Help for ru­ral On­tario

Prov­ince of­fers free plan­ning as­sis­tance for road and bridge work to smaller com­mu­ni­ties

The Observer (Sarnia) - - FRONT PAGE - LOUIS PIN [email protected]­media.com

On­tario’s Min­is­ter of In­fra­struc­ture Monte McNaughton re­turned to his ru­ral On­tario roots in New­bury Fri­day to an­nounce the prov­ince’s plan for in­fra­struc­ture in ru­ral On­tario.

Over three years, the On­tario govern­ment will shell out $2.1 mil­lion to help smaller mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties — those with pop­u­la­tions of 25,000 or less — de­velop as­set-man­age­ment plans for main­tain­ing roads and bridges. That will mean send­ing ex­perts to places like New­bury and mu­nic­pal­i­ties with smaller pop­u­la­tions and mount­ing in­fra­struc­ture bills.

New­bury Reeve Diane Brewer, who is McNaughton’ s aunt, in­tro­duced the Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive MPP.

“He has al­ways remembered where he came from. In that re­spect, he’s al­ways helped the vil­lage of New­bury,” Brewer said.

This new an­nounce­ment will help smaller mu­nic­i­pal gov­ern­ments get their fu­ture spend­ing in or­der, McNaughton said.

“This is about send­ing teams out to those smaller mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties who need to get their as­set­man­age­ment plans in place,” McNaughton said. “We’re send­ing help out free of charge.”

The govern­ment will start with 58 of the 250 small mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties that qual­ify for as­sis­tance. Other larger mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, such as nearby Chatham-Kent, al­ready have as­set-man­age­ment plans to han­dle their in­fra­struc­ture con­cerns.

Many smaller mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties are not able to in­vest in a proper as­set-man­age­ment plan. That’s where the govern­ment’s help will come in.

“This is about mak­ing the right in­fra­struc­ture in­vest­ments at the right time in the right place,” McNaughton said. “Hav­ing a sound as­set-man­age­ment plan helps us en­sure that we’re spend­ing tax­payer dol­lars wisely.”

A num­ber of smaller may­ors were at the New­bury an­nounce­ment Fri­day, in­clud­ing BrookeAlvin­ston Mayor David Fer­gu­son and War­wick Town­ship Mayor Jackie Rom­bouts.

“It is en­cour­ag­ing. It’s a good start,” Fer­gu­son said. “Now that we have (fund­ing for an as­set-man­age­ment plan), we have to be able to be able to use it.”

“We’re on the map again,” Rom­bouts added.

The as­set-man­age­ment help comes on the heels of an­other McNaughton an­nounce­ment in which he and Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter Ernie Harde­man promised nat­u­ral gas to 80 com­mu­ni­ties and roughly 35,000 houses in ru­ral On­tario.

Also ex­pected in early 2019 is a broad­band plan for ru­ral and north­ern On­tario. McNaughton would not re­lease de­tails from the up­com­ing plan but told his old town to keep an eye out for an an­nounce­ment over the next few months.

“I know how des­per­ate small­town and north­ern On­tario is for broad­band,” he said after the meet­ing. “We’re look­ing for­ward to an­nounc­ing that.”

LOUIS PIN/SAR­NIA OB­SERVER

Min­ster of In­fra­struc­ture Monte McNaughton stands in New­bury, where the Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive MPP grew up and got his start in pol­i­tics. Fri­day, McNaughton an­nounced ru­ral mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties will get help from the prov­ince to plan road and bridge work.

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