A Federal Partner
This year the beginning of December will be marked with more than just the normal excitement associated with the annual Santa Claus parade and Christmas cheer. On December 1st our new town councils and the Region of Durham council assumed office following the municipal election in the fall.
In Scugog, the municipal election led to several new residents winning the support of residents. There will be a new Mayor and a number of new councillors stepping forward to serve. I want to wish Mayor Rowett and the new council well as they embark on their term in office. I would also like to thank outgoing Mayor Chuck Mercier and members of Scugog Council who are not returning for their service to our community. In Uxbridge, Mayor Gerri-Lynn O’Connor was returned for her ninth term in office and most of the council is returning to serve. In Clarington, Mayor Foster was returned to a second term in office and most of the council were re-elected. There were some hotly contested wards and it was a very close race, but by and large most candidates, successful or not, focused on our success as a community and varying plans for the future. Public office is an honour, but I also know that it comes with responsibility and hours upon hours of work that is unnoticed by most people.
I have been fortunate in my first two years as Member of Parliament to build strong relationships with the municipal councils and departments in the riding of Durham. The way I look at things, each level of government can help secure our future in different ways, so I am always looking to build partnerships and a common vision for our future. In recent years I am very proud of our government’s move towards making funding for municipal roads and infrastructure more stable and predictable so that town councils can plan on revenues and their own priorities. Since 2006, the Region of Durham has received over a $105 Million from the federal government as a share of the gas tax. We have made this transfer of funding permanent and have locked it in with an indexed increase for inflation. In 2014-15, apart from the funding for the Region of Durham, our riding of Scugog, Clarington and Uxbridge will receive a combined total of over $3.7 million for local infrastructure priorities. This amount is based on a per capita calculation that is now predictable portion of funding for councils.
In my first two years I have also tried to prioritize job training and summer jobs funding for our area. The Canada Summer Jobs Program has been targeted to support heritage and local museums, agriculture and the tourism sector in Durham, so that student positions paid for by the federal government can help non-profits or other summer-based enterprises to thrive. For example, the Durham Farm and Rural Family Resources organization was able to hire students to care for children who live on farms as part of a strategy to keep these children safe and supervised while their parents are ‘on the job’, in their Summer On Farm Childcare Program. This funding helped provide jobs for students in rural areas and also directly benefitted our Durham families living and working in the agricultural sector.
In July, I was pleased to announce our government’s investment of $129,402 in federal funding for improvements to the Blackstock Community Centre. I was proud that the federal government could partner with the local community in updating this iconic community centre so that it can continue to act as a local sporting and cultural hub not only for Blackstock, but residents across Durham. I was also able to meet with municipal leaders on the Build Canada Plan and its specific program, the Small Communities Fund, dedicated for infrastructure needs of smaller communities. Our government ensures that there is a special funding model for smaller communities that have challenges raising the funds needed for all their needs.
I look forward to continuing to build strong relationships with with the Mayors and all members of the three councils in the riding of Durham. I want them to know that they have a strong champion in Ottawa for our area and anything I can do to help support our community will be a priority for me.