Reflet_2012_03_15

ACTUALITÉ / NEWS

Rocky road ahead for Eastern Ontario

Chair of the EOWC. “Roads in the rural regionspananarearoughlyequalto1.5times thedistancearoundtheworld.”Incitiesthe cost of rebuilding a kilometre of a one-lane roadissplitbetween25households,whilein rural areas, the same cost is shared by only fivehouseholds. Residents of Eastern Ontario pay their taxes. However, the Report makes it clear thattheseresidentsarereachingthelimitof their ability to pay for existing services and meetlong-terminfrastructureneeds. EasternOntariogovernmentscannotface thischallengealone.TheEOWCisinitiating a series of discussions at both federal and provinciallevelstofindwaystoaddressour Region’suniqueconcernsandissuesoverthe long term, while recognizing that all levels of government face major financial challenges.

challenges,”saidMelCampbell,Chairofthe EOWC. “Now we know exactly what these challenges are and how they will affect the abilityoftheRegion’slocalgovernmentsto provide vital community services and maintain our roads, bridges and other infrastructure.” Thereport,FacingourFiscalChallenges, identifiesnumerousfactorsthatcontribute to the region’s overall financial sustainability.Inadditiontochallengesfaced bytheregionasawhole,thereportidentifies long-standingdifficultiesuniquetoEastern Ontario’s103ruralmunicipalities. Local governments must cope with a limited tax base to pay for services and maintainexistinginfrastructure.Residents contribute almost 90 per cent of property

taxes collected in the region’s rural communitiesduetolowlevelsofcommercial and industrial activity, and large areas of Crown land and managed forest that are partially or completely exempt from municipalpropertytaxes.Inaddition,these residents are more likely to have lower incomes,beunemployed,andbeoverage65 compared with the rest of the Ontario. Municipal debt levels have increased about 300 per cent over the past decade. There is a growing and critical need to maintain existing infrastructure and meet futureneeds.MunicipalitiesinRuralEastern Ontario need to find an additional $500 to $600 million per year to maintain existing capitalassets,includingroadsandbridges. Municipalities in rural Eastern Ontario mustfundhigherservicedeliverycostswith alimitedtaxbase,saidJanetGutowski,Vice

R ICHARD M AHONEY richard.mahoney@eap.on.ca

Results of a comprehensive financial studyofEasternOntariomunicipalities paint a sobering picture of a region strugglingwithalimitedtaxbase,rising debtlevelsandagrowingneedtoinvest ininfrastructure. An Eastern Ontario Wardens’ Caucus (EOWC) initiative, the Eastern Ontario Financial Sustainability Update Project examined the economic condition of all 114 urbanandrurallocalgovernmentsinEastern Ontario. “We’veknownforsometimethatEastern Ontario communities are facing tough

Russell : Councilors Cullen and Leroux refuse environmental subcommittee haveresponsibilitiesathomethatIcannot affordtodecreaseevenmore.”

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Russell Township councilors Craig CullenandPierreLerouxrefusetochairthe environmental subcommittee which advises Council on the proposed Taggart Miller waste disposal facility. In an email Leroux said he understood thiswasanimportantsubject,buthisthree sons are starting football taking up what MondaytoThursdayeveningshehasfree, and he is also starting a new business. “I

Cullen said by email he is “a director in theTownofPrescottandcurrentlyattend 12 to 14meetings permonthbetweenboth municipalities.”Hehasalsoacceptedanew position there. Mayor J.P. St-Pierre is now chair of the subcommittee.SaysSkinner,“Maybethat’s good. He needs to know about this.”

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