MMA supports UMIT gas tax fund proposal, in principle


MANITOULIN – The Manitoulin Municipal Association (MMA) supports in principle a request from United Manitoulin Islands Transit (UMIT) group to apply for a portion of the government gas tax fund, that would be used to go toward UMIT expanding its service to include other areas of the Island for its bus service. Municipalities receive government gas tax funds, but because until now there was no public transportation on Manitoulin Island, they have not been able to apply for the two cents per dollar provided to municipalities with public transit.

“Good evening, it’s good to be here at this meeting,” said Joahnna Berti, executive director of UMIT, at a MMA teleconference meeting last week. “What we are hoping to get support on from the MMA is for UMIT to be able to leverage the municipal gas tax fund transportation funds.” She pointed out the UMIT bus service was officially launched on August 17 and provides bussing services between Mindemoya and Manitowaning, via Little Current. 

Ms. Berti pointed out UMIT is requesting MMA support for the group to apply to the Ministry of Transportation for the public transit portion of the gas tax fund, to expand service-routes in other local locations, including Western Manitoulin.  

UMIT president Guy Dumas told the meeting, “it is a pleasure to be back meeting with the MMA again. It was in 2017 that Maureen Strickland and I first presented our concept for a public transportation service on the Island and it has taken us many years to get to this point. He said the service is client/customer driven and provides several benefits to the Island, including public transportation, cost savings for organizations and co-operative members and economic benefits.

“The UMIT public transit service is for all of Manitoulin Island, residents, visitors and guests. That builds on the benefits I mentioned because it provides increased transit prosperity,” said Mr. Dumas. “Our ultimate aim is to have a world class public transit system for Manitoulin Island. When I say this sometimes people look at me as if I’m crazy; I use this as incentive. This can be done on Manitoulin and with the help of the municipalities and others we can create this.” 

“I have a question for Joahnna,” MMA Chair Ken Noland said. “Are you asking for support in applying for the gas tax funding that is provided by the province to municipalities?” 

Ms. Berti explained under the gas tax fund, “municipalities receive dedicated funds of five cents of every dollar, which goes into municipal transit infrastructure (roads and bridges). There is also two cents per dollar provided to municipalities who have public transit. We are asking for support to apply for the  dedicated transit portion (which Island municipalities do not currently receive).”
“This seems like a no brainer to me,” stated Mr. Noland, who indicated his municipality would probably support this. 

Billings Mayor Ian Anderson wondered if UMIT has a package put together for municipal staff to look at so they can provide a proper response to UMIT. Ms. Berti indicated she will forward this to all local municipalities.

“Once we get the information our staff will be able to dig deeper into the request,” said Al MacNevin, mayor of the Town of Northeastern Manitoulin and the Islands (NEMI). “Currently, municipalities are eligible for two cents per dollar of tax paid on gas (those with public transportation). As Ken said this seems to be a no-brainer and I expect our council would support this.”

A motion was passed by the MMA supporting in principle the request from UMIT.