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Province severs connecting link funding

Tuesday, February 19, 2013   by: Darren Taylor
Sault taxpayers will have to pay 100 percent of the bill for maintenance of the community’s most vital commercial roads, because of a sudden change in provincial government policy.
 
City Council, after its’ regular meeting Tuesday night, will urge the provincial government to rethink its’ recent cancellation of the Connecting Link Funding Program.
 
Under the Connecting Link Funding Program, an annual grant covered 75 percent of construction and engineering costs for Sault Ste. Marie’s vital commercial links, including Trunk Road from the eastern City limit to Black Road, Black Road from Trunk Road to Second Line, Second Line from Black Road to Carmen’s Way, Carmen’s Way from Second Line to Queen Street and Huron Street, and Great Northern Road from Second Line to the City’s northern limit.
 
City Chief Administrative Officer Joe Fratesi told SooToday.com “this is hugely important. This is another 24 kilometres of significant roadway that is going to be repaired or replaced on the backs of local taxpayers only, whereas before, three quarters of the cost of doing work on these roadways was subsidized by the province.”
 
“That’s gone. That hurts,” Fratesi told us.
 
Sault Ste. Marie is not the only community affected by the decision, but Council will be in contact with Sault MPP and Minister of Natural Resources David Orazietti to get Transportation Minister Glen Murray and the rest of the government on board in considering an exception for Sault Ste. Marie, because of the community’s significant amount of connecting link roads (24.9 kilometres of roadways) and its’ international connection, through the International Bridge.
 
Cancellation of the Connecting Link Funding Program will put a dent in the amount of road reconstruction and the local construction industry annually. It is estimated, in a City report, there will be a 10 to 15 percent annual decrease in road reconstruction and resurfacing each year because of the action taken by the government.
 
It also puts a huge question mark on the hoped-for connection of Highway 17 (new portion) to Black Road at Second Line.
 
Fratesi told us “our argument to the province would be they ought not to go ahead with this because in Sault Ste. Marie we have a significant amount of kilometres, and that maybe an exception should be made for us.”
 
Fratesi told Council "our protest to the provincial government (is) every time we turn around, there seems to be another nibble here, another nibble there (on our funding)."
 
Fratesi said if the province does not change its’ decision regarding Connecting Link funding, work on those roads will take priority and push back many other local road projects that have needed attention for some time.
 
Fratesi told us “we work on a priority basis to repair or plough roads, the main roads get done first, and our connecting links comprise some of our main roads, like Second Line and Great Northern Road, for example.”
 
“If money is spent there and not being subsidized by the province, it’ll suffer at the other end, in the residential neighbourhoods, who’ve been at the bottom of the list and who no doubt will go further down the list because of this action.”
 
Notification that the program has been discontinued was contained in a January letter from then-Minister of Transportation Bob Chiarelli, addressed to Mayor Debbie Amaroso’s office.
 
Correspondence from the Ontario government with the City as recent as December 2012 gave no indication the program would end.
 
Information provided by the City shows Sault Ste. Marie benefited greatly from the Connecting Link Funding Program since 1999, in the amount of $32.4 million.
 
The province has informed the City it is welcome to apply for connecting link funding through the Municipal Infrastructure Investment Initiative (MIII), but Sault Ste. Marie will face stiff competition from other Ontario communities for MIII funding, which amounts to only $90 million for the entire province.
 
The City filed an Expression of Interest for MIII funding in time for a January 9, 2013 deadline.
 
Regarding the government’s sudden change in funding policy, Fratesi told us “Council made noise about this tonight, and hopefully that noise is heard at Queen’s Park.”
Comments
19
Note: Comments that appear on the site are not the opinion of SooToday.com. If you see an abusive post, please click the link beside the post to report it.
frizz 2/19/2013 11:27:21 PM Report

I guess there is no reason to keep the liberals in power anymore....I just feel as though they do not give a rats....about us at all. Our MPP needs to get this one in order or he can say good bye to his seat too.
Right of Centre 2/20/2013 12:19:30 AM Report

"If money is spent there and not being subsidized by the province, it’ll suffer at the other end, in the residential neighbourhoods, who’ve been at the bottom of the list and who no doubt will go further down the list because of this action.”

How much do you want to bet Sunnyside Beach will never see the bottom of the list?
BlackHelix 2/20/2013 12:24:41 AM Report

Wow

So let me get this straight. Bob Chiarelli - after only one year as Minister of Transportation and on his way out - cuts funding to our commercial link roads & highways, leaving the bill for Sault taxpayers. But if these are really "commercial" links, why does the private sector not have to bear any of the costs? Are corporate taxes going up? Unlikely, considering these days the Liberals have a raging hard-on for the private sector. Let's be real here. It's not like those extension's were built so Grandma can get to church faster.

Essentially, our taxes are going up so that out of town companies (and local entities like Essar) can have their infrastructure subsidized by someone else. So that they can get to Toronto or Detroit more efficiently.

Bob Chiarelli: Official douchebag of the day....

Justin Tetreault 2/20/2013 1:15:37 AM Report

The fund paid the Soo just over $30 million over almost 15 years or approximately 2 million a year. It's not going to bankrupt the city by any means to have to pay for their own roads, most of which are in good shape.
jojo12345 2/20/2013 1:31:58 AM Report

some peoples in this town are putting money in their own pocket
RLE 2/20/2013 4:47:09 AM Report

Justin:

If the Liberals stated that S..T ran up hill you'd try to convince us that,that was a fact. It would be nice if you stopped being a Liberal sycophant and started to be a citizen of SSM.
WAVEACTION 2/20/2013 6:32:51 AM Report

The Provincial government has made concessions such as wage freezes, lower starting wages, early retirement, cutting programs and a number of other things to help balance the budget. Could the town not do something similar to offset the reduction in road $$. Time will tell on what roads/streets get priority.
flyhawk25 2/20/2013 6:48:43 AM Report

So much for having a brand new cabinet minister 'putting you first'.
Wicked 2/20/2013 7:03:12 AM Report

Nibble nibble-look up the public service bill the gov't wants to pass.
Steal from the working poor.
BrianTheDog 2/20/2013 7:11:57 AM Report

First order of business for Cabinet Minister David O. Take away 2 million dollars in funding for roads. I thought we were suppose to get more not less when we had a Cabinet Minister.
rcssm69 2/20/2013 8:05:59 AM Report

Right of Centre...
Is that really what you got out of this story??? Put blame where it belongs!!!
Sam C 2/20/2013 8:29:11 AM Report

Right of Centre... if residential streets are already at the bottom of the list, how can they go further down the list?

Fly... really? He's been Minister of Natural Resources for less than a week. This decision by the MTO has been in the works for some time, and is likely a legacy of McGuinty's "we're deeply in debt and have to do something" plan."

Let's wait and see if Council's appeal -- and, I suspect may other communities will do likewise -- has any effect on our new Premier.
cjborg 2/20/2013 8:29:44 AM Report

How else can you begin to pay for the Fiberals blunders??? i.e. Gas Plant Cancellations (who knows the true cost yet-- not the current Provincial Government thats for sure!), Ornge, Teachers Salary increases of 35% over the past 8 years, Med Info mess, Renewal Energy fiasco, etc. etc.

Don't look to the "Pied Piper" NDP'ers for any cost effective solutions any time soon......

The PC's have yet to selected a worthy local candiate for the upcoming election... (The public will need to know more about their platform before any final decision can be made.... hopefully their actions and policies will compliment their big brother Federal PC for the past several years....)

In any case the next election (soon I hope) will be most interesting and critical... if we don't go bankrupt in the meantime.. too late for last minute costly compromises.....
ROBBW 2/20/2013 8:56:01 AM Report

Then its time to toll those roads. If you want to drive your big rig on them tax them.
flyhawk25 2/20/2013 9:11:54 AM Report

Sam C...agreed.
My beef with David O goes back to his lack of communication with his constituents.
I e-mailed him in November over a health care issue effecting me and never even got the courtesy of a response.
If this decision is reversed you can bet he'll take credit for giving us back something we had.
Incredible.
Coo1 2/20/2013 10:04:36 AM Report

Then we should add a toll to driving on the major highways, just like the 407. Add a few cameras at stop lights for all the people who like to go through stop signs and red lights here in the Soo... problem solved, money made back or at the very least, helps to alleviate the working persons already overly taxed income.

Ricatoni 2/20/2013 12:32:06 PM Report

Gangsters is all I can say..at least the mafia gives back to the community these liberal crooks just steal everything and give nothing back liberal theifs. At this point in time nobody really cares anymore about any of these issues...... liberals have proven over and over again their inability to do anything right.your the jokes of this country and province.If I was david o I would pack up your family and get the hell out of town....... The liberal way is criminal activity, they have proven this to be the only way to make a living in this province.....stealing tax payers money and spending it like kids in a candy store...CRIME is the liberals solution...just follow their steps to prosperity......
mallet 2/20/2013 12:42:24 PM Report

I guess Justin has not driven up from second line to the third line on the Gt north Rd lately.. I pity people with those little smart cars, their little tires get lost in some of those potholes.
Justin Tetreault 2/20/2013 2:46:30 PM Report

If you read the story, this decision was made months before Orazietti became a minister.
Comments
19
Note: Comments that appear on the site are not the opinion of SooToday.com. If you see an abusive post, please click the link beside the post to report it.
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