by Deron Johnston
When North Grenville Mayor Nancy Peckford stepped to the podium this past Wednesday morning to reflect on the major announcement made just seconds earlier by Provincial Minister of Rural Affairs and Housing Steve Clark, about an approval for funding much needed upgrades to County Road 43 (CR 43), she was beaming. And she had every right to be.
Since taking office in late fall, the self-proclaimed “squeaky wheel” has been just that. She seemingly has never passed up an opportunity at North Grenville Council meetings, United Counties of Leeds & Grenville Council (UCLG) meetings, community events or at other public speaking engagements to champion necessary upgrades to CR 43.
On Wednesday, she stressed that upgrading CR 43 has been the top infrastructure priority for the UCLG as fully supported by UCLG Warden Pat Sayeau and County Council (UCLG are responsible for CR 43), something she has made sure of in her repeated dealings with the other levels of government. It has also been one of our new Mayor’s top priorities as well. On Wednesday, the first phase of those upgrades took a giant step closer to becoming a reality.
The CR 43 file actually began back in 2005 with the North Grenville Public Works Department. To get it to this stage, it has required a constellation of forces, including a determined and tenacious Mayor, a focused Warden, who kept CR 43 at the top of the priority list, the sustained efforts of MPP and now Minister Steve Clark, and the ongoing commitment of MP Michael Barrett and his predecessor MP Gord Brown, among numerous other individual efforts.
At Wednesday’s announcement, several mayors from neighbouring municipalities in the UCLG were in attendance, demonstrating the significance of the announcement for Eastern Ontario as CR 43 sees on average 18,500 vehicles travel it on a daily basis.
This funding application for the first phase of CR 43 upgrades will be for the 1.15km section of road from the bridge (but not including the bridge) on CR 43 to the intersection of CR 43 and CR 44. This section of road, for which the Counties and Municipality made a joint application, was nominated by the provincial government last week and will now be forwarded on to the federal government for final approval.
The funding application itself was made to the bilateral program “Canada Infrastructure Program, Rural and Northern Stream” in the amount of $9,999,240. Any application for $10 million or more would have meant applying to a completely different program that would have had less chance of success.
The majority of funding for major municipal infrastructure in this fund comes from the federal level, with additional investment coming from the provincial level. With previous funding programs, the provincial government has been responsible for the management and distribution of funding, but for this particular program, the federal government represents the final stage in the approval process for federally based funding.
The breakdown of the funding commitment is as follows: the federal government will be requested to contribute approximately $5 million, while the provincial government has agreed to contribute$3.4 million and the UCLG and the Municipality of North Grenville will contribute a combined $1.6million. North Grenville will only need to contribute about $222,700 to this first phase of the project, all of which is already sitting in a reserve fund. North Grenville’s commitment includes paying for sidewalks, pedestrian lighting, landscaping and bike paths.
The total cost of the entire CR 43 upgrades project is estimated to be a minimum of $25 million. During a crucial meeting earlier this spring, Mayor Peckford and Warden Sayeau worked effectively to ensure that all ten mayors at Counties Council made a unanimous commitment to seeing all phases of the project completed via County and Municipal financing and other funding opportunities.
The current UCLG drawings for the entire project are considered to be 90% complete, which means that most of the major work represented on the drawings will be done, but there may be some smaller changes or “tweaking” through each phase of the project. Mayor Peckford wanted to assure residents that there will be further opportunities for consultation regarding key pedestrian crossings and other features.
With construction work expected to begin in 2020, North Grenville CAO, Brian Carre, states “Municipal staff, in partnership with the UCLG Public Works Division, will engage with affected residents and businesses to ensure all associated contractors adhere to agreed upon mitigation measures throughout the construction project”.
Minister Clark remarked that because of the extensive work done by both levels of municipal government, the urgent needs of a growing municipality, and the announced approval by the provincial government, he anticipated a fairly quick approval from the federal government supported by the ongoing efforts of MP Michael Barrett.