Larry Van Wyck says the Town of Erin was really short-changed by recent Ontario grant programs that awarded $850-million to various municipalities across the province.
As Erin’s Roads Superintendent, Van Wyck suggested the town write a letter expressing its displeasure to Minister of Public Infrastructure Dave Caplan and Premier Dalton McGuinty. Council agreed last week to do that.
On March 28 the provincial government announced Erin would receive $369,094 as part of the province’s $400-million Capital Roads and Capital Bridges Capital Initiative. Every municipality in the province, other than Toronto, received some funding.
“I personally do not feel the Town of Erin received our fair share based on population and length of road system,” Van Wyck said.
The grant received by Erin was the lowest of any received by municipalities in Wellington County.The county and its lower tiers received over $7.4-million, including:
– $2,399,171 for Wellington County;
– $1,161,935 for Mapleton;
– $878,595 for Centre Wellington;
– $741,045 for Minto;
– $733,945 for Wellington North;
– $622,223 for Puslinch; and
– $541,530 for Guelph-Eramosa.
Van Wyck said if the government had actually used a fair formula incorporating road kilometres, population, and number of bridges – as it claimed it did – Erin would have received at least double the amount, likely closer to $770,000.
He also objected to the large role he said unpaved roads played in the government’s final decisions. That’s a “flawed” idea, he said, explaining a bridge costs the same whether it is for a gravel or paved road.
MIII grant missing
Van Wyck also said it would be nice to know how the government decided which projects were the priority for its $450-million Municipal Infrastructure Investment Initiative.
Particularly, he would like an explanation why the town was denied its MIII application for the reconstruction of a 5.5km stretch of Sideroad 5 (from County Road 24 to Winston Churchill Boulevard), including the replacement of three culverts.
The town, which applied for a grant of $1.3-million, fulfilled all the requirements for a grant and submitted its application on time, Van Wyck explained, so he wants to know why some roads were given preference over others.
Some projects that received funding did not even necessarily meet the province’s requirements, he added.
For instance, Centre Wellington received an MIII grant worth $580,000 for the reconstruction of Metcalfe Street in Elora, in conjunction with Wellington County, which plans bridge work on that street. Van Wyck said the county does not plan on completing that project this year, which violates one of the main requirements of the funding program – that projects be construction ready.
“What is the point of publishing the criteria if it doesn’t apply to everyone?” he asked. He concluded by saying the town should request sustained funding from the province, not “one-off” programs like MIII.
Mayor Rod Finnie said, “I’m glad we got some funding,” but he, too, agreed there should be steady, annual funding from the province.
While he noted the town has been successful in the past with COMRIF (Canada Ontario Municipal Rural Infrastructure Fund) grants, Finnie said he prefers regular funding over competitive processes like COMRIF and MIII.
Councillor Barb Tocher said the province likes to keep municipalities competing with one another so they are too busy to keep an eye on what the province itself is doing.
Van Wyck told The Advertiser that the town has provided the information to MPP Ted Arnott, “who continues to lobby on [Erin’s] behalf.”