| Apr 27, 2006

Feature Article - April 27, 2006

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Feature Article - April 27, 2006

COMRIFcomes through forCentralFrontenac

by JeffGreen

Years after receiving a downloaded highway in need of reconstruction, Central Frontenac will be fixing Road 38, and they hope to be doing so this year.

COMRIF, the Canada Ontario Municipal Rural Infrastructure Fund, will be contributing over $4 million to the project, provided Central Frontenac can pony up an additional $2 million.

The COMRIF fund is supported equally by the federal and provincial governments, and a complicated application process has been set up for municipalities to compete for the funds.

Results from this second of three intake periods for COMRIF were expected this past winter, but with a new government in Ottawa , the announcement was delayed.


For Central Frontenac Mayor Bill MacDonald, it has been a long wait for funding support to reconstruct the crumbling Road 38. Before the road was downloaded to South and Central Frontenac, the Ontario Ministry of Transportation completed a reconstruction project on it, from Hwy. 401 north through South Frontenac, ending within metres of the boundary between South and Central Frontenac.

In recognition of this, the province agreed to provide a grant of $3.2 million to Central Frontenac, which was supposed to represent 60% of the cost of reconstructing Central Frontenac’s 35-kilometre portion of Road 38.

The $3.2 million was well short of the cost of reconstruction, and with the road deteriorating each year, Central Frontenac has applied for a series of grants from provincial programs, with names like Superbuild and OSTAR, but to no avail.

Four years ago, the township used most of the $3.2 million provincial grant to reconstruct two parts of the road that were in the worst condition: the section from the border with South Frontenac north to the edge of Parham, and a section in the village of Sharbot Lake. A stop gap patching job was done on the remaining 21 kilometres.

With an annual budget of under $4 million per year for its entire range of operations, the $6 million price tag for completing the reconstruction of Road 38 has been out of reach for Central Frontenac.

Hopes were rekindled in 2004 when the $900 million dollar COMRIF program was announced for rural Ontario , but when Central Frontenac was unsuccessful in the first intake of COMRIF, Bill MacDonald expressed extreme frustration, and wasted no time apprising local MPP Leona Dombrowsky of his feelings on the matter.

Now that Central Frontenac will be receiving $4 million from the second intake, $2 million from each of the senior levels of government, MacDonald is quick to credit Dombrowsky, who is now the provincial minister in charge of the COMRIF program.

“I think you have to give credit where credit is due. Our local representative did a good job for us,” said MacDonald earlier this week.

Central Frontenac will now have to determine how it will fund its own portion of the project’s costs. Of the original $3.2 million grant, $700,000 remains in a reserve fund, leaving the township the task of raising $1.3 million.

Treasurer Judy Gray informed the township council this week that Central Frontenac has been approved for a low-interest provincial government loan program, should council want to take that route. The option of dipping into the township’s general reserve funds remains open as well.

Public Works Manager Bill Nicol said that he is preparing to bring this project to completion by November of this year, and he received approval from council this week to set out a tender for an engineering plan for the project.

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