Town handed gas tax windfall

The Town of Fort Frances got a financial shot-in-the-arm Monday night when Thunder Bay-Rainy River MP Ken Boshcoff handed Mayor Dan Onichuk a cheque for $162,137.22—its first instalment of funds from the “New Deal for Cities and Communities.”
“I am so pleased to see these funds flowing to our communities,” said Boshcoff. “These dollars will allow Fort Frances to invest in important projects that will improve the quality of life of our citizens.”
“We are happy to see the commitment is flowing,” echoed Mayor Onichuk. “The money will offset costs and enhance our current systems, and possible future changes.”
Mayor Onichuk said it’s not confirmed as to exactly what the gas tax funds will be used for at this time.
At one time, the town was looking to possibly get permission to use them towards the reconstruction of the Portage Avenue underpass.
But upon hearing the town was getting $883,409 from the recently-announced provincial budget, that money may be used for the underpass instead.
“My personal opinion is we’re getting that money based on our transit, and I think it should be reinvested in transit,” the mayor hinted.
The New Deal for Cities and Communities is a five-year agreement that provides municipalities with a share of federal gas tax revenues.
Fort Frances is expected to receive roughly $1.3 million over the term of the agreement, Boshcoff’s office said in a press release Monday.
The intent of this Liberal initiative was for these funds to continue in perpetuity. However, the new Conservative government has indicated it may cancel the program when the agreement expires in 2009, the release added.