| Jun 08, 2006


Feature Article - June 8, 2006

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Feature Article - June 8, 2006

The $6 million road

by Jeff Green

As reported in this edition of the News, there were pats on the back all around last week to celebrate an agreement by three levels of government to bring Road 38 back from the brink of collapse.

The federal-provincial support will bring the township’s own cost to fix the road down to $1.3 million once they use up the last of the money that was granted to them when the road was dumped on their laps by the government on Ontario eight years ago.

The southern section of the road was repaired by the Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) before the road was downloaded to the Township of South Frontenac , and presumably the MTO would have continued on repairing Hwy. 38 if the government of the day hadn’t decided to download the road, and the cost of repairing and maintaining it, to Central Frontenac.

Heart_and_soul

The township of Central Frontenac , which maintains one of the highest municipal tax rates in the region, will still only bring in $4 million in taxes this year.

Before receiving the recent grant, Central Frontenac was facing a $5.3 million cost if they took on the needed road repairs themselves ($6 million minus the $700,000 that remained from a provincial grant that came with the road in 1998).

Imagine what kind of project cities like Ottawa of Toronto would be contemplating in order to spend 136% of their annual budget. The province would never consider foisting such a cost on a major municipal government, but that is just what happened to Central Frontenac when the Queen’s Highway 38 became township Road 38.

As one businessperson said to me last year, “No matter how much we are taxed, there is no way that we could pay for fixing that road; there aren’t enough of us.”

One way or another, a granting program from the province was going to have come through to cover this repair. That has been clear for years.

It could have been done more cheaply, of course, if the provincial repair crews had simply continued on when the southern portion was being repaired. That would have been simple. By shuffling the road to a township that would never be in a position to repair it, a ten-year delay was created, and delays cost lots of money when it comes to road construction.

It is the Province of Ontario that has gained in this process. By downloading the road, they are now only paying 1/3 of the cost instead of the entire cost. The construction this fall will still be 100% funded by tax dollars, just as it would have been back then, no matter how the cost is shuffled around

It is a great relief to taxpayers and municipal politicians in Central Frontenac that the road will finally be repaired.

But it’s hard to see how this is progress.

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