As the annual Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) conference comes to a close, representatives from Niagara West are reflecting on their experiences.
Officials from Grimsby, Lincoln, and West Lincoln attended the event and took part in similar discussions about how to improve their municipalities.
Of the many things they discussed, there were three that were consistent among the west-end municipalities: the Niagara Escarpment Crossing and shared services/infrastructure.
All three West Niagara municipalities participated in a joint delegation with assistant deputy ministers from the Ministry of Transportation. The delegation was regarding the proposed North-South Niagara Escarpment Crossing, which has gained traction in popularity recently because of the area's importance to trade.
In 2017, the Niagara region approved its transit master plan, which found that there was a need for a crossing that would link the QEW and the proposed Highway 20 Smithville bypass.
The goal of this crossing would be to allow commercial vehicles to pass through the area but keep them off of neighbourhood streets.
“This project aims to ease traffic congestion, enhance transportation, and promote efficient movement of goods and people,” a release from the Town of Lincoln reads. According to the Town of Grimsby, they’ve already received approval and provincial support for an environmental assessment, and the ministry has asked to be included in the progress and agreed to consider this project once the environmental assessment has been completed.
According to the Niagara region’s website, draft terms of reference should be coming to council this fall.
Shared services has been a big topic of discussion among Grimsby, Lincoln, and West Lincoln over the past few weeks, and it’s a discussion they took to AMO.
The Town of Lincoln was seeking financial assistance to help with transitionary costs related to their move to share fire services with Grimsby. They also advocated for funding to support new infrastructure, including a fire station in Vineland and essential water and sanitary infrastructure to accommodate the Prudhommes development.
Grimsby took the opportunity to advocate for more funding sources to achieve healthy communities and offer best practices toward tackling climate change challenges.
For West Lincoln, Mayor Cheryl Ganann took part in a delegation with other regional officials to Sam Oosterhoff, parliamentary assistant to the minister of red tape reduction, about shared services. A release from the township said the delegation detailed ways the Region and the Province can work together to continue modernizing and streamlining municipal services, including the reintroduction of a municipal modernization program. Since Oosterhoff is Niagara West’s MPP, he was already aware of some of the programs the area has put in place.
As far as infrastructure goes, West Lincoln advocated for more funding to address asset replacement funding deficits.
“Continued development of the township’s asset management system to meet provincial requirements for 2024 and 2025 has revealed that the asset replacement plan is underfunded by approximately $1,800 per household,” the release said, adding that changes recently enacted at the provincial level compound the issue by impacting municipalities’ ability to collect revenues from development charges.
“This ultimately places the responsibility of funding and maintaining the infrastructure associated with growth onto the taxpayer,” it said.
The township requested that the provincial government take a serious review of legislation and changing circumstances and investigate and implement other revenue opportunities, including new infrastructure grants.
Abby Green, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grimsby Lincoln News