Politicians across the region are lauding an announcement by Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau of $6 million in funding for a long-sought-after Oversized Load Corridor that will save fabricators many more millions while making the sector more sustainable for years to come.
Wednesday’s announcement, which was attended by Member of Parliament Marilyn Gladu and Member of Provincial Parliament Bob Bailey in addition to others, included details—the $6 million is a maximum contribution for up to half of total eligible cost for the project.
Included in those costs is the permanent move of utility infrastructure along a corridor that will go from fabricator sites near and on Plank Road to the Sarnia Harbour, as well as improvements to the harbour itself, allowing modules built in the area to be easily loaded on ships headed to customers.
Gladu said she was pleased to see the announcement, calling it a “signature campaign promise” she made when she ran for office in 2015.
“It’s important to note that we have been able to work cooperatively at all levels of government and business to see this proposal gain the federal funding required to fully proceed,” added Gladu. “I’m excited for the future job opportunities that this project will create for our local economy.”
At the provincial level, area MPPs Bob Bailey (Sarnia-Lambton) and Monte McNaughton (Lambton-Kent-Middlesex) both said the announcement was welcome, especially given their combined advocacy for funding for the project.
“After years of inability to move oversized loads without costly disruptions to local residents and businesses, I’m happy to finally see this funding be announced,” said McNaughton, a former Minister of Infrastructure for the province.
Bailey added that the efforts of McNaughton to advocate for the project were instrumental in seeing this announcement come to fruition.
McNaughton is said to have worked to strengthen the business case for the project. In January, after calls for proposals were issued for the National Trade Corridors Fund, McNaughton directed Ministry staff to provide strategic advice to the City of Sarnia to bolster its application.
Bailey also advocated for the project and spoke with local officials on numerous occasions, including a delegation meeting at the Rural Ontario Municipal Association (ROMA) conference.
Separately, officials with the City of Sarnia, County of Lambton, Township of St. Clair and the Sarnia-Lambton Industrial Alliance secured $6 million for the project. With this announcement, the remaining half of funding will come from the NTCF.