More than $785,000 in transit funding has been provided to five Perth County municipalities by the province through the 2019 gas tax program.
The provincial government has allocated more than $785,000 through the 2019 gas tax program for public transit in five Perth County municipalities.
Divvied up, Stratford will receive $460,482, St. Marys and Perth South will receive a combined $121,907, West Perth will get $70,947, Perth East will get $67,580, and North Perth will receive $64,941.
“Transportation, ever since I’ve been elected, has been an issue throughout the riding, and this certainly helps municipalities that have buses or mobility buses, or whatever in place, and keep those services,” Perth-Wellington MPP Randy Pettapiece said.
“It helps them offset the operating costs and whatever else. It’s nice that the government recognizes this and sends money our way.”
In Stratford, this year’s funding represents an increase of roughly $8,000, up from about $452,000 in 2018.
“This is good news for the City of Stratford and further supports our ongoing initiative to improve overall transit service in Stratford,” Mayor Dan Mathieson said. “…The funds can specifically assist Stratford in creating more accessible transit shelters and in enhancing the new (Downie Street) transit terminal.”
In Perth County’s other municipalities, where there is no public transit system, the money will largely go toward offsetting operating costs for mobility bus programs.
For St. Marys and Perth South, the funding was increased by roughly $9,000 from $112,946 last year.
“The gas tax subsidy from the provincial government is very important to our community,” said St. Marys Mayor Al Strathdee. “It is used to help operate our mobility bus service in St. Marys, Perth South and Zorra Township. This enables seniors and those with mobility challenges easy access to services in our community such as medical appointments and social activities. We are grateful that the provincial government has continued to support mobility transportation for those in need in our community.”
However, while the province toted an overall increase in funding — up by about three per cent — for the Perth County municipalities, West Perth’s share of the pot dropped by about $2,000 from roughly $73,000 last year.
As each Ontario municipality’s share of the $364-million gas tax program is based on a formula of 70 per cent ridership and 30 per cent population, and West Perth Mayor Walter McKenzie doesn’t think mobility-bus and van ridership or the municipality’s population has decreased, he wasn’t really sure why West Perth’s share decreased.
And while he noted the annual funding is definitely beneficial to maintaining and operating the mobility bus, he said, speaking as both mayor and Perth County Warden, he is still concerned with the lack of information from the province on the $1.45 million in funding promised to Perth County by the last government for the establishment of a countywide transit system.
“It would still be nice to get some type of funding arranged for countywide transportation, not only to address the seniors’ needs, but also the needs of people who don’t necessarily have access to vehicles and that for transportation to work and doctor’s appointments and things like that,” McKenzie said.
In 2019, 107 municipalities across the province will receive funding through the gas tax program, representing more than 92 per cent of the province’s population.