This morning, all morning, I went to a meeting of the Niagara Region’s Public Works Committee. If you think Thorold moves slowly and ponderously, you should watch one of these, which is only a committee reporting to Regional Council.
We were there because we had been informed that they would be discussing a report on Thorold’s request for funding for the Port Robinson Ferry, which will die when the contract with the Seaway ends on March 31, 2016 and we had three speakers lined up to present the importance of the crossing. Well, the report was a great deal less than a report. In fact, it was mostly just a statement from staff that a report was asked for so here was a report telling them that the real report would come at some time in the future.
Well the presentations were made anyways: three very good presentations from three different interested groups. The Regional Councillors then asked questions, some good and that none of the presenters would likely be able to answer. That was the supposed purpose of their staff report that wasn’t, so the obvious frustration of a few of these Councillors was greatly misdirected at the speakers who couldn’t possibly have been expected to Regional staff’s work.
But one question from (I believe, but could be wrong) Regional Councillor Bob Gale was especially disingenuous (well, one of several) although, on the face of it, it may have seemed to make sense. He asked if anyone approached any from the list of businesses or organizations that stood to gain from the ferry had been asked to contribute. Hmm.
That’s not a bad suggestion, I suppose. So I’m guessing from that then that Brock University and businesses in the Schmon Pkwy. area have been asked to help pay for the new bridge going in on the Merrittville Highway. And it goes without saying that they asked all the businesses and organizations in downtown St. Catharines to cough up for the new multi-multi-million dollar Burgoyne Bridge.
I’m guessing that none of these things happened. And I can pretty much guess what the answer would be if you did have the gall to ask: they’d tell they donate regularly in their taxes.
The Port Robinson Ferry is part of a Regional cycling route and transportation route. The Seaway has chosen to ignore its responsibility to provide a crossing for the people of Port Robinson and of Niagara. If you’ve followed the infrastructure disaster that is Thorold, you know that our city doesn’t have the money, so they’ve asked for the Region’s help.
I consider the sometimes snide remarks made by Regional Councillors Gale and Petrowski to be insulting and unnecessary in regard to a request to help keep this Regional transportation corridor open in the face of Thorold’s inability to do so. It’s an honest request. I don’t think that putting Thorold down for asking is doing a service to Thorold, the Region or the people who pay their taxes to the Region for services that benefit the whole Region which a single small municipality can’t pay for.
In any event, I don’t know if Thorold will get an answer before the Region completes its budget. Judging by all the additional and supplementary information that the Regional Councillors requested to be in the staff report, by the time it’s done we’ll be able to use our personal transporters to get across.