FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MONDAY, MARCH 1, 2021
BAY OF QUINTE – Ontario is providing an additional $968,509 in funding to help local municipalities address the financial impacts on its transit system from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Todd Smith, MPP for Bay of Quinte, announced the City of Belleville will receive $871,198, the City of Quinte West, $87,503, and Prince Edward County, $8,815, through their Phase 3 allocations under the Safe Restart Agreement.
“This is great news for our local municipalities,” said Smith. “COVID-19 continues to impact our transit system and this additional funding will ensure local transit can continue to operate and provide a vital service for those who need it.”
This funding is part of an additional $150 million allocated by the Province on top of the $2 billion previously committed by Ontario and the federal government through the Safe Restart Agreement to help municipalities continue to deliver critical transit services. Including all three phase, the total Safe Restart Agreement transit investments in Bay of Quinte to date are: Belleville - $2,915,714; Quinte West - $328,788; and Prince Edward County - $69,045.
Funding amounts have been allocated based on a formula driven by ridership. During the peak of the pandemic, ridership dropped up to 90 per cent of normal levels for some of Ontario’s transit systems, which resulted in significant financial impacts for municipalities.
Belleville Mayor Mitch Panciuk was pleased to receive the funding.
“The City of Belleville has been committed to providing residents with safe, reliable and uninterrupted transit service since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Panciuk. “Altering our transit system to ensure this service was maintained has come at a high cost but was necessary to allow residents to continue to get to work, appointments and essential services. This funding is greatly appreciated and will go a long way in making sure our residents continue to have access to these necessities.”
The additional $150 million in provincial funding means that there is a total of $650 million in funding still available to municipalities up to Dec. 31, 2021, with extensions to December 2022 granted on a case-by-case basis. In addition, Ontario is calling on the federal government to match the additional funding announced today to help ensure municipal financial needs continue to be met.
“We heard from municipalities and we are responding to their need for more support as COVID-19 continues to result in lost revenue and additional costs for transit systems,” said Caroline Mulroney, Ontario’s Minister of Transportation. “Transit operators have done an incredible job keeping transit operating during this challenging time, and this support will help ensure there is reliable transportation for people can get to work or pick up essential items.”
As part of the Safe Restart Agreement funding, municipalities need to work with the province to explore options to ensure local transit is safe, sustainable, affordable and integrated, both during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
To support this work, Ontario is allowing municipalities to use Safe Restart Agreement funding towards new initiatives to make it easier and more affordable to travel between different transit systems, like adding capacity for on-demand micro-transit and increasing fare and service integration across the region.
“We are committed to supporting our municipal partners in their mission to build back transit ridership when we come out of this pandemic,” said Kinga Surma, Ontario’s Associate Minister of Transportation. “We recognize there’s an opportunity now to work with our partners to ensure transit is safe, sustainable and affordable, both during COVID-19 and as we begin to recover.”