Renfrew County calling for a national transportation strategy
Petawawa Mayor Bob Sweet is opposed to the recommendations of a provincial panel calling for an increase in the gas tax to fund mostly transit infrastructure in Toronto and Hamilton.
With its railroads gone and highway limited to two lanes, Renfrew County will be calling for the federal government to develop a national transportation strategy.
The county’s operations committee reviewed a letter from Ontario transportation minister Bob Chiarelli seeking a promise of long-term investment from the federal government to address aging infrastructure.
Federal funding commitments worth $2 billion a year under the Building Canada Plan, an initiative that addresses national, regional and local infrastructure priorities are set to end in 2014. Over the past 12 months, Ottawa has been conducting consultations with provinces, territories, municipalities and key stakeholders in a series of roundtables to guide the development of a new long-term infrastructure plan.
In his letter, Chiarelli emphasized that without effective and efficient transportation networks, transit, water and wastewater systems, Ontario communities will be unable to compete in the global economy. Under its report “Building Canada Together: Ontario’s Recommendations for the Federal Long-Term Infrastructure Plan,“ the province wants the county to endorse its call for Ottawa to focus investments in strategic core economic infrastructure, such as highways, roads and bridges. Chiarelli also wants a national transit strategy for cities, however, the committee agreed a national transportation strategy is what is really needed.
“I think that’s lacking,” said Warden Bob Sweet. “That was clear when we lost the CP Rail.”
Sweet said that with such a document they could have pushed stronger to keep the Canadian Pacific Railway line throughout the county and the Canadian National Beachburg Subdivision, which is on the bubble to be decommissioned and dismantled. Any resolution to Queen’s Park needs to contain such a request, he added.
“I’d like to see something in there that addresses that bigger issue,” he said.
Dave Darch, the county’s director of public works and engineering, recommended the committee endorse the province’s position paper and place it before county council at their November meeting.
Sean Chase is a Daily Observer multimedia journalist