Cornwall and SDG considering options for infrastructure grants

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The City of Cornwall and the United Counties of SDG’s infrastructure departments are already trying to decide which projects they intend to put forward for grants from a pot of infrastructure money the Ontario government announced Tuesday, whose deadline for applications in mid-May.

The province government framed the announcement as “Ontario Launches $30 Billion Infrastructure Funding Program,” when, in fact, it will only be contributing a third of that amount to an existing federal program.

The province will be spending just over $1 billion a year over the next decade in parallel to the federal government’s Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program. This funding will be matched by the feds as well as municipalities that apply for grants for a total of $30 billion in spending over the next 10 years.

“This is great news for communities in our riding,” MPP Jim McDonell said in a statement. “Our government is listening and has heard the infrastructure needs of our municipalities. Today we’re telling communities to get started on the crucial process of project nomination.”

Communities such as Cornwall will have eight weeks to nominate projects for the money starting on March 18. The funding is being split up into five different streams, including one for cities with populations under 100,000 people.

Cornwall general manager for infrastructure John St. Marseille said the city will likely focus its grant applications there.

“There is a targeted amount for rural communities, and we seem to meet the threshold,” he said. “In terms of the types of projects, it seems to run the gamut of public transit, green projects, community culture and recreation, and linear infrastructure as well.”

So with such wide options what are some of the projects the City of Cornwall may put forward for funding? Whatever would best align with the city’s needs and ongoing projects, said St. Marseille. At the moment staff members trying to figure out what those would be, but there are plenty of options to choose from.

Cornwall has a water main replacement backlog of just under $40 million that could be reduced with some extra money. Transportation capacity increases through additional road infrastructure is also on the table.

“The extension of Nick Kaneb Drive, for example, is also in our 2019 budget, and that will roll over into 2020 as well. So that’s something that we might think about,” he said.

Road resurfacing and rehabilitation may also be considered as long as getting the grants does not prevent the city from double-dipping by also using its gas tax funding on the projects.

Bridges, sewers and recreational buildings are also options, but St. Marseille says it all depends on what they determine is the greatest priority that also happens to fit within the framework of the grants.

At the United Counties of SDG, director of planning and transportation Ben De Haan said he began dreaming about what SDG could accomplish with the money as soon as he heard the announcement. Those dreams have centred on the Morrisburg County Road 2 rehabilitation project, the designs for which were recently shown to the public at an open house.

“The Morrisburg project checks a lot of boxes for infrastructure funding: the project will improve vehicular safety, enhance the environment, comply with asset management principles, address pedestrian safety and mobility, solve accessibility concerns, support cycling and develop an aesthetically pleasing streetscape for Morrisburg,” he said. “Further, this project is a joint partnership with the Municipality of South Dundas, and, a successful application would benefit several levels of government at the same time.”

ahale@postmedia.com

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