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Sunday, April 21, 2019

Saugeen Mobility And Regional Transit Seeks Funding

Grey Bruce | by Robyn Garvey  

Transit system looks to member municipalities for support.

The Saugeen Mobility and Regional Transit System is looking to its member municipalities for capital funding. 

SMART is in need of at least 3 but preferably 5 new adapted minivans to replace aging vehicles that have between 300 and 400 thousand kilometers on them.

As such the Board of Directors recently passed a motion to request that all nine member municipalities contribute a total of 250 thousand dollars using some of the extra Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing funding each received.

Board Director Warren Dickert says this extra government funding comes with very few strings attached and that is why

SMART was hoping municipalities would see fit to contribute to the capital funding needs.

Since that motion, Dickert says SMART has learned that the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program could be another option.

Under the government Federal/Provincial/Local split grant program, if successful he says SMART could receive up to 500 thousand dollars in funding.

Either way, if municipalities simply chip to cover the 250 thousand dollars for capital purchases or apply for the ICIP grant, Dickert says it will have to be all or nothing approach.

He believes all nine municipalities will have to buy into the new vehicle purchases, saying it won’t work if some choose to contribute and others opt out.

SMART is made up of Arran-Elderslie, Brockton, Chatsworth, Hanover, Huron-Kinloss, Kincardine, Saugeen Shores, Southgate and West Grey.

The breakdown funding request to municipalities ranges from 9 thousand from Southgate all the way to 43 thousand from Hanover.

Rough estimates peg SMART’s budget around 1.6 million dollars, the Ministry of Transportation Gas Tax accounts for about 760 thousand dollars of that, with the remaining amount coming from member municipalities and rider-ship fees.

Hanover Director of Corporate Services Christine Walker notes that SMART uses 97% of the gas tax on operations when in fact it should be puting dollars aside for future capital projects like vehicle replacement.

She notes in two years time, SMART’s operation budget has increased by 300 thousand dollars.

It is now a matter of waiting to see if the nine member municipalities are willing to chip in extra funding to beef up SMART’s capital dollars to purchase new vehicles for the fleet.

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