All County, All the Time Since 2010 MAKE THIS YOUR PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY HOME...PAGE!  Friday, December 8th, 2023

Council asked to direct tourism funds toward fixing County Road 49

UPDATE: Council approved looking at the use of tourism generated funds for County Road 49 when it begins budget deliberations for 2024.

Council was told the $3 million repair estimate is the newest available and that the project as an asphalt road in the full life cycle cost is still a cheaper way to go than building a cement road. It was noted municipal staff have also had conversations with the ministry of transportation which indicated they are moving away from cement roads in these types of situations.

“We’re putting our best foot forward,” said Mayor Steve Ferguson. “There is a buzz in the community. It is not our intent to raise property taxes to pay for Highway 49. Our intent is to hold the provincial and federal government’s accountable for the years of disrepair. That is our main objective.”

He added the move would also answer a common question about what tourism is giving the county – as the municipal accommodations tax is tourism-generated revenue.

Council is being asked to direct up to $1 million from tourism-related revenue toward the municipal portion of fixing County Road 49 – for consideration in the proposed 2024 capital budget.

CAO Marcia Wallace, in a County Road 49 Rehabilitation Council Working Group update to council at Tuesday night’s meeting, speaks to efforts of the group since it was formed in May. The group includes Mayor Steve Ferguson, councillors Chris Braney, David Harrison, Brad Nieman and Phil St.-Jean, the CAO and staff as required.

“The Working Group would like to see up to $1 million directed to the County Road 49 rehabilitation project as a clear signal that any local fundraising efforts would not impact local taxpayers through a tax increase,” her report notes.

For this year, $800,000 of the municipal share of the Municipal Accommodation Tax (MAT) was directed by council to rural road rehabilitation as part of the capital budget.

The reconstruction of County Road 49 is estimated to cost $30 million and the municipality seeks to raise one-third of the costs to use as leverage for getting federal and provincial governments to fund an equal share.

Typically, funding is shared equally between the three levels of government.

Despite applying for funding and lobbying for this project in past years, the municipality has so far not been successful in gaining provincial and federal dollars, noted Wallace, “given the large project cost and lack of upper-level government funding streams that would address a project of this size.”

It is hoped collection of the municipality’s share – about $10 million – would demonstrate local commitment to having the road fixed and be a bargaining tool in advocating for provincial and federal funds. Earlier this month council supported making the road a ‘project of community interest’ which allows donation receipts for income tax purposes for members of the community and businesses.

Mayor Ferguson, on behalf of the Working Group, has sent letters to both ministers Caroline Mulroney (Ontario Transportation) and Dominic LeBlanc (Canada Intergovernmental Affairs, Infrastructure and Communities) seeking funding and meetings to discuss the road further. Copies were also sent to MPP Todd Smith and MP Ryan Williams.

In the letters, Ferguson speaks to “the deplorable condition” of County Road 49 and adds the municipality has completed all the studies required to be “shovel-ready” to apply for provincial and federal funding.

“The County has invested $153,074 in a feasibility study, and $178,849 in a design study, but we cannot fund this $30-million rehabilitation project alone due to the sheer length of the road, its advanced state of disrepair, and the need to address other infrastructure pressures faced by the municipality.”

The average weekly cost to the County’s ratepayers for patch repairs, including material, equipment, vehicles, and staffing is approximately $3,500, or $182,000 annually.

Built in 1965 and opened in 1966, the province of Ontario downloaded the 18.6km concrete road in the County in 1998.

“At that time the roadway was already in a state of disrepair and over the years its condition has worsened despite our best efforts to maintain maintenance standards,” states Ferguson.

The road, one of four entry points to the County, again received attention on the CAA top 10 list of worst roads in Ontario, as it has for the past five years.

The mayor asked for meetings in their Toronto and Ottawa offices, and again also invited both ministers to the County to “see first-hand the continuing deterioration of the road.”

Council meets at 7 p.m. at Shire Hall. The meeting is to be live-streamed, recorded and available on the internet by visiting the County’s website.

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  1. Mike Rodgers says:

    Would it not make sense to do the highway over 3 years, and out of concrete. Asphalt will need to be done in 5 to 7 years with the traffic this highway sees. concrete should last 10 to 15.

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