Some Island funding requests forwarded for federal approval

Work to the 10th Sideroad will hopefully alleviate flooding problems like this in the future. Expositor file photo

ALGOMA-MANITOULIN – The province of Ontario has approved a number of infrastructure projects in Algoma-Manitoulin that have been proposed by a number of municipalities, with the projects now moving on to the federal approval stage.

In the Manitoulin area, the Township of Cockburn Island is receiving $755,065 to improve the safety of the intersection of the 12th Concession and the 15th Sideroad. The Municipality of Central Manitoulin is receiving $1,236,000 to replace the bridge on Union Road. The Municipality of Killarney is slated to receive $1,923,126.80 to rehabilitate Hartley Bay Road and complete a realignment.

The Township of Tehkummah is the biggest winner in the provincial riding, receiving $2,358,564 to rehabilitate the 10th Sideroad and Concession 6.

When asked about the funding announcement for the replacement of the Union Road Bridge (within Central Manitoulin’s portion of that roadway), Central Manitoulin Mayor Richard Stephens expressed surprise. “We haven’t heard back officially yet,” said Mayor Stephens, when contacted by The Expositor Monday about the funding. 

The funding announcement from the province was released on Friday, May 10 and indicates that the project will now go ahead for approval by the federal government. “I guess we will have to wait for the feds to decide before we make any kind of comment,” said Mayor Stephens.

As for whether the project itself is important to the community, Mayor Stephens didn’t skip a beat. “Absolutely,” he said. “We have had this on our list for quite a number of years now. It was always a project that was too big a bite for our municipality to chew on our own. If it is true, and the funding comes through, it will be very good news for our community.”

Tehkummah’s clerk-administrator Roy Hardy said this was an important announcement.

“It’s good for the township. There’s some issues obviously that we have to deal with as a result of some wetter summers and springs,” said Mr. Hardy. “That’s going to help with some issues on the 10th (Sideroad) and provide some relief for the spring flooding over the past couple of years.”

The desire to rehabilitate the 10th Sideroad has been ongoing for a considerable amount of time.

Increased traffic pressure last summer due to the 10th Sideroad being used as a detour during construction on Highway 542 further deteriorated the road’s condition.

Tehkummah council has previously completed some initial engineering work and must now finalize the design to ensure the road will meet the township’s needs in the long-term.

The township of Cockburn Island was unable to provide comment to The Expositor by press time. Including the figure for Killarney, these four Manitoulin-area municipalities will receive just over 65 percent of the $9.6 million allocated for the provincial riding of Algoma-Manitoulin.

“Ontario’s government, saddled with the largest subnational debt in the world, is protecting what matters most by investing in critical infrastructure projects like the ones in Algoma-Manitoulin,” states a press release from Ontario Minister of Infrastructure Monte McNaughton. Although the claim of the largest sub-national debt is rooted in fact, it may be misleading due to vast differences in national and sub-national funding models in the US and Canada.

The release states that Minister McNaughton launched the intake process for the $30 billion integrated bilateral Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program this spring. These projects are part of the $500-million fund dedicated to rural and Northern municipalities.

Priorities in the funding stream include investments in roads, bridges, air and marine infrastructure. Once the federal government approves these projects, they will be ready to move into the execution phase.