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Superior North mayors to encourage province to invest in infrastructure

Superior North mayors want to address the aging infrastructure at ROMA.
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The infrastructure demands facing Greenstone is a priority that the mayor plans to bring to the attention of the province.

The Municipality of Greenstone is not like other municipalities, according to Mayor James McPherson. 

''Where other municipalities put in one application for funding, we need to put in five,” he said.

Therefore, heading into the annual Rural Ontario Municipal Association conference, McPherson will ensure that provincial ministers understand that when Greenstone sends in funding requests, they aren’t asking for investment into one ward, but four.

“When the grants come out, they say 'you can fix your area.” Well, we put our hand up and we say, “well we have four arenas. We got four fire halls. we got five water plants.' So, when you say the grants are limited to one application. The government put us together as one municipality of four different communities and had we been four separate communities, we could have four separate grants,” McPherson said.

McPherson sets his sights on explaining to the province that the way there issue out the grant process doesn’t quite fit the model of Greenstone.

Most of the infrastructure in the four Greenstone wards  — Beardmore, Geraldton, Longlac, and Nakina — are all aging at the same time.  

“They are well past life on some of them. We need help four times, not one time, so that’s the biggest for infrastructure in Greenstone,” McPherson said.

McPherson acknowledged that Greenstone isn’t the only municipality that needs adequate funding for infrastructure.  

Terrace Bay Mayor Paul Malashewski will be heading to ROMA with the same intent to speak with provincial leaders about the need to have access to funding for major infrastructure replacements.

Malashewski will be speaking with the Minister of Culture, Tourism, and Sport Neil Lumsden about the upgrades to the Terrace Bay recreation facility.

“It was built in 1954. There were some upgrades done to it probably 30 years ago, maybe, but it does need some upgrades. Especially, to the arena,” Malashewski said.

Malashewski had also wants to speak with the Minister of Municipal Affair and Housing Steve Clark, about seniors housing, supportive housing, and accessibility, but was unable to get a session.

Marathon Mayor Rick Dumas also spoke about active living centres and the substantial upgrades required.

“We are in a situation where our arena, pool, theatre, and complexes are quite aged. It’s pushing on to close to 50 years old. Some portions have been built in three sections in the 70s. We know that the life of that facility is coming close to an end. We continue putting money in it to keep it running, but it’s getting to that point where we know to build a new one,” Dumas said.

Dumas is looking forward to having that discussion with the Minister of Infrastructure Kinga Surma to see if there are additional funding opportunities.

He said Marathon has been working on a new active living centre for the past three years and that a new build will cost more than $40 million.

“We know we can’t do it on our own, so we are looking for some assistance from the provincial and maybe the federal governments,” Dumas said.

In Greenstone, there is a concern about energy infrastructure. In the fall of 2022, Greenstone has a 20-hour power outage due to the radio line that powers the four wards.

“So, if there is a break in that line from Nipigon to Greenstone or through Greenstone, there is no backup power. There is no loop,” said McPherson.

McPherson wants to encourage the provincial government to oversee Hydro One continuing the maintenance and upgrading of their infrastructure.  

Clint Fleury

About the Author: Clint Fleury

Clint Fleury is a web reporter covering Northwestern Ontario and the Superior North regions.
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