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Mayor jokes a gravel highway might prompt province to open wallet

'If it gets to the point (the highway) is failing, what are our options?' asked Grey Highlands Mayor about multi-million dollar project to reconstruct Highway 10
Highway 10 running through downtown Markdale in Grey Highlands.

The Municipality of Grey Highlands is hoping to get big money from the provincial Connecting Link program.

At its committee of the whole budget meeting on Jan. 25, council tentatively approved applying to the Connecting Link program for a total of $6 million for the reconstruction of Highway 10 in both Flesherton and Markdale. If successful, each project would receive $3 million in funding from the province with the municipality using long-term debt of $491,873 for the Flesherton portion and $2,220,809 for the Markdale portion.

Staff explained the two projects would not proceed without provincial funding support.

During the course of the discussion, Mayor Paul McQueen said - in jest - that if provincial funding was not forthcoming to assist with repairing the roads the municipality would have to consider more drastic measures for those sections of the highway.

“Maybe that would be one of the ways to get their attention. If all of a sudden that became gravel, I bet you would get them coming up to see us right away,” said McQueen. “I’m just saying that tongue in cheek, but sometimes stranger things happen to get their attention.”

Connecting Link is a $30 million program that provides financing for local municipalities that have portions of a provincial highway running through their urban area. The program provides 90 per cent funding or a maximum of $3 million for a project. The 2023-24 intake for Connecting Link opened in September 2022. Locally in recent years, Owen Sound, Meaford and West Grey have received funding for projects through the program.

While the mayor’s gravel road comment was made in a light-hearted tone, he did note that the work required was expensive and would be a major hit to the taxpayers in Grey Highlands if no provincial funding is forthcoming.

“If it gets to the point (the highway) is failing, what are our options?” asked the mayor.

Director of Transportation and Public Spaces Chris Cornfield said the funding program is a pool of money for the entire province and is very competitive and he said if the municipality is not successful in securing a grant it would try again, but would eventually have to look at repairing those sections of the highway with other sources of funding.

“If we’re unsuccessful, we’ll try, try again,” he said.

CAO Karen Govan said Grey Highlands had a successful delegation with the Ministry of Transportation at the recent ROMA conference in Toronto and said the Highway 10 issue was raised with the province.

“We really, really need support with the connecting links,” said Govan. “We’re confident we’re in the running.”

Coun. Paul Allen was supportive of the two projects, but wondered about having the highway under construction in two places during the summer months.

“I can just imagine the gridlock on a Friday afternoon or a Monday afternoon of a long weekend,” said Allen.

Cornfield said the goal would be to get both projects completed ASAP.

“To have them done in one year would be fantastic,” he said.

Further details about the two Connecting Link applications can be found here.


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About the Author: Chris Fell, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Chris Fell covers The Blue Mountains and Grey Highlands under the Local Journalism Initiative, which is funded by the Government of Canada
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