Province turns down township for infrastructure funding

WELLINGTON NORTH – The township’s batting average in securing provincial dollars for roadwork projects has taken a hit following the rejection of a request for funding from the Ministry of Transportation (MTO).

“I’d say our batting average is pretty darn good,” Mayor Andy Lennox told councillors during an April 25 meeting.

But, he said, “this isn’t the news we wanted to hear.”

The township applied last year to the province’s Connecting Link Program, which could have seen the province cover 90 per cent of the $900,000 proposed cost of resurfacing Smith Street (Highway 6), from its southerly point at the Conestoga River bridge, to its northern point at Wells Street.

But with the rejection, the proposal will remain just that.

“Our residents certainly recognize the importance of these arteries in our community and we absolutely need the support of the [province] to make these happen,” Lennox said, before speaking of past successes.

Lennox said the province’s rejection provided a good opportunity to reflect on successful funding applications for Main Street South, Queen Street West and George Smith Street and said other municipalities have not been so successful.

The mayor also said he frequently speaks with transport minister Caroline Mulroney, and referred to her as “gracious.”

According to Lennox, Mulroney has also admitted the province needs to be “at the table” with the township when discussing the impact of future growth on Highway 6, linking Arthur and Mount Forest.

“While we’re disappointed we didn’t get this one, I think we keep trying,” Lennox remarked.

Councillor Dan Yake weighed in, saying, “it sometimes looks like we’re not doing very good, but really over the last number of years we’ve been very fortunate.”

The province received [37] funding applications for a chunk of the $30 million available for 2022-23, stated Geoffrey Gladdy, director of Ministry of Transportation west operations, in an April 20 decision letter addressed to Lennox.

“I encourage your municipality to submit [projects] for the 2023-24 Connecting Links Program, which will be open for applications later this year,” Gladdy added.

In an email responding to questions from the Advertiser, MTO issues management coordinator Simi Ikotun stated the township’s application did not meet evaluated priorities of safety, road condition, project readiness and cost effectiveness.

Ikotun did not provide more specific detail.