Timmins has been left out in its attempts to secure government funds for the next phase of Connecting Link construction.
Connecting Links are those portions of provincial highways that run through municipalities; a government fund has been set up to help communities offset the cost of maintaining those roadways.
The estimated price tag on work required to fully rehabilitate Timmins’ Connecting Link portion — which runs for 21.2 kilometres through the city — has been pegged at $120 million.
On March 29, the city received a letter from Eric Doidge, regional director of the Ministry of Transportation Ontario, who informed the city it would not be receiving any Connecting Link funding in 2017.
At an April 3 city council meeting, Mayor Steve Black said that both he and city CAO Dave Landers called the regional office to discuss the issue.
"They basically told us, as the letter says, that they received 57 submissions, and that there's not enough funds despite the increases in the funding over the last couple years,” Black said.
“What they are attempting to do is clear the slate of all the smaller project applications that are outstanding, to try to wipe them off the slate.”
He added that he inquired about the 'scoring system' for determining who gets funding.
"The response was that they believe they're all in rough shape, and they appreciate the shape that our Connecting Link is in,” Black said.
“They're hoping that by clearing the slate of the smaller projects, and wiping them off the books this year, that it will allow them to revisit the Timmins project in future years, and be able to set up some sort of sustainable funding to work with us on that.”
Black said he was disappointed because the province knows that the Connecting Link project through Timmins is a $120-million, 10-year endeavour.
Last year, the city received $3 million from the province for Phase 1, which was the maximum amount possible, and the highest given to any municipality in Ontario.
"To have them not continue that funding, knowing that it’s a $120-million project, is disappointing to say the least," said Black.
He said he told various government officials that the province needs a one-time enhancement for the fund, as it was nonexistent for four years, which obviously created a huge backlog in projects needing attention.
Luc Duval, the city’s director of public works and engineering, said that council will now have to decide what to do.
"Certainly it was shovel-ready, but not getting the $3 million leaves us with that shortfall," he said.
Duval told council he will be preparing a report outlining some options for next steps before he formally leaves his city position on April 10.
In his rejection letter, Doidge noted the Connecting Links funding program will increase to $30 million in 2018, and encouraged the city to apply again next year.