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Bigger share of gas tax will mean transit improvements, says Minister of Transportation

He dropped off $2 million in Barrie this morning. In 2021-22, Barrie Transit could expect to see double that
transit group
Left to right Simcoe County Warden Gerry Marshall, Barrie Mayor Jeff Lehman, Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca, Barrie MPP Ann Hoggarth are pictured at the Barrie Transit Garage on Feb. 3, 2017. Sue Sgambati/BarrieToday

The province is promising fewer headaches for commuters as Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca dropped more than $2 million in gas tax funding in Barrie this morning.

Del Duca made the announcement at the Barrie Transit Garage on Welham Road where he was joined by Barrie MPP Ann Hoggarth, Mayor Jeff Lehman and Simcoe County Warden Gerry Marshall.

"Over the next couple of years, the provincial government will be literally doubling the amount of money that flows to municipalities that are eligible because they in turn fund transit," said Del Duca. 

Ontario's Liberal government says it will double the municipal share of its existing gas tax program from two cents a litre to four cents a litre by 2021.

With those increases in place, Barrie Transit would receive an estimated $2.5 million in 2019-20, $3 million in 2020-21 and $4 million in 2021-22.

Barrie's Mayor says the funding boost will allow the city to buy more buses, hire more drivers and meet the demands for disabled transportation, something he says the city is currently not doing.

"It's significant," said Lehman of the money, noting that by 2021, Barrie will have new neighbourhoods in the annexed lands.  

"We're going to need to serve those areas. What this does it helps us with the cost of growth but it also should create an opportunity for us to improve service for today's residents," said Lehman. 

"We use these funds to expand, provide better service to people in Barrie," he said.

The Mayor said Warden Marshall attended because the County is working on intercity transportation in Simcoe.

The province says that while municipalities will get more money, the tax gas consumers pay will not increase.

MPP Hoggarth called the announcement great news for commuters and families in Barrie.

"Our community is only successful when it can move, There are few things as important as ensuring that you can get to your job on time, or you can get to your doctor in an efficient and easy manner," said Hoggarth.