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MP Williams links funding for 49 with support for EVs, Picton Terminals and green cement

By Sharon Harrison
Addressing council Tuesday evening, Ryan Williams, MP for Bay of Quinte there are three important issues in the region now, namely, housing and infrastructure, mental health and addiction, and jobs. Important to the County, he also spoke to the way to encourage upper governments to help fix County Road 49.

“We’ve got a lot of different issues we are working on as a country, and certainly there are a lot as a region, so it’s important to tell you what I am working on now, what’s important to me in this region, but also how we work together,” said Williams.

COUNTY ROAD 49

Ryan Williams

“Count me in your corner when it comes to Highway 49. That is a project that you have my full support on,” said Williams, where he revealed the angle that is going to work to get the province’s and the feds attention is connected to the EV (electric vehicle) supply chain.

“The new plant that we have in Bath, $1.2 million for battery components, and that’s cathodes, and they are all going to servicing the Volkswagen plant in St. Thomas,” he explained. “How that connects to the County is it connects to the ferry system through trucking, and also through the Picton Terminals, but also the Heidelberg green cement, there are parts of that, but it is a connection.” (Essroc now operates as Heidelberg Materials.)

Williams noted he has been in discussions with MPP Todd Smith this week where they are trying to get Caroline Mulroney, Ontario Minister of Transportation, to visit the County again.

“I have invited Mulroney down again to give some fresh perspectives and certainly to talk about how important that is,” said Williams.

Councillor Bill Roberts told Williams County Road 49 is a “really practical and pressing issue here in Prince Edward County. It’s a safety issue, it’s an infrastructure issue. It’s possibly the worst arterial road in Ontario, maybe even Canada.”

“What might you be able to do to really fast-track to quickly assist this council, and members of our working group, to get senior levels of provincial and federal government to a real table to talk about real financial partnership and rehabilitating and fixing this safety issue on County Road 49?” asked Roberts.

Williams indicated again that to move it up the priority list, he suggests linking it to the EV supply chain, which Williams said may be one of the top files in the province because of the plant to be built in Bath.

“We say anytime there is a big file, it benefits us all, but how is it going to benefit the province, and how it is going to benefit the municipality, and how do we move that up,” explained Williams. “Because of that Heidelberg Cement plant, because of Picton Terminals, it’s right up the level. I know that Heidelberg in their pursuit for green cement, they need a larger natural gas pipe, so that is one part of an infrastructure component.”

“When it comes to Picton Terminals, moving hundreds of thousands of trucks off of the highway or rail and into the seaway, which is much more environmentally sustainable, that then would connect directly to that,” Williams said. “And with the announcements last week with Volkswagen, and then the new deal with Stellantis, each of those battery plants, when they are putting those batteries together, they need components and one of the components of batteries is altoids and cathodes, they need the cathodes which are going to be made in Bath.”

He said it is already elevated in terms of a need and this is going to be a provincial push, where he noted a letter was sent today Minister Mulroney, and he is working with Smith on elevating the priority.

Councillor Roberts noted Williams’ comments mention how Picton Terminals would be the first Great Lakes shipping container entry and “would alleviate supply chain shortages and drop inflation”, where Roberts asked him to share his thoughts on what the future of Picton Terminals is for Prince Edward County and Quinte region.

Williams said he had an opportunity to tour the facility and talked to greater parts of the supply chain strategy which is coming through Canada and to looking to alleviate bottle necks which are happening.
aHe said when shipping comes in, it is about one fiftieth of the environmental impact as trucking and rail.

“Everything from electric ferries to different ways they can put transport on rail, the Great Lakes have taken ships in, certainly Picton Terminals for 80 years,” said Williams. “What they are looking for now is approval for containers that would come in and bypass the rail on the 401 and they’d service other areas like Volkswagen, and it would support 40-plus positions at that area, which are good jobs and jobs for all demographics.”

“We see that as something that is good for not only this area, and Picton as an industrial area on the water, but also for Ontario for a way to bring things in through Bath and Kingston and other areas, Quinte West and Belleville, and it’s a huge boon for them.”

“EV is good for Canada, and if it’s part of this region, that’s great.”

Councillor Janice Maynard spoke to how Williams has promoted already the idea of container shipping from Picton Terminals, where she noted it is a shallow bay close to source water in a tourism area.

“We are not hearing that story here. There is pretty staunch opposition to expanding that especially for container shipping,” said Maynard. “Container shipping from that port in general is probably not what the people of this area is looking for.”

HOUSING
Williams said one of the biggest issues across Canada, but also locally, is the lack of affordable homes and ensuring families can afford to stay in the community.

“Making sure our youth can afford a home if they are growing up here, and being able to stay in the community, to dealing with the growing homeless population in this area,” said Williams.

He noted in Belleville alone, homelessness has doubled in the last five years with close to 400 homeless people in Belleville.

Williams also spoke about Kate’s Rest located on Big Island in Prince Edward County, which he visited earlier Tuesday.

“It’s a phenomenal institution and one of the only rural shelters in Canada, and housing people for $600 a month; it’s just phenomenal what they do and Brian Hart and the program that they have running there.”

Speaking to houselessness, Williams reminded it takes only one step to become houseless, but it takes three to get out, noting that when people find themselves without a home, it can be a domestic situation, it can be a missed pay cheque, it can be rising variable interest mortgage rates, where the first step of the three is shelter.

“I really believe that it’s a fundamental human right for people to have a shelter over their heads, either a warming shelter or a shelter itself, we should ensure every human being is able to find warmth, especially here in Canada over the winter months.“

He said the second step is the need for transitional housing.

“A lot of people when they have that shelter, they need help with mental health and addictions, with employment support, with just life skills themselves.”

Third is the need for affordable market rent.

“We need to ensure that we have affordable places that people can go,” said Williams. “If your one bedroom house -in the report it said close to $2,500 for a one-bedroom apartment- people can’t afford that, so they find themselves back to square one, so it’s really important we look at that.“

Williams commended the Prince Edward County Housing Corporation on an outstanding housing report, as well as Prince Edward County for being one of the only municipalities who actually has a target, something Williams also described as “commendable“.

“The background of the report is really important and the commitment, but the most important part that you have put in, that most municipalities miss, is the targets as targets are so important because without targets we can’t measure were we are going, but it also gives staff the ability to look for how we are going to reach those targets in the end.“

The LoveSong affordable housing project for seniors at the former Pinecrest school in Bloomfield was described as a “tremendous example” of a private-public not-for-profit partnership.

“It is a project that I am using as an example across Canada,” he said.

“You have a non-for-profit group that can apply for the grants and can hopefully qualify for the grants and run the programs when housing is up, combined with a developer group who takes the risk,” he explained. “It’s tremendously important for that partnership to have a risk taker with someone whose going to run the programs because that’s the only way you are getting private money and with the public money and you are actually getting results.”

Councillor Maynard noted the homeless issues across the province, but said there is also a crisis in long-term care for elders.

“So, I put that pretty high on our list,” said Maynard.

Williams explained that long-term care is a provincial issue, noting that health care transfers are federal, where he said long-term care has “always been a priority”.

“Health care in general is high in priority in parliament, we talk about health care a lot.”

JOBS
When it comes to jobs, a lot of the complaints Williams said come from local employers who are still struggling to find skilled labour in the region.

“We are short 3,000 jobs in this area, meaning we are short the skilled laborers to fill them, and they can be anything from temporary foreign worker positions, to our restaurants or hospitality industry, to our manufacturers.”

He said they are looking at the educational system, Loyalist College, as well as immigration, noting how one million immigrants came to Canada last year alone.

He also noted how difficult it has proven to be to bring new people to the area, not least because of the current housing situation.

“When people land in our city centres, they tend to stay there, so it’s really difficult to attract people here, so we have to work as a region to identify skilled job shortages and where we can fill that, and, of course, we want to train our youth,” said Williams. “Why that’s important as business, if you are short your labour, you are short productivity, and that certainly means money to your bottom line.”

Williams was adamant that he wanted to receive a list from the municipality of all the projects requiring provincial assistance, not only now he said, but in the next several years where he was happy to advocate on behalf of the municipality where he indicated he was available and would listen to concerns.

“Anything you think is a priority let me know so I can certainly take that to the relevant ministers and we can certainly push that forward.”

“We certainly have lots to do and I spend a lot of time talking to our mayors and our MPs,” Williams said. “The individual commitment is a group effort and if we work all together, we all know that this region is going to do well.”

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  1. Susan says:

    I believe I did.

  2. Angus Ross says:

    Perhaps, Susan, you could explain how the thousand+ containers coming weekly INTO Picton Terminals by water would get transported to their final destinations?

  3. Chuck says:

    Our MP is suppporting Picton Terminals! So what does that tell you.

  4. Susan says:

    Picton Terminals can ship by water routes totalling avoiding the 401.

  5. Ken Stewart says:

    I agree with Angus, Johnstown, Oshawa or the many other legitimate ports offer close proximity to the 401 and links to rail. Picton Terminals does not have those options and therefore should not be considered.

  6. Angus Ross says:

    The port of Johnstown, just East of Prescott is 1/2 hour longer than Bath to Picton but along the 401 – a highway designed for frequent heavy goods vehicles. Johnstown not only has a container handling capability but is within minutes of the 401 and has a rail link for onward transport of containers. Bringing in Bath cathodes is just one element – what about all the other containers being brought in by ship that then have to be taken by truck up 49? Greenhouse gas emissions plus road damage = a resounding “NO!”

  7. TIP says:

    The government of the day should never had downloaded such a busy highway to the municipality!

  8. William Ryan says:

    Given Williams’ chronic rage farming on Twitter, the federal government has nothing to gain by helping Williams.

  9. Fred says:

    Picton Terminals close proximity to the Bath cathode plant makes it an ideal transportation route.

  10. Bruce Nicholson says:

    Containers are best handled in Montreal and Toronto where there is rail connections and international ports.
    Picton Terminals is not the answer to container traffic.

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