Provincial government votes down gas tax sharing in rural areas

Motorists in rural and small-town Ontario will conti­nue to subsidize big cities while seeing no predic­table funding returned to their own communities to fix crum­bling roads and bridges.

“The high cost of gas is bad enough,” said Wellington-Hal­ton Hills MPP Ted Arnott after a bill was defeated that would have forced the provincial gov­ernment to share gas tax reve­nues with rural and small-town Ontario.

“But what’s worse is that every penny of the provin­cial gas tax we pay goes to sup­port big-city transit projects, while our communities get nothing.”

Ontario Liberal MPPs, in­cluding many from rural rid­ings, last week voted down a private member’s bill that would have shared revenue from On­tario’s 14.7 cents per litre gas tax among all munici­palities – rural and urban. Fed­eral gas tax revenues are al­ready shared among all muni­cipalities.

“It’s truly baffling that the Liberals would vote against this basic measure of fairness for the people of their commu­nities,” said Arnott, who noted that Premier Dalton McGuinty might not have allowed his Liberal members a free vote on the issue.

“Our municipalities have asked for stable and predictable funding to fix our roads and bridges,” said Arnott. “This bill would have gone a long way to provide that.”

He also noted that Puslinch Township and Erin were both shut out of recently announced fund­ing under the Municipal Infra­structure Investment Ini­ti­ative.

“I’m still trying to get explanations and answers as to why those communities were shut out,” said Arnott as the legislature debated the gas tax bill on May 1.

He also noted the lack of an appeals process or debriefing process for muni­cipalities to which the Mc­Guin­ty government denied funding.