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Breakfast with MPs focuses on eastern Ontario concerns

Robert Quaiff

Robert Quaiff

Mayor Robert Quaiff  contributed to talks on the importance of improved roads funding, cell phone service and economic sustainability for Prince Edward County while in Ottawa on Tuesday.

Quaiff was attending his first Parliamentary Breakfast with MPs as a member of the Eastern Ontario Wardens Caucus (EOWC). The caucus includes 13 municipalities in eastern Ontario.

“Our goal is to share information and engage in meaningful dialogue with a view to gaining a better understanding and appreciation of the issues at hand,” said Quaiff. “We had the opportunity to meet with our MPs to discuss several issues that are important to our residents.”

Topics included the $170 million Eastern Ontario Regional Network (EORN ) project completion of rural broadband service and cell gap analysis.

“There continues to be gaps in cellular coverage throughout eastern Ontario. As our population becomes more reliant on wireless technology, the EOWC has taken the lead and completed an analysis of existing cell gaps, with a view to using this data to develop a strategy to mitigate this problem to the greatest extent possible,” said Quaiff.

“Our ask on projected costs to improve coverage and capacity for eastern Ontario is approximately $153.7 M, $107,992.00 for coverage and $45,765,000 for capacity. Approximately 130 new towers, industry standard are required. Currently 153,000 households in eastern Ontario have inadequate coverage.”

Caucus members also discussed the ‘Small Community Fund’, noting eligibility criteria for funding improvements to local roadways should be reduced from 3,000 average annual daily traffic (AADT) to 2,000 AADT, to facilitate access by more municipalities to this source of funds.

“We all understand and appreciate how vital roadways are to rural communities, and lowering the threshold to 2,000 will allow greater access to local or lower-tier municipalities. Many municipal roads, even upper-tier roads, currently do not meet the 3,000 AADT threshold.”

The EOWC is continuing its research and advocacy efforts to assess financial sustainability of local governments across eastern Ontario. In 2013 and 2014, the EOWC completed and distributed five White Papers – covering municipal infrastructure, affordability, ratepayer affordability, environmental services and social housing. Their studies demonstrated municipalities are facing a $3.4 billion shortfall, and that neither use of existing reserves nor issuing more debt would solve the problem.
The caucus is advocating a long-term provincial infrastructure program with permanent funding.

“The nature of intergovernmental relations continues to evolve in a positive manner, and it is our hope that we can continue to work even more closely with our partners at the federal level to best accommodate the needs of our residents,” said Quaiff.

The EOWC’s first priority in 2015 is to implement key actions over the next three years developed following a year-long collaboration between the EOWC, the Eastern Ontario Mayors’ Committee (EOMC), the business and academic communities and supported financially by the provincial and federal governments.

Filed Under: Local News


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