routes and extending hours of service.
The share that each municipality receives is based on a formula of 70 per cent ridership and 30 per cent population. These funds serve both the needs of large and small municipal transit systems.
Municipalities that contribute financially to public transit services are eligible for funding. Municipalities not currently providing transit can become eligible for funding if they start up fully-accessible transit services.