Editorial: What’s the hold up?

There is something holding up millions of dollars in much-needed infrastructure funding available through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program. That something appears to be the federal government.

ICIP is a $30 billion dollar infrastructure partnership between the federal and Ontario governments. Municipal projects funded through ICIP receive 73 per cent of the total cost of a project from the two governments. This funding makes needed and vital infrastructure renewal affordable to municipalities including South Dundas.

In the past year, Ontario has approved over 350 projects totalling over $480 million: there are more projects on the way. Six months ago, SDG Counties was approved for the Morrisburg roundabout and street-scape project. South Dundas has two further applications awaiting approval: refurbishment of the Iroquois and Morrisburg water towers, and a new multi-sport recreation facility for the community.

The Leader made several inquiries to federal Ministry of Infrastructure and Communities about the delays. A spokesperson for minister Catherine McKenna said that the department aims to “review and approve projects as expeditiously as possible.” He said that projects are assessed based on eligibility and “whether federal environmental assessment and Indigenous consultations are required.”

One would think that a jointly-funded program between these two parties would already have in place a set of agreed upon criteria. Approval by one of those parties (Ontario) ought to mean that all of the necessary boxes have already been checked. The same spokesperson said applications were advanced in “a timely way without compromising due diligence.” Taking nearly half a year to make a decision, and thereby putting at risk yet another construction season has to be the opposite of “timely”.

What is the point of having these project applications submitted on time if the federal government then allows those approved projects to stack up and collect dust?

Rookie SDSG MP Eric Duncan spoke of this very issue and its impact on many communities in Ontario during his first speech in the House of Commons. He was right to do so. These unnecessary delays will affect many projects throughout this province.

Let’s get moving.

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