ESPANOLA—While he was optimistic following a meeting this fall with Minister of Transportation Glen Murray regarding concerns raised by the Billings, Assiginack and the North Shore municipalities over government funding toward operating and capital costs of their water treatment plants, and funding concerns the Town of Espanola, along with Island municipalities and First Nations, had with regards to needed repairs to the culvert crossing of Darkie Creek, just south of Espanola on a connecting link of Highway, Algoma-Manitoulin Michael Mantha has now expressed his disappointment with the message he has been provided in the past few days.
“I’m somewhat disappointed with the way the ministry has responded to these concerns,” said Mr. Mantha in an interview with the Recorder last week. “I had followed up on the previous meeting with the minister and what he has given now that in terms of the support for the Island municipalities and the North Shore on their water plants, the minister is looking at this in a more regional basis. Instead of looking to help individual communities in the near future, he said the government is looking at more regional financial assistance plans.”
“And the minister has given the signals that nothing is going to be happening very soon in terms of funding and costs being provided. It may mean the majority of the costs will have to come from the taxpayers,” said Mr. Mantha.
“On the issue of Highway 6, the town of Espanola has been denied in this round of funding through the Municipal Infrastructure Investment Initiative (MIII),” said Mr. Mantha. “When I heard this news I immediately brought this up with the minister to explain how dire this issue is,” said Mr. Mantha. “Not only for the town of Espanola but with each of the area First Nations, businesses and municipalities. There are a lot of people who depend on this highway for their businesses and work. If something were to ever happen to this culvert it would have a drastic impact on Manitoulin Island—this culvert is vital.
However, Mr. Mantha remains optimistic a solution will be found. “The minister said he would be following up with me in the next week or two on this issue,” he said.