MANITOULIN—More questions than answers arose among members of the Manitoulin Transportation Group (MTG) after the group met last week to look at implementing what had come out of a report provided involving an online survey of Manitoulin Island residents.
Previously, Guy Dumas of MTG had told the Recorder that the group would be taking apart the survey findings and coming up with a tentative plan for its implementation. He pointed out the initiative had started out as looking at local transit solutions for the Island, but had become more of an inter-community municipality transportation initiative.
After the meetings last week Mr. Dumas told the Recorder, “we had our meetings, right now we’re just going to share the information with other members of the group first to determine if we are going to proceed with the broad direction from the community or look at a different strategy and how to implement what we discovered in the study. I can tell you it would be a lot bigger than anyone expected.”
“We need to decide if we are looking at a new strategy or taking the issue of transportation on the Island to another level,” said Mr. Dumas. Although not inclined to provide details at this time he pointed out what was found in the survey to implement the results, “will take more than a loosely structured group to make it work with all the challenges and gaps in service. Who decides, for instance, which area or strategy for development is most important?”
“Yes, the survey results provided a lot more questions than anything else,” said Mr. Dumas. He pointed out, “transit seems to be an afterthought of business, government and institutions when looking at structures.”
“That is why we as a group are having difficulty looking at different issues and addressing them, basically that should be something government should be doing,” said Mr. Dumas.
“I have asked the committee for their input on what we should do next and we will be holding a critical public meeting May 14,” continued Mr. Dumas. “We will be putting the issue of transit on Manitoulin Island on the table and there will be copies of the report there for the public to look at. The current report is not for public viewing at this point. In fact we’re having it rewritten because of the same discussions we had last week in regards to the survey that was carried out.”
“May 14 is a critical day in all of this and my question is ‘will anyone show up?” stated Mr. Dumas. “The past record of our (MTG) holding meetings has been dismal in terms of numbers of people that show up. That is one of the problems that we have been having as we head into all of this. I’ve been working at this since 2016 and we are still pulling teeth to get anyone to come to the table and start actually contributing to the process.”
He pointed to another challenge, the financial investment of others to take the process to the next level, noting that the municipality of Central Manitoulin had contributed by making the original funding application for the study’s survey that was conducted and sent to the province. However, Central Manitoulin is the only stakeholder across the Island that has carried this type of contribution forward.
“We are going to hold this public meeting May 14. This will be last opportunity for Manitoulin Island stakeholders to take ownership of the transit model for Manitoulin.” He added, “a transit system is going to happen, how this will take place is going to be the challenge and the question that will need to be answered.”