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View Eric Duncan Profile
Madam Speaker, I am thankful for this opportunity to speak during adjournment proceedings tonight.
I will speak to the first two questions I was able to ask in the House of Commons as a member of Parliament. They pertain not only to my riding of Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry and its rural municipalities and rural projects, but to every corner of this country, whether it is a small, rural municipality, of which I have several in my riding; the city of Cornwall, a mid-sized Ontario urban community; downtown Toronto, Ontario; or the west or east coast.
I have had two opportunities to ask questions about the delays we have seen in getting infrastructure funding out the door. The announcement that dollars are there is one thing, but giving the okay to municipalities so that shovels can get in the ground is something we have not seen quickly, which has been very concerning.
This issue is a bit of a passion of mine. Before I came to the House, I served at the municipal level as a mayor in the township of North Dundas and a warden of the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry for 12 years. I am a self-professed technocrat when it comes to this subject.
I requested the time tonight not just to complain about these delays. As I committed in my maiden speech and in my community, I will not just complain about things, but rather offer some solutions or feedback to my colleagues in the House.
I will remind members of my question on a specific project, which is just as an example of hundreds across Ontario and, I am sure, in other provinces and in rural communities across the country. The example I used is the Morrisburg streetscape project. Last May, the Municipality of South Dundas and many counties came together and applied to the investing in Canada infrastructure program through the stream of the rural and northern lens.
Most relationships that have been done by Conservative and Liberal governments over the years have been one-third federal, one-third provincial and one-third municipal. Municipalities put their projects forward and commit one-third. Last summer, in July, many projects, including the Morrisburg streetscape project, got the okay from the provincial government and they were given their one-third.
I had a concern as an outsider at that point, as I was not a member of the House, when we were coming into an election period: Will dollars get out the door before the election? Unfortunately that did not happen. My thinking at the time was was to give the benefit of the doubt, since the government cannot make announcements or okay projects during a writ period. I understand and respect that. However, one thing I have said as well is that bureaucrats are not off during an election. We are often out and about, just as ministers are, so bureaucrats here in Ottawa or across the country can prepare lists for approvals for our communities.
What could have happened? The first day the new minister was back in Ottawa, we could have signed off and had these projects. Unfortunately it is five months after the election and hundreds of applications are still outstanding, waiting to hear yea or nay on those projects.
These delays are frustrating. One of the reasons for that is municipalities have now done their 2020 budgets. They have allocated the money and are waiting to go, but they need an answer from the federal government on whether these projects can happen.
One of the other concerns I have is with the timeframe we have now. By the time we get approvals out and RFPs go out for tenders on these projects, costs are going up because it is later in the season.
I have two questions for the parliamentary secretary, whom I appreciate being here tonight to respond. Would she agree that these delays are excessive and unnecessary when it comes to approvals, when the other two levels of government have agreed? Does she agree that while it is one thing to announce funding, we need to get it out the door and give those dollars to get the shovels in the ground?
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