Prince Edward County denied in first round of ICIP funding

(Gazette file photo)

JASON PARKS

STAFF WRITER

The dream of receiving  federal infrastructure grant funding to rehabilitate Closson rd. and a section of County Rd 2 in 2019 will have to remain just that.

A dream.

Officials in Bay of Quinte MPP Todd Smith’s office confirmed the County of Prince Edward’s  case for federal funding to improve Closson rd.  would not be moving  forward in the first round of the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Project (ICIP) grant application process.

Smith was in Trenton Friday morning to announce that the Province of Ontario has nominated Quinte West’s King Street corridor reconstruction project ICIP funding.

Smith explained through ICIP’s Rural and Northern stream, a multi-level funding model, the Province must submit projects for federal approval.  Pending federal approval, the Province would contribute $1,666,183.37 toward the reconstruction of 2.8 km of roadway along King, Division, Catherine and Dufferin streets.

The Province has committed $250 million through the Rural and Northern stream, part of a $10.2 billion investment in the 10-year ICIP program, a joint venture funded mainly by the Federal government and administered by the provincial government.

For each approved project, The Government of Canada will contribute up to 50 per cent of the project costs while Ontario will provide up to 33 per cent. The Rural and Northern stream is one of four funding opportunities under the agreement.  Intakes from municipalities under the Public Transit stream are currently being reviewed, while streams for Community, Culture and Recreation and Green projects will open later this year

In a competitive process, Quinte West’s application was reviewed for its adherence to both federal eligibility criteria and provincial priorities.

Earlier this spring, the federal government asked municipalities in each riding to submit grant applications of high priority infrastructure projects, meaning the County of Prince Edward was jockeying with the other local governments.

While it would be impossible to determine at this stage, the announcement should leave some pondering what decision the province might have made had the municipality forwarded is best infrastructure cause in the first intake process.

County council reversed course on direction of its grant application, instructing staff to forward a case for fixing Closson Rd and an adjoining section of County Rd. 2 instead of staff’s recommended project that would see a section of County Rd. 4 and bridge spanning a spring stream that eventually runs into Consecon Lake rehabilitated.

At the Committee of the whole (COTW) meeting April 11, councillors received a report from staff recommending an application  be made concerning a potential  $8.8 million project that would rehabilitate the aforementioned bridge and repair much of what is also known as Ben Gill Rd. from its terminus at Hwy. 62 to a point on Talbot St. at the Millennium Trail.

Included in that project was the rehabilitation of the bridge, graded by engineers to be in the worst condition of all bridges in Prince Edward County.

However a majority of council voted instead to direct staff for forward an “Option B”  project that was smaller in scale and cost and, according to former Director of Community Development and Strategic Initiatives Neil Carbone.

According to a report that explained his choice of the County Rd. 4 project as the best candidate, Carbone admitted  Closson Rd. and County Rd. 2 see considerable cycling traffic which is considered important in the technical schedule of the ICIP funding application.

But Closson Rd had been fewer perceived collisions and much lower traffic counts (4,000 vs. 2,790) which were  also important eligibility factors.

The report concluded “The Closson Rd. project may not meet the ICIP funding criteria as well as the County Rd 4 project and, taking these criteria into consideration, staff recommends the rehabilitation of County Rd. 4.”

Closson Rd. had been identified in the Municipality’s capital plan for reconstruction in 2022 and although the estimated cost of this project (approx. $2.75 million) is below the maximum funding the County of Prince Edward would be eligible to receive, the immediate proximity of County Rd. 2, listed as a capital project for  2021 at a cost of $1.5 million, and those projects could be combined for the context of the ICIP eligibility.

The total project would approach the $5 million maximum at a projected cost of $4.25 million of which the a municipal contribution would be $708,475 presuming the application was successful.

In an emailed statement to the Gazette, MPP Smith said it was unfortunate Prince Edward County was not successful in attaining ICIP funding, however, the 2019 intake of the Rural and Northern funding stream was “highly competitive.”

“The funding demanded far exceeded the available funding – about $1 billion in funding was requested and only $417 million in federal and provincial funding is available.  I was pleased to hear two worthwhile projects in Bay of Quinte were nominated for federal consideration,” Smith said.

The MPP added projects  nominated to the federal government for review and approval were the most aligned with provincial assessment criteria and federal requirements. The provincial assessment criteria included reviewing projects based on critical health and safety aspects, the technical merit of the proposed project, the funding need of the proposed project and efficiencies through joint projects.  

“My office will be working with Ministry of Infrastructure and OMAFRA officials to provide some clarity to the County on how its project scored with an eye toward helping it prepare for future funding opportunities,” said Smith.

A multi-faceted program, Smith added there will soon be intakes for the Community, Culture and Recreation and Green project streams.

“I’d encourage Prince Edward County to submit project applications for funding consideration,” he said.

This story was edited on July 23, 2019 to include comments from Bay of Quinte MPP Todd Smith.