Infrastructure Boost For Elgin-Middlesex-London

June 5, 2017

Jun 05, 2017

by Sean Meyer

St. Thomas-Elgin Weekly News

Back in September 2016, the federal and provincial governments announced a bilateral agreement making more than $1.1 billion in funding available under the Clean Water and Wastewater Fund (CWWF).

On May 29, Elgin-Middlesex-London MP Karen Vecchio unveiled her riding will be receiving $6,617,643 of those funds to support a variety of water and wastewater projects.

Now, Vecchio just wants to make sure the announcement leads to actual shovels in the ground.

“It’s OK to announce money, to re-announce money and re-re-announce money, but let’s make sure that money is getting out the door, shovels are going in the ground, and these municipalities are building on the assets they need to build on,” she said. “But what we saw in 2016 is the majority of the money didn’t make it out the door. We need to fight that and pressure the government that this isn’t just an announcement.”

When the CWWF was announced the federal government committed to providing up to 50 percent of the funding, amounting to almost $570 million, while the provincial government will invest almost $270 million. Municipalities, First Nations and local services boards will cover the remaining costs.

Vecchio said she fully supports infrastructure spending, particularly when it ensures Canadians and their families have access to modern, reliable water and wastewater services that meet their needs.

These investments, she added, “safeguard the health and well-being of residents, protect waterways and preserve local ecosystems,” while also laying the foundation for new economic opportunities.

In all, the funding will support 20 projects across Elgin-Middlesex-London, including six in St. Thomas alone.

The largest piece of that funding — $1.1 million — will support the sanitary sewer, storm sewer and watermain work being undertaken as part of the Stanley Street reconstruction in St. Thomas.

Justin Lawrence, director of environmental services and city engineer, said the federal/provincial funding has been helpful in reducing the infrastructure gap in St. Thomas.

As thankful as he is for the support from upper levels of government, Lawrence was quick to praise St. Thomas council for a proactive attitude to dealing with local infrastructure needs.

“The current city council has been really supportive of infrastructure spending, which has allowed the last two years to be the biggest two construction years in St. Thomas history,” Lawrence said. “An asset management approach will be a law in Ontario for municipalities by 2020, but St. Thomas should be fully compliant by the end of 2017.”

Vecchio said residents of the riding will soon benefit from projects like the construction of a new sanitary sewage pumping station in Central Elgin ($431,647), which will improve sanitation and sewage pumping in the area.

Funding will also go towards replacing the existing stormwater culvert in Malahide ($37,000), which will protect the community from flooding and support the growth and the community for years to come.

Other local projects to receive funding include $407,551 for the Aylmer smart water metre upgrade, $600,000 for sanitary sewer, storm sewer and watermain work on the Churchill Crescent reconstruction in St. Thomas and 129,498 towards installation of the Wallacetown elevated tank rechlorination system in Dutton Dunwich.

“These projects are essential to keeping our waterways clean and our communities healthy and liveable,” Vecchio said. “These are all really important projects that they’re doing. I really focus on making sure taxpayers are getting some of the money back, are getting the infrastructure we need. I just need to make sure the money gets out the door.”