Ontario Hansard – 16-April 2015
Mr. Ted Arnott: I want to thank the member for Essex, the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and the member for Thornhill for their responses to my brief remarks this afternoon.
Yes, I believe the minister, who talked about the principles that are enunciated in the bill-those are principles that I think we can all agree with. We might offer different suggestions about the weight each of those principles would hold in terms of the decision-making, but I think those are, by and large, good principles.
If the bill goes to committee-which I hope it will-if we have public hearings and there is additional input from the general public suggesting changes, obviously I hope the government would be open to that.
But again, as I said, I haven’t been able to get through my full list of infrastructure priorities. I will continue this discussion at third reading, when we get back to third reading, assuming that the bill does go to committee and is reported back to the House.
I want to talk briefly-I only have a minute left-about the cancellation of the Connecting Link Program a couple of years ago. I know that many of the government members understand that the Connecting Link Program existed for many, many years; I think going back to 1927, when George Howard Ferguson was Premier of Ontario. It was one of the very first infrastructure partnership programs between the provincial government and municipalities.
As Ontario was building its road network across the province in the 1920s, it was seen as necessary to have the provincial government support local municipalities where provincial highways went through built-up areas. So there was this long-term partnership and an expectation that that partnership would continue, and the provincial government would support up to 90% of the cost of Connecting Link projects.
When the Connecting Link Program was scrapped, it left a whole bunch of municipalities high and dry. Of course provincial governments encouraged the municipalities to do long-term infrastructure planning.
For example, the town of Halton Hills had $9.3 million in projects for the next few years along the Connecting Link through Georgetown that they expected to be funded by the provincial government for up to 90% of the cost. This is roadwork that needs to be done. Then, all of a sudden, they were left high and dry.
I realize my time is up, Mr. Speaker, and I don’t want to force you to cut me off again, so I’ll let it go. But at the same time, I implore the government to listen to what we have to say. I know you’re going to spend the money on infrastructure projects. I urge you to look at what we need to get done in Wellington-Halton Hills.