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County Road 49 fund seeks $10 million in public donations

Council has declared County Road 49 a project of community interest to raise $10 million in donations and issue receipts for income tax purposes.

The declaration allows the launch of a community benefit fund to accept donations from residents and businesses toward funding up to one-third (estimated $10 million) of the projected $29.5 million rehabilitation cost. The funds collected become leverage to secure provincial and federal funding.

The fund was recommended by the new County Road 49 Working Group of Council established last month, and made up of Mayor Steve Ferguson and councillors Chris Braney, Dave Harrison, Brad Neiman, and Phil St- Jean.

The generally accepted model of cross-government funding is a three-way split between the federal, provincial, and municipal governments; therefore, the municipality would need to find $10 million to contribute to the project.

Municipal staff have already completed the design and planning work required for the reconstruction to be “shovel ready”, which means that as soon as funding is secured, the project can begin.

County Road 49 is a concrete road that connects Picton, with the Bay of Quinte Skyway Bridge – one of the highest volume entry-points into the County. County Road 49 was built in 1965 and opened in 1966 and in 1998, the province downloaded the roadway to the County, as part of amalgamation, and it became County Road 49. The roadway is 18.6kms, 17.5kms of which is concrete pavement.

The staff report notes that as far back as 2003, not long after the road was downloaded to the municipality, the County has been imploring the province to contribute to the reconstruction of this major thoroughfare which sees an annual average daily traffic of 6,450, 770 of which is truck traffic, as of 2019 (ArcGIS Historical Provincial Highway Traffic Volumes – Skyway Bridge).

Between the industrial and commercial truck traffic, visitor traffic, commuting workers from both sides of the bridge and residents going about their daily lives, County Road 49 sees a heavy traffic and has been deteriorating for some considerable time.

Currently, on average, County roads crews use three tons of cold patch on CR49 per week. Crews assess and repair the surface a minimum of once per week, except in extenuating circumstances such as weather events.

The average weekly cost of patch repairs, including material, equipment/vehicles and staffing is approximately $3,500 weekly or $182,000 annually.

There is an asset management plan that sets out what roads will be rehabilitated over the next five years, but it does not include County Road 49 given the overwhelming expense. The one-third cost of $10 million is beyond the means of the municipality’s tax base.

In the 2023 budget, council directed tourism-related revenue collected through the Municipal Accommodation Tax ($700,000) to the reserve for roads construction. In future years, this contribution could be directed to a specific road project, such as County Road 49.

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  1. Don says:

    The issue of Highway 49 will be a very interesting indicator of where Todd Smith’s priorities really lie. At some point, he is going to have to take a firm stand either on the side of the citizens who elected him or on the side of his boss, Doug Ford. So far, his failure to speak out on the issue suggests that he is choosing to stand with Doug. Too bad. In his last campaign, Mr. Smith told us that he was the best person to represent the people of this riding at Queen’s Park. Unfortunately, his actions regarding Highway 49 do not support that statement.

  2. Mike Rodgers says:

    Lower the speed limit, close parts as unsafe to use. Then tell the province to take it back. It still amazes me that a past council accepted this download while the section on the other side of the bridge is still provincial.

  3. Andy Bowers says:

    Somewhere in the budget of EIGHT BILLION DOLLARS the Ontario government wants to spend for approx 50km Highway 413 (from Vaughan to Milton), there must be enough fat to cut out to fix #49 promptly and properly without County residents having to hold bake sales.

  4. Michelle says:

    Good point. Our MPP Smith needs to address the issues and give a commitment to correct the failed download.

  5. Ian Ex-Pat says:

    I’m not sure that I ever understood the problem here.
    Many municipalities issue bonds to cover the cost of major expenses. Why isn’t PEC issuing a bond to cover the cost of County Road 49’s repair?
    This is not an issue that’s crept up on everyone. The road was transferred to the County almost 30 years ago. It’s the County’s cost now. If you want it fixed, fix it.
    Issue a bond, pay for the work and get it done.

  6. B Wilder says:

    Todd Smith’s email:
    Doug Ford’s email:

    Instead of expressing outrage in the comment section of this website, send those men an email. Someone said they can do whatever they want because “they are in charge.” No they were elected as “public servants”. Ultimately they must answer to the public.

  7. SS says:

    I agree with all of the outrage posted on this thread.

    County voters have done their part to get who they think is the right people in charge; i.e. Doug Ford and the Conservatives.

    But, I sincerely doubt the Province will ever accept responsibility again for this highway, at least as long as the current Premier is in charge.

    Doug Ford shows no sign of even engaging in this discussion, nor does our MPP, Todd Smith (also a Conservative).

    I’m not suggesting voters change their preferences.

    Just pointing out the fact that a) the current government is unlikely to change the status quo, and b) they have every right to ignore taxpayer criticism as long as they are in charge.

    Also: Focusing only on Highway 49 — as bad as it is — tends to take the pressure off our Council regarding the poor state of all sorts of other roads in the County.

    Does anyone know of a Facebook or other social media page where pictures (with date / time / location) can be posted of potholes and crumbling road shoulders?

    Everyone has their own pet peeves, but having a central place which is fully transparent would be helpful, I think.

  8. Carol says:

    This is not appropriate and I am shocked at this type of an approach. We need to stand up and scream from the roof tops in order for the Province to reinstate this as a Provincial Highway. Enough is enough, the Province needs to right the wrong. The Province benefits greatly from this road and the time is now for them to step up. That is where the 49 Committee’s efforts should be and settle for nothing less. Coming to the taxpayer to donate is utterly insulting!

  9. TIP says:

    Perhaps the Gov’t can contribute some dollars from the $22B surplus the Premier is sitting on for repairs to this road.

  10. Gary says:

    It’s a Ford Government issue to right the wrong. It”s that simple. Lay it on them or just shut it down as unsafe, which it is now.

  11. Marie says:

    This is outrageous. The local residents, many of whom have lived here their whole lives (and for several generations) have watched the place they loved and contributed to become a playground for wealthy city retirees and tourists at the expense of their tax dollars and their quality of life. You want to raise money for road repair? Charge the tourists! It’s bad enough that we’ve lost our way of life, an affordable cost of living, not to mention precious natural habitat and the wildlife that used to inhabit it…now you want us to pay even more while we continue to get less and less benefit from our tax dollars. Shame on you!

  12. Don says:

    I must be old because I can remember when governments worked together to provide things like schools, hospitals, parks, recreation facilities, fire departments, libraries, policing, roads, water and sewage treatment, and a number of other basic public services. I also remember when our taxes were a fraction of what they are today but somehow paid for all of these things and when our elected officials showed realistic leadership and tried to do what was best for the people who paid those taxes. Those days are gone. Now we have a municipal council that seems to think that higher taxes should pay for less and that the needs of tourists and developers should take priority over those of the citizens who live here. I miss those days. Perhaps we can reminisce about them at the bake sales and garage sales that Council will be organizing to pay for CR 49.

  13. Teena says:

    A very respectful adjustment to your post, Judy. Perhaps it should read “This is what you get when you trust ANY government”. I suspect each political party would do the same, given the opportunity.

  14. Jon neville says:

    I think there should be a meeting with the Province about taking that highway back or fund the repair fairly. Perhaps a friendly remark about the next election.

  15. Henri Garand says:

    The proposal for a Hwy 49 “charity” indicates council’s desperation in finding a means to fund road repair. It’s also a test of the dissatisfaction of complainants. If people who use the road won’t pay to fix it, what is the alternative? Both federal and provincial governments, it seems, require cost sharing. Will council have to raise taxes? Assuming there are 10,000 households on the municipal tax roll, taxes would have to increase on average $1000 per household in order to raise $10 million. Ready for a taxpayer revolt!

    Besides probably unfeasible tolls, maybe council should consider a special levy on Lehigh Cement (or Heidelberg Materials) and Picton Terminals as heavy and destructive highway users.

  16. Judy says:

    The provincial government has millions of dollars in surplus due to the egregious cuts to education and privatization of our hospitals. They have the money to fix a road that rightly belongs to them. We should never have allowed them to pass that buck and they are gleefully laughing all the way to the bank! Our council should be calling Todd Smith daily to ensure it is top of mind! This is what you get when you trust a Conservative government! When will we learn?!

  17. Barb says:

    Take it from the almost $4k I already pay you in property taxes per year

  18. JB says:

    What a ridiculous plan. Donations from County residents should be encouraged for traditional needs like the new hospital or library. Diverting donation solicitations and the resulting funds to a road that should be funded another way will only hurt the institutions that really need those donations!

  19. Susan says:

    This was hoped to be a concerted effort to get the Province to step up and correct the injustice of a download at a highway’s end of life! What do we get, a Go Fund Me for over-taxed County residents. Close the road down except for local land and homeowners.

  20. Charles says:

    Tell the government to pay! We are taxed to the limit. We have MP’s for a reason…do your job!

  21. Fred says:

    Astounded by the out right nerve of Council to ask residents for donations to fix 49! Unbelievable. Close the road to local traffic only. Or just give it back to the Province. You need to get Provincial attention.

  22. County Cal says:

    The article states 6,450 vehicles a day, but at $2 per vehicle that still comes to $4,592,400 a year. So, you could charge $4 to get $9 million in one year or spread it over a couple of years.

    You could give PEC residents a passcard and only charge the visitors. That’ll probably mean different numbers here but I’m sure this can still be figured out.

    Only problem is that once a toll is introduced is it ever gonna go away?

  23. Kayla Mills says:

    make the tourist pay for it ! we already ppay taxes here just to be told we have to pay to park at a local park or be told we can’t go to our local beach because you have giving it away to tourist. have you ask us to pay for the roads when most of us can’t afford to live because you have raise the cost of living in this town to ridiculous amounts. you keep allowing city people to move her and build million dollars house but can’t fix the road. this town is now what is used to be . this town should be ashamed of what we did to our once beautiful and peaceful little town.

  24. Kevin says:

    Not our responsibility. Why not ask the big trucks, visitors and huge trailer towers for some money? Why should the residents keep paying? Go back to Queens’ Park. This is ludicrous. Shady political dealings is what got us into this mess. I already paid my taxes, thank you.

  25. Jeff Douglass says:

    Come on? When I heard this I almost stroked out. Fundraising to fix a public road is just gone too far. The truck traffic needs to be paying tolls if anyone. That is the traffic that is eating up this infrastructure. The County’s 30M budget is another wild guess. I image they want chip and tar it too.
    I read the article in the paper about Base 31 and 10 000 houses on the hill. How are these roads ever going to support this?
    We’re building a new hospital without doctors. Adding 20K to the population without water or sewer. The infrastructure that we have needs to updated and maintained before one more house is built! The rich developers from Toronto need to pay(pave) their way into the Country if they want to come and upset our way of living.

  26. Michelle says:

    Premier Ford keeps bragging that his Gov’t is building roads and Highways! Well any better place to backup those words?

  27. Nelson says:

    why not let people adopt a kilometre and maintain that section themselves? I, for one, will implement WIDE LANES on my section instead of a passing lane up the hill from the bridge.
    maybe lease out the side shoulders to farmers, as there isn’t enough agricultural land around from what I read?
    sell busking and craft stand licenses to local artisans for all intersection soft shoulders?
    close down sections on weeknights and run a PINKS ALL OUT style outlaw street racing event with paid participants? implement chain gangs to repair the roads?

    I know this is real news. I know this is real life. Why do I feel like I’m reading “the onion” though?

  28. Mark Woodward says:

    This is sheer craziness and a slap in the face to tax paying residents. Yes walk away from this road and apply more pressure to the Provincial Gov’t to correct their underhanded download to the Municipality. Gas, smoke and weed shops make a fortune across the bridge on a pristine Highway 49, but the gateway to the Province’s Sand Banks Park and major tourist area is left in shambles. This is not the leadership I expected by this 49 Committee. Quit begging your residents for more $$ and get to Queens Park!

  29. David Thomas says:

    I’m sorry, but this is an embarrassment. Providing infrastructure to its citizens is a core responsibility of governments, funded through taxation. This is beyond the pale.

  30. Ron says:

    Perhaps Council should have a fundraising car wash or set up a lemonade stand outside Shire Hall! If I have to decide where to give my donations, how do I choose: new hospital build, library addition, Hospice, food bank, property taxes, water bill? They want us to give more yet keep giving developers a break on fees

  31. Roland Gillespie says:

    The municipality should follow the example of the province: walk away from this (former) highway. The province abandoned its responsibility, by downloading this highway onto the shoulders of PEC taxpayers, just when the road was beginning to show its age and serious degradation. Thank you, Mike Harris and the Regressive Conservative party.

  32. Phil P says:

    Wow thought i made my donation to road repair 3 times a year like every other property owner. Come on council let’s find a way to have our visitors help fund this project so maybe everyone could benefit from tourism.Not just the same group year after year

  33. DAVID S says:

    A toll on the south bound traffic just south of County Rd 15 makes a lot of sense. It should be easily shown that the majority of this traffic does not contribute to the Provincial Road Tax for the benefit of PEC which is needed to remediate the road.
    A booth could be incorporated into a “Gateway to PEC” sign, and should not require a $500,000 consultant’s design fee.
    David S

  34. Gary says:

    I as well do not believe $30,000,000 would cover the replacement costs. That estimate is near two years old. As for donations I just cannot come to terms with that approach. The Province needs to right their wrong and reassign Cty Rd 49 as a Provincial Highway. That’s where the pressure needs to bear!

  35. Annie says:

    Given that 6,450 vehicles use this road on an annual basis, charge a toll. $2 per vehicle would gross $13,000,000 in one year. The majority of vehicles are tourists and I’m sure they would gladly pay to get to the beaches. Those who live on the road would have a “pass”. Daily users could purchase a monthly pass, along with trucks and service vehicles. Ferry traffic and traffic through Belleville would increase for a short while, but once the novelty of the toll road wears off, the local residents would also pay toll for the convenience of its usage. Needs some thought and work but it is a possibility.

  36. Diane says:

    I’ve always been so happy to help wherever I can and volunteer regularly at the Hospital Auxiliary Second Time Around Shop, donate my used clothes and household items to Community Care for Seniors, gladly donated to the Syrian family who lost their home in the fire etc., etc.

    But asking me to help fix County Rd. 49? Ain’t gonna happen!

  37. Bruce Nicholson says:

    If the request is for donations, it would be prudent to disclose the “design and planning” to the public. Considering the $30M price tag, I am curious what outside expertise went into the process.
    That $30M is today’s estimate and experience has proved, when the project actually starts the price tag will likely be higher.

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