Million dollar invesments hightlight for Bailey in 2022

The announcement of a $245 million Diageo whiskey distillery in St. Clair Township, a $12 million investment for a withdrawal management facility in Sarnia, a commitment to twin 7.5 kilometres of Highway 40 from Indian Road to Wellington Street were just some of the successes MPP Bob Bailey touted in 2022 which benefited Sarnia-Lambton.

Bailey took the time to reflect on the past year and looked to the challenges 2023 might present. All three project announcements were made before the provincial election in June. Bailey said the withdrawal management project is still in the planning and engineering stage. When the project was announced, it was estimated it would take two years before shovels were in the ground. Also, the Diageo distillery is not expected to be fully operational until 2025.

Residents will still have to wait at least another two years for the twinning of Highway 40, as this will be how long it will take to complete a preliminary design and class environmental assessment study, which was started by the province at a cost of $2.65 million. This project has been in the work for years as the Ministry of Transportation completed a preliminary design study in 2004.

The building of the distillery, which will bring jobs to the area, will likely put a further squeeze on the housing market. Bailey noted the government wants to see more than 100,000 homes built annually across the province over the next 10 years. This is why Bill 23, More Homes Built Faster Act, was passed, which is hoped will speed up the process of building homes at the development stages.

Bailey said this is why the Strong Mayors Act was also passed, giving more powers to the mayor in Ontario’s two largest cities, Toronto and Ottawa. In the case where the council is slowing a process for political reasons, there is a mechanism for the mayor to override the process. Bailey said Toronto Mayor John Tory welcomed the changes while Ottawa Mayor Mark Sutcliffe said he won’t use his new powers. “The Ottawa mayor might find out he might need it,” said Bailey.

There is no talk of extending the new powers to other municipalities, said Bailey but if cities like London or Windsor can show they need it, the provincial government could look at it.

There are some whispers of municipal amalgamations making some municipal leaders concerned. Bailey hasn’t heard any of this talk, saying he would not like to see any forced amalgamations, but if a municipality feels it would be beneficial, it can always be talked about.

Health care is still a major concern, especially with flu season rearing its head this time of year. The lack of medications on pharmacy shelves is a concern. Bailey said a lot of the problem is Canada is relying on foreign markets to produce many of these medications. He would like to see more being produced in Canada, or even in North America.

Bailey is currently the parliamentary assistant to the solicitor general so the recent killing of the OPP constable is top of mind. He feels the bail process should be improved, citing the alleged assailant was on bail conditions and should not have been on the street. Bailey feels the federal government should be more focused on preventing smuggling of weapons across the border, instead of further banning types of guns and taking away firearms from law abiding citizens.

Blake Ellis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Independent