Prov­ince boosts Bay of Quinte tran­sit fund­ing

The Intelligencer (Belleville) - - FRONT PAGE - TIM MEEKS

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.

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