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Feature Article - November 17, 2005

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Feature Article

November 17, 2005

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Leona comes to Council, but doesn't bring goodies

by Jeff Green

As Ontario’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, Leona Dombrowsky now oversees the Ministry that is charged with deciding which municipalities will be funded through the joint federal/provincial COMRIF (Canada Ontario Municipal Rural Infrastructure Fund) program. So, when word came to members of North Frontenac Council that she would be accepting a long-standing invitation to address Council, hopes were raised that she might bring good news about North Frontenac’s application to the second round of COMRIF.

These hopes were dashed, however, when Dombrowsky told Council that results from round 2 of COMRIF will not be available until the end of the year, at the earliest.


“We are hoping to have the selection process complete by the end of December. I’m not sure that we’ll make it, but that’s what we are aiming for,” she told the assembled councillors in Plevna last Thursday.

She also said that the selection process for the COMRIF grants, while under the purview of her Ministry, is being handled by an arms-length secretariat.

“As you are all aware, none of the projects in Frontenac County were funded in round 1 of COMRIF, and as you know as well, I have heard about this in a very strong way from Mayor Maguire and others.

“But that was only intake one. There are three intakes for COMRIF. You wouldn’t give up because you didn’t score in the first period of a hockey game.”

North Frontenac has applied, in both round one and round 2 of COMRIF, for funding support to replace the one lane bridge over the Mississippi River on road 509 with a two-lane bridge.

Jointly, the federal and provincial governments will be spending $400 million on Intake 2 of COMRIF. Grant requests for Intake 2 total $1.1 billion. Municipal governments that receive COMRIF support, pay 1/3 of the cost of the accepted projects. Intakes 1 and 2 will use up 80% of the funds allocated to the program.

During her one-hour visit to Council, Leona Dombrowsky also addressed a proposal that Mayor Ron Maguire has made that has been supported by nearly 100 Ontario municipalities. The proposal would see very small municipalities receive relief from paying social services costs that were downloaded from the provincial government under the Harris Tories.

“As I understand it, you would like to see social service costs for the smallest municipalities subsidised entirely by taxpayers from throughout the province,” Dombrowsky said to Ron Maguire, “but in that case, would you no longer need programs like COMRIF to help with infrastructure costs?”

“Not at all, not at all,” Maguire said, “we need support for infrastructure no matter what.”

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