By Dianne Cornish
Hamilton will soon get official word of funding commitments for community projects from the federal government through its Community Infrastructure Improvement Fund (CIIF), MP David Sweet (Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale) said Saturday during his New Year’s levée in Waterdown.
Although “not at liberty” to say which of 18 projects submitted by the city will receive funding or how much, Sweet said in an interview that those and other details will soon be known as the process rolls out. “The process was slowed by the holidays,” he said, while adding that the funding announcement will be made “in the near future.”
In December, the city received unofficial word from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario that (CIIF) funding will be granted for expansion and renovations to the Ancaster Senior Achievement Centre and the rehabilitation and upgrade of the Sackville Senior Centre. The commitment from the government will be $500,000 for the Ancaster project and $650,000 for the Sackville project on Hamilton Mountain. The city will match the federal funding in each case.
One of the projects on the list for government funding was a $1.2-million renovation of Waterdown’s Memorial Hall.
Another local undertaking that has yet to secure a funding commitment from the Canadian government is the cleanup of chemical pollution at the Hamilton airport. The city wants the government to help pay for cleaning up perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) contamination caused by firefighting foam used 30 years ago during training at the site, when it belonged to the federal government.
Sweet said Transport Minister Denis Lebel, who rejected Hamilton’s request for funding assistance last summer while pointing out that the city accepted the airport lands “as is” in 1996, indicated late last month that he is “reviewing the file.” The Minister is also waiting to hear the results of a study by TradePort International Corp, operator of the airport, about the amount of contaminant on the site, the direction of its spread and the estimated cost of cleanup, the local MP said.
It’s estimated the cleanup could cost up to $4 million.
On the national front, Sweet confirmed that Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced last Friday that a meeting has been arranged for this Friday (Jan. 11) with a delegation of First Nations leaders coordinated by the Assembly of First Nations to continue ongoing dialogue from the historic Crown-First Nations Gathering held last January. The meeting will focus on the treaty relationship and aboriginal rights, and economic development.
Sweet didn’t know if Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence, who launched a hunger strike, consuming only liquids, Dec. 11 to promote a meeting with the federal government about treaty rights, would be at Friday’s meeting as Harper left it up to the Assembly of First Nations to choose which native leaders will attend, but Spence has said she expects to be there. Spence has vowed to continue her strike until she has weighed the outcome of the meeting.
“Canada’s economy continues to outperform all Western countries,” Sweet said as he talked about the Conservative government’s plans to continue its focus on the economy, jobs and growth over the next year. Keeping the tax rate low, reducing government spending, looking at more ways to reduce government red tape and balancing the federal books are also priorities, he said.
About 100 people attended Sweet’s levée at the Waterdown Legion Hall, where they got an opportunity to talk with their MP and enjoy refreshments, including cake, sandwiches, tea, coffee or hot apple cider.