CK delegation seeks provincial infrastructure funding

Don Shropshire, CAO of Chatham-Kent. CKReview photo.

A delegation representing the Municipality of Chatham-Kent will meet with Government of Ontario ministers on Tuesday to ensure adequate funding for road rehabilitation and for a program to control invasive plants in Rondeau Bay.

The delegation includes councillor Michael Bondy, representing municipal council, and Chief Administrative Officer Don Shropshire. The meetings will take place as part of the annual Combined Conference of the Ontario Good Roads Association (OGRA) and the Rural Ontario Municipal Association (ROMA) in Toronto February 24-27. The Combined Conference is one of the largest annual gatherings of municipal leaders in Canada. Its aim is to reinvigorate public debate about how municipalities will respond to challenges and opportunities.

The Chatham-Kent delegation will meet with Minister Glen Murray, Ministry of Infrastructure and Ministry of Transportation regarding funding for transportation infrastructure. At issue is the apparent provincial downloading of costs for deficient transportation infrastructure onto municipalities. Chatham-Kent has regularly applied for provincial funding for projects under the Connecting Links Program. The municipality has been advised by the Ministry of Transportation that Connecting Links Program funding is now placed under the Municipal Infrastructure Investment Initiative (MIII) and is not a separate program. The MIII program allows for only one project submission and funding is capped at $2,000,000. By contrast, the Connecting Links Program in Chatham-Kent represents $3,450,000 in grant funding, providing 75% and 90% of eligible expenditures for road rehabilitation projects. The CK delegation is asking that the province support funding under the Connecting Link Program, separate from the MIII program, and maintain the current funding levels of the Connecting Links agreements now in place.

The CK delegation will also meet with Minister David Orazietti, Ministry of Natural Resources, to ask that the ministry partner with the Municipality of Chatham-Kent and the Erieau Partnership Association (EPA). During its 2012 budget process, Chatham-Kent Council committed to an on-going investment of $10,000 each year to fight the invasive plant Eurasian Milfoil in Rondeau Bay. The bay and Rondeau Provincial Park are a valuable natural resource for tourism and recreation, but invasive species such as Eurasian Milfoil severely hamper recreational activities and have a serious economic impact. With the municipality, the EPA also provides local private funding to support a project in which a type of beetle, known as a “weevil”, is introduced to control the invasive plant. The CK delegation is asking the province to support the project with matching funds in the amount of $10,000 annually over a minimum five-year timeframe.