CK, Leamington close to receiving infrastructure funding

Infrastructure announcement. Leamington Mayor Hilda MacDonald, MPP Rick Nicholls, Chatham-Kent Mayor Darrin Canniff. August 16, 2019. (Photo by Natalia Vega).

Funding may be on the way for Chatham-Kent and Leamington for four transit and road projects.

MPP Rick Nicholls announced a nearly $1.8 million investment for infrastructure projects on Friday morning at the Chatham-Kent Civic Centre. Chatham-Kent Mayor Darrin Canniff and Leamington Mayor Hilda MacDonald were both on hand for the announcement.

“This is a thriving community and we want to make sure that people are able to get to work and get to other functions,” said Nicholls.

The two area municipalities were nominated to receive funding under the Public Transit stream and Rural and Northern stream of the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP). However, funding for said projects is pending final approval from the federal government as the ICIP is a cost-sharing program between the different levels of government.

If approved, the projects could receive a total funding amount of more than $5.8 million split between the federal, provincial, and municipal governments. Pending approval, some projects would also be able to start in the fall of this year.

“I’m thrilled to see the upper levels of government responding to the needs of our community to improve and modernize public transit in Leamington,” said MacDonald

Nicholls said as soon as they received the “okay” from the federal government, projects can officially start and “we will in fact be putting shovels in the ground”.

“I would hope that the current federal government will in fact follow through on their commitment on this particular program,” said Nicholls. “With regards to after the federal election, whoever forms government… I would again expect that they will follow through and ensure that municipalities receive the funding. We’re ready to go but we can’t do anything until we hear from the federal government.”

This news of possible funding comes as the Municipality of Chatham-Kent reviews a Transit Strategy.

“We have a committee that’s set up, specifically looking at how we improve transportation,” said Canniff. “[Funding] is much needed. We have had a lot of issues with our transit given our wide diversity — geography wise… so this is going to be very helpful.”

This is the second infrastructure announcement to be made by the Ford government in the area this week. Ontario’s Transportation Minister announced on Monday that a portion of Highway 3 between Essex and Leamington will be widened to four lanes, starting in 2021.

With regards to concrete median barriers on Highway 401 or addressing the closure on Talbot Trail, Nicholls said those projects “take time”.

“We’re looking at it. I’ve toured around my riding with [officials from] the Lower Thames Conservation Authority as well as the Essex Region Conservation Authority and we’ve had discussions,” said Nicholls.

Other projects the provincial government has nominated to receive transit funding through the ICIP are located in Toronto and York Region.