Update To Our Registered Members And Interested Parties
This note is going to those registered on the Murray Canal District Organization (MCDO) website and other interested parties. Copied on this note is MP Norlock, Brighton Mayor Walas and Council, Quinte West Mayor Williams, PEC Mayor Mertens and Superintendent Jewel Cunningham.
This note provides an update on MCDO activities in the last few weeks following our previous update.
We have attempted to execute our previously communicated April 30th, 2014 plan to deal with the single lane bridge issue with mixed and unfortunately mainly negative results.
On April 30th we introduced our plan with the following comment: “We sincerely appreciated the extremely positive news on March 14th, 2014 of the securing of replacement bridge funding and the diligent efforts of all Municipal, Provincial and Federal elected officials working in cooperation with Parks Canada officials to bring this about. With our proposed plan, it is our goal to advocate for the optimization of the use of these funds to the betterment of the communities we serve by getting them applied to building the bridge we need.” This goal remains our focus.
Parks Canada has not confirmed they have suspended the single lane bridge project and process. As far as MCDO knows, they have not suspended the project and process.
Neither Parks Canada nor the Federal Government has disclosed the Single Lane Bridge project/process documentation as MCDO has requested from the Federal Government and Parks Canada at the April 23rd public meeting.
While MP Norlock has publicly declared his intention to find the additional Federal funding and to secure the commitment of the needed parties to change the project from the single lane bridge to the bridge we need,
he has made it clear publicly there is no certainty he will be successful. Through various means, we understand the single lane bridge project is still proceeding and could shortly go to procurement.
MCDO understands a Build Canada funding opportunity to fund the additional dollars needed for a two lane bridge, upon further examination by the Federal Government, is NOT available to the municipalities.
While all three local municipalities have formally requested the single lane bridge project be suspended, this has not happened. Neither the Federal Government nor Parks Canada have responded in writing to repeated requests from the MCDO and all three Municipalities to suspend the single lane bridge process and to disclose the relevant project/process documents.
The Municipality of Brighton reissued to MP Norlock, on May 5th, its April 24th request for confirmation the single lane bridge project has been suspended. No official reply has been received by Brighton or (as far as we know) any of the other requesting municipalities to this moment.
At the May 5, 2014 Brighton Municipal Council meeting, Council passed a resolution requesting the three Municipal Councils, MP Norlock and the MCDO attend a public meeting to discuss solutions to getting the bridge we need. This meeting would have fulfilled our MCDO plan objective for public consultation. This meeting was to take place on May 22, 2014. However, on May 14th, 2014, Mayor Walas, indefinitely postponed this public meeting, stating there was no point in having a meeting if no new information was available to share. MCDO expressed its disappointment with this effective cancellation of the meeting as violating the spirit and letter of the unanimous Council resolution, but mainly due to the fact it would deprive the community of the opportunity to hear the absolutely new information (to the public) that, in spite of unanimous requests from all three municipalities, the single lane bridge project/process appears to still be completely underway and could go forward.
At the May 20, 2014 Brighton Municipal Council meeting, Council at least partially mitigated the effective cancellation of the public meeting by passing a new resolution requesting MP Norlock to get Parks Canada to agree to at least a 9 week suspension of the single lane bridge project. MP Norlock had indicated his receptiveness to this request, although he can only relay this request to the Minister responsible for Parks Canada and other senior levels of the Federal Government. The request’s time interval is intended to (1) give MP Norlock a time window to secure, if possible, from the Federal Minister responsible for Parks Canada, additional Federal funding and the agreement to alter the single lane bridge project; and (2) provide a subsequent opportunity, if MP Norlock is unsuccessful, for the Muncipalities to consider how to respond.
At this writing, we don’t have the exact wording of this resolution. The intention of the Council was to issue this request to Mr. Norlock today.
Meetings and Other Steps Up to Today
We have attended all successive Brighton Council meetings since the last update. Key events took place at the meetings on May 5th and again on May 20. We monitored the May 5th Quinte West Council meeting where Council agreed to make an application under the Build Canada Fund program. This has subsequently (apparently) been determined to be a non-starter. As far as we know, Quinte West Council has no other plans to assist with this problem. Mayor Williams is copied on this note for his information and comment.
We have held one-on-one Co-Chair level meetings with MP Norlock and have briefly discussed the situation with MP Kramp and Federal Minister of Transport Lisa Raitt. Both MP Kramp and Minister Raitt have offered their help to lobby the appropriate senior levels of Government. We have also had a Co-Chair level meeting with Parks Canada Superintendent Cunningham.
The interim executive committee of the MCDO, with the assistance, has also met several times to review our progress and strategy. Brighton Council has been supportive of MCDO efforts and has welcomed our input to the resolutions they have passed.
We have had expressions of support for our efforts from the Brighton and Cramahe Chamber of Commerce, many local businesses and from the Friends of Presqu’ile organization.
As of this morning, we have launched formal Federal Access to Information requests to get the information disclosure we requested and presented to all the parties at the April 23rd, 2014 public meeting. We would welcome the assistance of Parks Canada to expedite our request. Our previously submitted information request has been slightly updated and is attached to this email for review and action by any who can assist.
MCDO Next Steps
Our next immediate steps are
(1) To ensure the public is aware of the situation.
(2) To support MP Norlock in his efforts.
(3) To support the Municipality of Brighton in their efforts to grapple with this problem.
(4) To connect with senior government officials at all levels and senior Parks Canada officials to explore all options to resolve this problem.
(5) To get the information disclosure we need to explore all options to resolve this problem.
We are very concerned by the lack of information disclosure and the continuation of the single lane bridge project. Unless MP Norlock is successful with his efforts to secure additional Federal funding and commitments in the next two or three weeks or the municipalities come up with other options, it is very likely we will be saddled with a single lane bridge.
The MCDO is considering its next steps and will communicate back to this group as soon as possible.
In the meantime, we welcome any comments or suggestions from all parties addressed or cc’d on this note.
MCDO is a non-partisan, public advocacy group dedicated to improved quality of life in the area of the Murray Canal and the surrounding three municipalities.
<MCDO Questions for Disclosure.pdf>