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Ontario budget: expectations of Ottawa and Eastern Ontario

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Infrastructure and housing are top priorities in Eastern Ontario and Ottawa, ahead of the Ontario budget which will be tabled Tuesday afternoon at Queen's Park.

  • Emmanuelle Poisson (View profile)Emmanuelle Poisson

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Infrastructure funding is at the top of the wish list for the cities of Ottawa, Cornwall and the United Counties of Prescott and Russell (UCPR), as Ontario tables its 2024-2025 budget on Tuesday.

All the municipalities questioned by Radio-Canada emphasize that they want more money to help them maintain, renew or adapt their existing infrastructure and to build new ones.

They claim that this would allow them to respond to the growth of their population or to resolve the problems of dilapidated certain infrastructures. This includes, among other things, bridges, roads, various municipal facilities, as well as waterworks and wastewater treatment systems.

In Hawkesbury, for example, Mayor Robert Lefebvre would like money for the maintenance of Route 34, McGill Street, the Long Sault Bridge, but also for the sports complex which dates from the 1960s.

Further west, in the City of Clarence-Rockland, the mayor continues to ask for the widening of Route 17 which leads to Ottawa.

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We will see the village of Rockland – and not the town of Clarence-Rockland – double in size population in the next 10 to 15 years. This puts enormous pressure on road infrastructure, he said in an interview with Radio-Canada.

For his part, Casselman would like the Ontario government to allocate more money for roads and water and wastewater systems, a spokesperson for the Municipality wrote to Radio-Canada. Last year, city residents reported experiencing brown water problems.

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Casselman's water tower

Bell sound similar on the Cornwall side. The City hopes that the provincial and federal governments will agree to financially support a secondary water intake project.

The current water intake, which is the only source of drinking water for our community, is at the end of its intended life cycle and is at risk of failure. Waiting will not only increase risks, it will significantly increase costs, a spokesperson said in writing.

In the Township of Alfred and Plantagenet, the Director General, Michel Potvin, emphasizes that the Municipality would like to see an increase in the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund and the Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund in order to ensure its development. address other pressing needs, namely the state of our roads and public safety infrastructure, such as the construction of a new fire station in the Alfred sector.

The mayor of Clarence-Rockland, Mario Zanth, is also calling for more resources for the construction of housing in order to meet the demand and the ambitions of the province in this area.

If you want us to build houses, we will do it, but you have to give us the infrastructure to go with it, he said.

Several municipalities – such as Hawkesbury, Clarence-Rockland, Cornwall and the Township of Alfred and Plantagenet – have highlighted the need for the province to provide them with access to funds for the creation of housing, including affordable and social housing.

Housing for all is a priority for this term of Cornwall City Council. We are working to facilitate and accelerate the construction of more housing of all kinds in the city, writes a spokesperson for the Municipality of Cornwall to Radio-Canada.

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Additional provincial support to house people and keep them in their homes, as well as support for cities our size to have greater autonomy and control over zoning, would allow us to go further and faster in this area, which council has defined as an absolute priority.

A quote from A spokesperson for the City of Cornwall

We have proposed several ideas to the province in this area and we hope to see them reflected or recognized in the budget, underlines this same spokesperson.

Regarding the Ontario government's goal of municipalities helping to build 1.5 million new housing units by 2031, the Township of Alfred and Plantagenet notes that for a small rural municipality like it , it is simply mission impossible, despite two major residential construction projects which are on hold, due to lack of capacity in our water and sewer infrastructures.

The Canton still hopes to lend a helping hand and, to do so, receive its fair share of the fund of several hundred million dollars for water networks aimed at the construction of housing, underlines its general director, Michel Potvin.

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A house under construction in winter in Russell Township (Archive photo)

In addition to investments in infrastructure and housing, Casselman would like to see more funds devoted to increasing capital expenditures in health to help the population obtain primary care locally.

Mario Zanth from the City of Clarence-Rockland hopes that there will be funding for the construction of a new public French secondary school in his city. I hope that the provincial government understands that francophones are very, very strong in the region and we want to be sure that this school arrives. As we said, our growth is coming, we are going to need it.

He also hopes that the requests from cities to x27;east of Ottawa be heard by the provincial government, since the 2022 and 2023 budgets, he said, contained few measures for Ottawa and eastern Ontario.

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