Local municipalities get spike in gas tax funds

by Keith Corcoran

Municipalities in Lunenburg and Queens counties are among jurisdictions in the province getting a double dose of federal gas tax funding.

"Giving them that extra to pick and choose what they want to do with it, as opposed to having to wait for someone else to tell them what they're going to do, is very important," local MP Bernadette Jordan told LighthouseNOW after she announced Infrastructure Canada was chipping in on the one-time boost.

"The thing is we heard loud and clear from municipalities is that they need more flexibility to be able to do the projects that are important to them," said Jordan, the federal minister of Rural Economic Development.

A news conference announcing the new funding took place August 20 in Mahone Bay, a small town with a small budget that limits its ability to spend on big ticket upgrades needs such as roads and below-street utility repairs.

The gas tax money for that town in 2019-20 was supposed to be $80,478. The new funding adds another $83,897 to that total. Mayor David Devenne said the cash infusion will help pay for upgrades to the Clearland Road within the town boundaries.

It's expected the work will start in September, he told LighthouseNOW.

Mahone Bay also intends to spend on data-gathering related to greenhouse gas emissions as part of planning for future energy systems.

The South Shore's largest commercial hub, Bridgewater, adds nearly $700,000 to its original $664,093 gas tax amount. Bridgewater earmarked the funding for items such as below-street wastewater upgrades on Queen Street and the Pinecrest subdivision and road re-paving projects.

Meanwhile, the regional municipality securing the largest windfall, the Municipality of the District of Lunenburg (MODL), has committed to repairs to roads in Stonehurst, Pentz and LaHave with its gas tax cash. Spending will also take place on flood risk mapping, and active transportation routes, among other things. With the 2019 spike included, MODL receives $2.3 million in gas tax funding for 2019-2020.

The Municipality of Chester's gas tax amount ($593,395) rises another $616,150. The Region of Queens finds itself with an extra $703,427 on top of the confirmed $671,786. The Town of Lunenburg also sees a boost of $208,879 to go with the committed $199,611.

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