Ontario towns grapple with power dam subsidy reduction
A small township north of Timmins is taking a big blow to its coffers with the reduction of a provincial subsidy.
But, unlike Wawa, Fauquier-Strickland will continue to pay for provincial services, even though the mayor says the township will lose $81,000 from its $1.4 million budget.
A reduction in the Power Dam Special Payment program — one that compensates municipalities because they're barred from taxing hydro dams — is affecting small rural Ontario towns that have power dams.
The province won't be off-setting that revenue loss as much as it used to.
Fauquier-Strickland Mayor Madeleine Tremblay says her 600 rate-payers would have to shoulder a 15 per cent hike to recoup the loss, but she said she won't impose the burden.
“We cannot raise our taxes like this. If the cost of living would not be that high, it would be understandable, but everything is raising everywhere. There's no way: the people won't be able to afford their houses.”
But unlike Wawa, Tremblay plans to pay her share of provincial services such as the OPP.
Provincial police superintendent Richard Philbin said Wawa's resolution not to pay won't affect policing.
“As far as the operations and the safety and security of the municipality, that won't be jeopardized in any way,” he said.
In a statement from the provincial finance ministry, a spokesman says this year's subsidy will be paid, on time, next month.
The subsidy is expected to be reduced by about 25 per cent next year.
Scott Blodgett also said staff members are working with Wawa, and other communities, to address their concerns.
In the meantime, Tremblay says she won't endorse Wawa’s approach.
She said the province could retaliate — although she's not sure how.
“I don't know because they can just come back and just charge us interest on everything else,” she said.
“So sometimes there's a double jeopardy to that … One way or another you can get punished.”