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Billions in federal funding for Ontario public transit remains inaccessible for municipalities

After cuts to public transportation in Northern Durham, A Pickering MP says there's a solution that the Ford govt. isn't taking advantage of. Brittany Rosen explains.

Billions of dollars in federal infrastructure funding for the province remains untouched by the Ford government, according to Pickering-Uxbridge MP Jennifer O’Connell.

The Canada-Ontario Integrated Bilateral Agreement signed in early 2018 states the federal government put up a total of $11.9 billion for the province of Ontario, with $8.3 billion being allocated for public transit.

READ MORE: Metrolinx town hall to present options for Bowmanville GO train extension project

O’Connell says while the federal government is willing to fund projects in all streams, the province has not yet opened the intake process.

“The problem is that the Ford government has decided not to open intake for the vast majority of these applications,” she said.

“What I’m frustrated about is municipalities such as mine here in Pickering, Uxbridge, and across Durham Region are not able to apply for the funding the federal government has allocated.”

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WATCH: (March 26, 2019) Ontario announces transit funding stream for municipalities outside GTA

Ontario announces transit funding stream for municipalities outside GTA
Ontario announces transit funding stream for municipalities outside GTA

The MP says there’s been speculation about why the province will not touch the funds.

“There’s been some speculation that it was political reasons, to maybe influence the federal election that’s happening in October,” O’Connell said.

When asked about the matter, Durham MPP Lindsey Park did not answer directly, but did talk about action the region of Durham can take to help fund public transit.

“On Monday, we opened our public transit stream for the GTHA and what that means is the Regional Municipality of Durham will be eligible to apply for up to $79 million to support the transit projects that matter most to them,” Park said.

READ MORE: Ontario government to stop funding subsidy for discounted GTA transit fares

The issue hits close to home for commuter Marc Gibbons, who was impacted by last month’s Metrolinx GO bus cuts in Scugog and northern Durham.

He hopes municipalities will see the federal investment, and soon.

“It’s ridiculous that the province would turn down money that’s on the table for them to take. We must invest in transit in this province. We have huge congestion issues in the GTA,” he said.

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