By Chad Ingram
Minden Hills council is wondering if neighbouring municipalities may be interested in partnering on some kind of transit project.
During their Sept. 10 committee-of-the-whole meeting Minden Hills councillors received a staff report on how the township might use MTO gas tax funding to start a rural transportation system in the community.
The province allots two cents per litre of the gas tax it collects for municipal projects.
According to the report from chief administrative officer/treasurer Lorrie Blanchard for the 2014/15 fiscal year it allocated funding for 96 transit systems spread throughout 134 municipalities in the amount of more than $320 million.
The program will provide up to 75 per cent of a municipality’s own meaning that if a township was to spend $20000 a year the province would provide up to $15000.
“They may give you lots of money but it really boils down to the township’s commitment” Blanchard told councillors.
Blanchard said the program includes auditing and reporting guidelines that must followed and also requires that municipalities keep a reserve for the purpose.
She said to maintain funding it’s also important that any transit program grow over time.
“What you do get into with the province is that you’ve continually got to show growth” Blanchard said.
The Municipality of Dysart et al’s DYMO bus which is speciality transit for those with mobility issues has an annual budget of approximately $13000 for the township. That’s exclusive of its gas tax funding which is allocated into a dedicated reserve.
The bus accommodates six ambulatory and six wheelchair riders.
Blanchard said council would need to consider what kind of ridership any transit project would have. Would it be speciality transit like the DYMO bus or transportation available to the general public.
“It certainly gives us some things to think and talk about” said Reeve Brent Devolin emphasizing the transit issues was not one that was going to go away.
With the DYMO bus typically running on Wednesdays only Devolin mused whether there might be an opportunity for the township there.
“I would be interested to see if either of those adjoining municipalities have any interest in this” the reeve said referencing Dysart and Algonquin Highlands.
Devolin has said in the past that a conversation on transit should take place at the county council table.
Councillors all seemed to agree than any sort of transit project would require municipal partners.
“We’re going to have to get a lot of people on board” said Councillor Pam Sayne.