| Jun 01, 2006


Feature Article - June 1, 2006

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Feature Article - June 1, 2006

Politicians all smiles as they hand out road grant money

by JeffGreen

Leona Dombrowsky, the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs for the Province of Ontario, and Scott Reid, the Deputy House Leader for the Harper government in Ottawa, took advantage of breaks in the provincial and federal legislative schedules to take care of some constituency business last week.

Their paths crossed in Sharbot Lake on Wednesday afternoon, May 24, where they each handed out $2 million of their respective government’s money towards the reconstruction of Road 38.

“We like to see special people,” said Frontenac County Warden Bill Lake to Reid and Dombrowsky, “and we like to see them even more when they bring money with them.”

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It was Dombrowsky’s own ministry that handled the application process for the COMRIF granting program, which approved the $4 million matching grant that will go towards a $6 million reconstruction project to be completed by Central Frontenac Township this year. Twenty-one kilometres of Road 38, from south of Parham to the edge of the village of Sharbot Lake , will be rebuilt.

“I’ve been hearing about Hwy. 38 and its reconstruction needs since before I was first elected,” said Leona Dombrowsky in making the announcement, “and I congratulate everyone who has been involved in preparing the application for the COMRIF grant. It was necessary to not only have a good and worthy project, which this was, but to prepare a solid application, since COMRIF is a competitive bidding process. There were 78 communities that received support in Intake 2 [of COMRIF] but there were 339 applications for support. The residents of Central Frontenac can be proud of the work your municipal politicians and staff did on this.”

The grant came after the second of three intakes for the COMRIF program, which will inject $600 million of federal and provincial government money into rural Ontario by the time it is completed.

After Central Frontenac was refused on Intake 1 of COMRIF, Central Frontenac Mayor Bill MacDonad called Leona Dombrowsky immediately, emphasising his disappointment that the project had been rejected.

Road 38 was originally a provincial highway, which was downloaded to Central Frontenac by the Harris government in the late 90’s. The province included a grant with the road, to help with maintenance and with the cost of a needed rebuild, but the money did not cover the projected cost for reconstruction, and Central Frontenac has applied to every funding program going for the past eight years for help in rebuilding the highway, to no avail.

“After the first COMRIF intake, I told municipalities that had been unsuccessful to think of it as a hockey game at the end of the first period. You would never turn off the game after one period because your team is losing. And now Central Frontenac has scored in the second period,” said Dombrowsky.

“You have to remember that I’m a fan of the Maple Leafs,” countered Bill MacDonald, “so it was hard for me not to give up after one period.”

MacDonald said that credit for the township’s success in securing the grant should go to the staff members who worked on the application. “I had very little to do with this,” he said, “it was staff members Heather Fox, Bill Nicol, Judy Gray, Mark MacDonald, Chris Matheson, and consultant Bill Blum who did all the work.”

Scott Reid was making one of his first appearances as the representative of a governing political party. The COMRIF program, which is formally called the Canada Ontario Municipal Rural Infrastructure Fund, had been established by the former Liberal government, and the program was delayed several months after the federal election.

“This is a government that carries on with programs and priorities that are underway. This includes infrastructure, particularly roads and bridges,” he said.

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