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News from around the region

Regional legal fees for transit battle with Oshawa released

It has been revealed the region spent $1.45 million in legal fees while battling the City of Oshawa over unfunded transit liabilities.

The two sides reached an agreement on the decade-long legal fight earlier this spring.

Oshawa agreed to pay $6.2 million, including $2 million up front, to the region to cover ‘unfunded liabilities’ spurring from the uploading of transit services to Durham in 2004.

Almost immediately after the settlement was formally announced, the city revealed its legal costs at $1.5 million.

Oshawa Councillor John Neal has long requested for the region’s legal costs to be released.

At the latest meeting of regional council, he asked that council consider reimbursing Oshawa for one-eight of its legal fees tied to the dispute, stating he felt it would show goodwill on behalf of Durham.

However, Oshawa Mayor John Henry contended that it would be unpractical to reopen the matter after a settlement was reached.

Regional chair Gerri Lynn O’ Connor agreed, and struck down Neal’s motion as out of order.

 

Provincial childcare funding boost for Durham

Durham Region is set to receive a $5 million-plus boost to its childcare budget.

The province is doling out $5,139,692 in ‘unbudgeted’ funding to the regional municipality for 2018.

This funding increases Durham’s total 2018 childcare allocation to $66,186,607.

Included in the new funding is:

– $2,757,606 for childcare expansion

– $1,976,485 for wage enhancements

– $405,561 for special purpose projects

About $1.3 million of the money is focused towards two new streams, operating funding for the expansion of childcare spaces and base funding for licensed home childcare.

Due to the increased funding, it is not anticipated the region will see any increased childcare costs this year.

However, staff note in a report to council that, “In the event that the level of 100 per cent provincial funding provided to the region does not increase to accommodate inflationary and contractual increases, or provide sufficient funding to cover the region’s administrative costs to deliver the increased level of service, the region’s costs would need to increase to maintain the same level of service to the community.”

 

Water storage/pumping facility will require Class EA

Subject to council approval, the region will award tender for completion of a Class Environmental Assessment (EA) for a major proposed project in northern areas of Oshawa and Whitby.

The project would see the construction of a new water storage and pumping facility to provide service to new developments in the booming area.

Regional staff has recommended awarding the tender to CIMA Canada Inc. a Mississauga-based company for $2.1 million, with an upset level not to exceed $376,150.

Seven other companies bid on the project but financial details were not available on the region’s website as of The Express’ press deadline.

The exact location of the proposed facility will be determined through the EA process.

 

Region calls on feds, province to review lakefront community safety plans

Regional council has supported a Town of Ajax resolution to review safety plans for communities fronting the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway.

The town’s council originally passed the resolution in late-April.

It calls on the federal and provincial governments to “strike a committee to review mitigation and safety plans for the communities fronting the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway.”

After historic levels of rain last spring, flooding wrecked havoc for lakefront communities.

In Oshawa, the total damage caused to the shoreline remains undetermined.

Last September, city staff estimated repairs to the pier at the Oshawa Harbour could be as high as $225,000.

The high water levels also caused damage along Lakeview Park Beach and erosion to the beach itself.

Oshawa Mayor John Henry says he supports the plan.

“We have a challenge in every municipality along the lakeshore with erosion. We have challenges with erosion in City of Oshawa with our Lakeview Park where we’ve put up a fence to stop people falling from off the edge into the lake,” Henry says. “Things are changing, so we need to be conscious of what’s going on, and remember when you lose shoreline, it’s gone. It’s important that we are at least having a discussion about safety along the shoreline of the Great Lakes, and I think that you’ll find they are talking about it along all the Great Lakes, on both sides of the border.”