Township of Chapleau

Open Letter to Provincial Election Candidates Re: Emergency Infrastructure Funding

Posted: May 27, 2022
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Open Letter to Provincial Election Candidates
Re: Emergency Infrastructure Funding

May 27th, 2022 – Chapleau, Ontario - First and foremost, we want to congratulate each of you for taking the initiative to potentially lead in this great part of our province. Northern Ontario is an extremely vital component and seems to be significantly reflected in each of your political campaigns including continuing support for economic development, First Nations, natural resources, and support for medium to small/rural municipalities across the north that govern such a vast area of this province. Chapleau is among one of those small/rural communities, one that requires much-needed financial assistance to continue to operate in a way that allows our residents and its governing body to operate effectively into the near future.
As you are obviously aware, Chapleau is located in central Northeastern Ontario, in the heart of the Canadian Shield. Chapleau is geographically isolated; the nearest cities are Sault Ste. Marie, Timmins, and Sudbury, but all are at least a two-hour drive away. Highway 129 links the town with Highway 101, running east to Timmins and west to Wawa. Highway 129 also runs south, connecting with the Trans-Canada Highway, Highway 17 at Thessalon, 227 km (141 mi) from Chapleau. Regardless, we continue to play an extremely key role linking tourism opportunities with several outfitters and lodges operating in the area and home to our main employers including the Canadian Pacific Railway, Green First Forest Products and Newmont Goldcorp. The community’s population is now just under 2,000.
As a small community in Northern Ontario, Chapleau and others continue to struggle financially endeavoring to find an appropriate balance between property tax assessment on a few commercial operators and the community’s residential population. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant setbacks to our area in Chapleau, similar to so many other communities across the north. Regardless, we continue to strive to lay the groundwork for new economic development and increased population to this beautiful and picturesque part of the province.
Specifically, our financial requirements to maintain critical infrastructure capacity in Chapleau is now at a desperate situation, especially when addressing emergency repairs directly related to watermain/forcemain breaks in the community. Our infrastructure and streets, in some instances, now date back to the early 1900’s and are in need of dire preventative replacement before they fall into the “emergency repair” category. Emergency repairs, without debate, has and will continue to cause significant cost burdens with major implications on our reserve fund balances with no ability for our community to plan for future rehabilitation projects.

The Township of Chapleau has unfortunately had its share of emergency repair costs on streets and watermain breaks over the last few years and we are bracing for additional infrastructure problems related to these issues causing additional strains on our already depleted reserve fund balances. Our financial ability to address rehabilitation of this key infrastructure in Chapleau is not keeping up with the pace at which it is deteriorating, and the cost of these on-going emergency repairs is not sustainable for our community.
The cost of managing aging municipal infrastructure creates a desperate need for financial policy development from your respective political parties. The policy should address immediate access to an “emergency infrastructure and repair fund” for those who can viably demonstrate a combination of both financial and emergency requirements in order to quickly repair key community infrastructure components. The capital fund should also be available for long-term and planned infrastructure replacement in small/rural communities in the north with aging components critical to the operation of the municipality.
As a small/rural community in the north, with limited commercial operators and population base, Chapleau is unable to continue to raise taxes and maintain acceptable levels of service while also endeavoring to conduct emergency repairs on aging infrastructure without the critical assistance of the Provincial Government.
On behalf of the Council of the Township of Chapleau, we implore you to take a position of strength and leadership on this important issue for our community and we look forward to your response on this matter. Thank you for your rapid attention on this issue and look forward to either addressing this with you in person or by telephone at your earliest convenience.

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Best regards,
Mayor Michael Levesque

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