Ted Arnott, MPP
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 21, 2015
Government reverses course on Connecting Link
(Queen’s Park) – More than two years after blindsiding Ontario municipalities by cancelling the Connecting Link program without warning or consultation, the Liberal Government has suddenly reversed course and said that the program will be restored in some form.
The Government announced yesterday that they are committing $15 million annually to a new Connecting Link program to help municipalities cover the cost of construction on connecting link roadways – municipal roads that connect communities to provincial highways and border crossings.
“The cancellation of the original Connecting Link program created huge problems for
municipalities like the Town of Halton Hills and the Township of Centre Wellington,” said
Wellington-Halton Hills MPP Ted Arnott. “Implicitly, the Government is admitting that they made a mistake by cancelling the program in the first place.”
Before the Liberals cancelled it, the Connecting Link program had provided municipalities with a stable source of funding for up to 90% of the cost of necessary road and bridge repairs on provincial highways passing through built up areas. The program had been in place since the 1920s.
“I want to thank our municipal leaders for speaking up,” said Mr. Arnott. “Many of our elected Councillors in Wellington-Halton Hills have been persistently vocal about their disappointment with the Government’s decision.”
The Government’s abrupt decision to cancel Connecting Link in 2013 had a huge impact on
both the Town of Halton Hills and the Township of Centre Wellington. The Township of Centre Wellington had been planning to repair the St. David Street Bridge in Fergus at an estimated cost of $2.6 million, as well as carry out an additional $1.2 million of work on St. David Street.
Similarly, the Town of Halton Hills had been planning $9.3 million of work on Connecting Link roadways over a 5 year period. Both municipalities had been expecting the Province to cover up to 90% of these costs.
“Essentially, the Government just pulled the rug out from under them without any warning and left them high and dry,” said Mr. Arnott.
Since the Connecting Link program was cancelled in January 2013, Mr. Arnott had repeatedly raised the issue with the Government, most recently in a speech in the Legislature just last week on April 16. His colleagues in the PC Caucus vocally supported municipalities on the issue.
While Mr. Arnott is cautiously optimistic about the restoration of the Connecting Link program, he warned that the details are still sketchy.
“Despite this announcement, the Government has left a lot of questions unanswered,” pointed out Mr. Arnott. “Is this announcement new money, or is it just a shell game and a reallocation of previously promised funding to municipalities? Will the Government still be funding 90% of the costs like it used to? They haven’t said.”
Mr. Arnott also pointed out that the $15 million commitment is considerably less than what the Government has spent in some previous years under the old program.
“For example, the Government allocated $25.3 million in 2007/08 and $24.3 million in 2009/10 in Connecting Link funding,” he noted. “We hope this $15 million is only a start.”
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