Municipality gets provincial gas tax funding increase


By Barb McKay


The Municipality of Kincardine will see an increase to its provincial gas tax allocation for 2016.


The provincial government recently announced that it will distribute approximately $333 million to municipalities throughout Ontario. The funding is used for infrastructure needs, as well as to improve transportation and accessibility. Kincardine will receive a little more than $339,000, up from $332,000 in 2015. That amount is expected to increase to $356,000 by 2018.


Mayor Anne Eadie told The Independent that council will receive recommendations from municipal staff on how to best use the funds and will discuss it during the upcoming 2016 budget meetings. In recent years, the provincial gas tax allocation has been placed in reserves to fund the leachate treatment facility at the waste management centre. The facility is expected to cost roughly $6 million and to be constructed next year.


*In other funding news, the municipality will not receive Ontario Community Infrastructure Funding to replace the Browns Hill Bridge.


The municipality received a letter from a representative of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) indicating that Kincardine’s expression of interest for funding through the infrastructure program is not being considered.


“Your project proposal was not selected to move forward primarily because other applicants with highly critical projects had more challenging economic conditions and fiscal situations,” Joel Locklin, program operations manager of OMAFRA, told CAO Murray Clarke in a letter.


In considering applications, the Ministry looked at average household incomes, property assessments, average residential property taxes and average net household financial assets.


Eadie said she found it concerning that the decision was not made based on the needs of the project. Deputy mayor Jacqueline Faubert agreed, adding that by expecting the municipality to raise the funds through the tax rate, the Ministry is not considering individuals on fixed incomes, such as seniors.


*A number of businesses in downtown Kincardine and Tiverton have an opportunity to improve their accessibility.


The municipality’s accessibility advisory committee is working with students at Kincardine and District Secondary School to build lightweight, removable ramps that businesses with a single step can place outside to assist individuals who use wheelchairs, walkers, canes and strollers. The ramp would be placed outside at the request of a customer and then brought back inside the business when it is no longer required.


The partnership was established to participate in a community ramp project through the StopGap Foundation, which promotes accessibility in communities and encourages businesses to work with volunteers. The municipality will provide the materials for the ramp and the accessibility advisory committee will cover the costs.


Businesses that are interested in receiving a ramp can fill out a community ramp project survey form from the municipality and provide a certificate of insurance.