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Funding delays causing headaches for Durham Region

Looming deadlines have put over $12 million of funding from feds in journey

Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express

The region is looking for looser deadlines for completing water and transit projects that receive federal and provincial funding after looming deadlines has put $12.5 million of funding in jeopardy.

Durham Region will receive $22.04 million from the federal government and $11.02 million from the provincial government for 15 projects approved under the Clean Water and Wastewater Fund (CWWF). The region will also kick in $11.02 million for the projects.

However, approval delays may put some of those projects in danger of not being completed by the interim March 31, 2018 and final March 31, 2019 deadlines, according to a report from commissioner of finance Jim Clapp.

In his report to regional council, Clapp wrote, “Approximately $8 million in grant funded expenditures may not be incurred by the specified timelines even with the above recommended efforts to accelerate the procurement process and the Region would have to fully fund 100 per cent of these costs.”

In response to these concerns, regional council has approved a staff recommendation to request the federal and provincial governments “acknowledge the challenges municipalities will face ensuring quality projects are completed within the tight deadlines” by providing an extension to December 2019 for the final deadline.

Mary Simpson, director of financial planning and purchasing told The Oshawa Express there has been indication to the region that the interim deadline for the projects will be extended.

“It’s a positive sign,” Simpson said.

Similarly, a number of regional transit projects that were approved for grants from the Public Transit Infrastructure Fund (PTIF) may be in jeopardy of not being completed on time as well. Durham Region has 10 projects, worth $35 million, that were approved under PTIF.

According to Clapp’s report, an estimated $9 million in total PTIF costs may not be eligible for the 50 per cent federal funding as they may extend past the required PTIF deadlines, which are the same as the CWWF.

In all between CWWF and PTIF projects, $12.5 million in senior government funding could go by the wayside, leaving the region on the hook to pay.

Clapp noted in his report that “staff are currently in the process of refining work plans” and will attempt to “mitigate” projects risks.