With no new provincial funding coming to Sackville this year from the designated highway program, the much-anticipated roadwork and other infrastructure improvements in the Cattail Ridge area may have to be put on hold for a while longer.
Town engineer Dwayne Acton said Sackville won’t be getting any funding for upgrades to provincially-designated highways in 2019, meaning the work that was hoped to be done on a section of Cattail Ridge and Bridge Street as part of the Exit 506 area improvements will likely have to be deferred. The work was expected to include upgrades to the intersection, new sidewalks, curb and gutter and bike lanes.
Acton said the only funds that came through this year from the designated highway program was $75,000 to complete Main Street, which was an already-promised contribution from 2018.
He said the provincial government announced earlier this year that the funding for designated highways would be cut from $25 million down to $10 million in 2019.
Coun. Shawn Mesheau said he hopes town council will start having a more in-depth conversation about the impact these cuts will have on the community and the roadwork that was hoped would come through via this program over the next five years.
“We will need to take a closer look at how we plan to adapt to the fact that the provincial government isn’t applying as much money to designated highways anymore,” said Mesheau.
He said improvements to the Cattail Ridge area has been set as a priority by the current town council and it’s important to start considering ways to follow through on that.
“We have made a commitment to the folks in these areas and I think they’ll be looking for leadership from council to say, ‘okay we feel it’s important and we’re going to make it happen no matter how much money is coming from the province.’”
When the town handed over its ‘wish list’ to the provincial government last fall for roadwork it would like to see completed over the next five years on its provincially-designated highways, Cattail Ridge was placed at the top, followed by sections of Queens Road and Route 106 in alternating years.
Local freelancer Bruce Wark asked whether funds coming from the federal government – a one-time, top-up allocation of $414,082 the town recently learned it would be receiving as part of its gas tax program – could be used toward the Cattail Ridge project.
Chief administrative officer Phil Handrahan said that could be an option staff and council could consider.
“Basically staff will get together and identify a number of projects that it could be applied to and Catttail Ridge could be one,” he said. “And it would all come back to council to decide how and where they wish to see money allocated.”
But Handrahan did point out that the municipality would then need to pay the full costs of the Cattail Ridge project, rather than only 15 per cent if it came through the designated highway program instead.
“So it would be at the expense of municipal roads.”