Thursday, June 20, 2024
Ontario Transportation Minister Prabmeet Sarkaria; Energy Minister Todd Smith; Labour Minister David Piccini; and Port Hope Mayor Olena Hankivsky at the October 20 Electric Vehicles charging station announcement. Photo: RWN

Sarkaria plans to visit Northern Ontario highways 11 and 17

“Truck drivers are the heartbeat of our economy”

Click the white arrow at left to view the video.

Minister of Transportation Prabmeet Sarkaria says he will travel to Northern Ontario to see highways, including Highway 11/17, for himself.

Sarkaria visited Port Hope, Ontario October 20th to announce investments in the province’s Electric Vehicle charging station program and took questions from reporters. Road Warrior News asked the first question, which was “What do you plan to do to make sure Northern Ontario highways are safer this year than last year?”

“We’ve made significant expansions and commitments to investments on highway 11, highway 17, we’re going to be I’m going to personally be visiting the North as well to take a look at all the highways and ensure that we’re working towards and continue to work towards safety continuously being a priority there,” Sarkaria told a group of media and local dignitaries who got caught in a pelting rain shower during the announcement.

“You know, truck drivers are the heartbeat of our economy, we will do everything in anything in our power to ensure that those roads be kept safe, and that we continue to build that infrastructure.

“Now, we have committed to $27 billion over the next 10 years to invest in those critical highways that connect not only Ontario, but Canada to the to the world across from British Columbia to Ontario. So that’s a very important that for us. And we’ll continue to ensure those investments are being made.”

Winter 2022/23 was notorious for the frequency and severity of accidents in Ontario’s north, including one in which a transport truck left the highway and crashed into two houses, and another in which the driver of a snowplow was killed. At that time, Truckers for Safer Highways (TFSH) spoke at a press conference arranged by the New Democratic Party (NDP) Northern Caucus to call on Ontario to do more to improve road safety. Increased enforcement of regulations, opening more of the existing inspection stations, and better winter driving training for new drivers are key, said TFSH’s Travis McDougall.

The Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario (TTSAO) chair Ken Adams met with Minister Sarkaria in the earliest days after he was shuffled to Transportation from Treasury Board to address a number of topics including winter road safety in the north.

Sarkaria was joined by Port Hope mayor Olena Hankivsky, local Member of Provincial Parliament and Labour Minister David Piccini, and Energy Minister Todd Smith at the event.

Starting October 20th, the province is accepting applications for the EV ChargeON program to build publicly accessible charging stations in communities with less than 170,000 people, as well as in any Indigenous community in Ontario. Eligible applicants include businesses, not-for-profit corporations, municipalities, Indigenous businesses, organizations and communities, and broader public sector organizations like hospitals and universities.

The province’s $91 million investment in the EV ChargeON program will also help build moreEV chargers on government-owned land, including Ontario’s highway rest areas, carpool parking lots and tourist destinations such as Ontario Parks.

The EV ChargeON program consists of two streams: the Community Sites Stream and the Government Sites Stream. Applications for the EV ChargeON Community Sites Stream, a competitive grant subsidy program, are now open for eligible private and public sector entities. Eligible applicants have until January 31, 2024, to submit their application.

As of September 2023, there were more than 135,000 EVs registered in Ontario, including both battery-electric vehicles (BEV) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV). By 2030, over one million EVs are expected on Ontario’s roads.

At present, there are over 2,900 public charging stations with 7,900 ports (or outlets) in Ontario. These include 6,600 Level 2 ports and 1,300 Level 3 fast-charging ports.