By Deron Johnson
Back in 2017, the North Grenville Times created an online survey on public transit. The questions were focused on trying to determine if people felt there was a need for a transit system and if people would be comfortable seeing a limited amount of money in the annual municipal budget for a transit system (above the revenue generated by user fees) among other topics. The survey results indicated that 76% of respondents wanted to see a transit system. A total of 61% of people were comfortable with a limited amount of money incorporated into the municipal budget for maintaining a transit system.
With the recent announcement from the federal government that North Grenville will be receiving double the usual amount of federal gas tax funding (which translates to approximately $1 million compared to the usual $500,000), it appears there’s an extra $500,000 that is available to be invested in a project that meets the eligibility requirements like establishing a public transit system.
Another interesting recent development is MPP and Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs Steve Clark’s news that North Grenville would be receiving a one-time payment of $632,832 from the provincial government for service delivery enhancements which could include “capital investments and other projects”.
Additionally, as of April 2, 2019, the first intake was announced for federal and provincial funding for public transit infrastructure focused on public transit systems outside the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area. Eighty-five municipal governments were able to nominate public transit projects through the Grants Ontario website. According to the Association of Municipalities Ontario, the funds available are $1.62 billion of the overall $15.6 billion in federal and provincial transit funds under the Investing In Canada Plan.
In February 2018, the Municipality of North Grenville applied for a $500,000 grant from the provincial Community Transportation Grant Program. The grant focused on the creation of an internal service route in Kemptville and enhancements to the current accessible transportation services provided by the former North Grenville Accessible Transportation (NGAT) organization. These services are now provided by a local business called Allegiance Transportation Services (ATS) who also provide a commuter service on weekdays to Ottawa. Though the grant application was not successful, the work that was put into the original proposal could be very useful to a future application.
It certainly appears that the financial stars are aligning for a project like the creation of a public transit system. An initiative like this would appear to connect strategically with the current efforts being made by Mayor Nancy Peckford’s Affordable Housing Task Force. The mayor herself has mentioned an interest in looking at transit in North Grenville as recently as the last Committee of the Whole meeting. With potentially over $1 million already available locally before considering an application for further grant funding, it would appear that the time to pull the trigger on creating a customized “Made In North Grenville” transit system may have arrived. Stay tuned.