Posted On: Thursday, January 31, 2019West Grey was front and centre at the Rural Ontario Municipal Association (ROMA) conference in Toronto this week. West Grey was commended as a municipality that leverages the investment and cost-saving opportunities offered by the Association of Municipalities of Ontario’s (AMO’s) Local Authority Services (LAS) program. Equally important, West Grey’s delegation, led by Mayor Christine Robinson, advocating for the Ministry of Transportation to implement a maintenance grant program to the existing Connecting Links program was very well received.
“I am pleased about the engaging and encouraging dialogue that resulted from our delegation to the Ministry of Transportation to consider a maintenance grant,” said Mayor Robinson. “I believe our provincial partners understand the logic of proactively taking care of our infrastructure and prolonging life cycles. It’s really that old adage of an ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure.” “
“Similarly, I am extremely proud of West Grey staff for consistently and responsibly managing every precious tax dollar by looking at investment options and economies-of-scale opportunities that are realized through our involvement with the LAS program,” Mayor Robinson added.
In his address to the ROMA attendees from across Ontario, AMO President Jamie McGarvey described the LAS program as a program that “helps municipal governments achieve better results, save money, and stretch tax dollars further”. He noted that the LAS program is designed to help municipal governments “take charge and lower costs”.
West Grey leverages six different LAS programs: electricity pricing, natural gas rates, LED street light replacements, roads assessment, energy planning and long-term investments.
“I have to commend our finance staff for their leadership in being stewards of West Grey’s finances,” said West Grey Chief Administrative Officer Laura Johnston. “As AMO President McGarvey noted, with West Grey’s involvement in the LAS investment program, we leverage the bulk buying power of the partnership and are involved in investments worth $2 billion. These are investments that continue earning impressive dividends for the LAS partners.”
Connecting Links Grant
For the past few years, West Grey has been advocating for a maintenance grant program that proactively invests in major infrastructure like high-traffic bridges. At the 2019 ROMA conference, West Grey Mayor Robinson outlined the importance of getting ahead of costly, disruptive and potentially preventable rebuilds.
“In our delegation to the Ministry of Transportation, I felt it was important to discuss the impacts of the Connecting Links grant program that only provides assistance when infrastructure has deteriorated to the point of needing major rehabilitation or replacement,” said Mayor Robinson. “The trickle-down effect of ‘doing nothing’ is significant. Thousands and thousands of dollars could be saved if the Ministry of Transportation would offer a maintenance grant program that municipalities could leverage to prolong the lifespans of our major infrastructure assets.”
In response to the West Grey delegation, Ministry officials, including Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MPP Bill Walker, encouraged continued dialogue. West Grey staff will be providing supporting studies and statistics to the Ministry to further outline the maintenance grant proposal.
“I welcome and appreciate the collaborative spirit expressed during the West Grey delegation,” said Mayor Robinson. “On behalf of Council and staff, we look forward to a cooperative approach to managing infrastructure in West Grey and for municipalities across Ontario.”
Laura Johnston, CAO, West Grey