Council takes dangerous curve on infrastructure grant application

Here’s hoping sometime this summer when the Government of Canada announces the rural and northern municipalities that were successful in applying to the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP) grant program, the County of Prince Edward’s Closson Rd./County Rd. 2 is included in the list.

Because if it’s not, this council will be wearing the decision to put Closson Rd ahead of County Rd. 4 for the remainder of the term.

And for a community that can’t pay for the upkeep and maintenence of the roads it has now, it seems a foolish gambit for this council to ignore its own staff’s top recommendation of putting forth County Rd. 4 and going with a second choice when free federal infrastructure money is on the line.

Council’s maneuvres on this file certainly seem politically driven and that’s a dangerous game as there’s no slam dunks in federal or provincial infrastructure grant applications.

There is no denying the shape of Closson Rd. and one councillor’s description of being ashamed of a road in such a state is certainly shared by many. Although it was never designed or built to accommodate the current amount of traffic that traverse it on any given spring, summer or fall weekend, previous councils have punted the ball repeatedly while the condition of Closson Rd. became akin to a logging road with potholes that could seemingly swallow Jeeps.

But righting a wrong with up to $4 million of infrastructure funding at stake is a massive gamble for the taxpayers of Prince Edward County.

If the good economic activity and care for the citizens of Closson Rd. were to be respected, this pattern of council ignoring the condition of the road needed to cease a long time ago Congratulations to those farmers, wineries and residents on Closson Rd. for finally getting some action and pushing council in your favour.

Again, it’s hoped there’s a brighter day ahead for residents and businesses along the route when the announcement of the successful ICIP applicants is released.

But if there was such things as the Big Swamp Farmers Association or the Picton-Belleville Commuter’s League, the decision to swap the projects might not have even happened.

However, this motion by council should have never been politicized in the first place.

This decision should have been about putting the absolute best case forward to a federal administrative body that will judge applications and dole out infrastructure funds to those communities whose projects best fit the parameters and criteria set in the process.

Criteria such as the condition of a bridge, traffic counts and safety. Are we seeing good, top-down governance from this council or an old way of how Prince Edward County politics are done where the loudest and longest voice at the horseshoe gets their way?

If the municipality isn’t one of the successful candidates applying to the federal government for over $11 billion in grant money, those forced to drive these roads in Prince Edward County will be left to do nothing but continue to dodge pot holes and figure out how to further maintain a glut of roads with a tapped out tax base.

-Jason Parks, Editor