The forestry industry is seeking a boost in funding provided for the maintenance of forest access roads.
Ian Dunn, President of the Ontario Forest Industries Association, presented their case during a pre-budget meeting this week in Timmins.
Dunns says the current allocation of $54 million is no longer adequate
“Using inflation calculators, the program needs to be increased to $64 million annually to keep pace with inflation,” says Dunn.
Dunn adds forest companies estimate an additional need of $20 million in unfunded forest road liabilities.
He says this would include annual road maintenance, the replacement of aging bridges and water crossings, and the replacement of certain roads at the end of their lifespan.
“Based on MNR surveys, ten per cent of forest roads have been identified as having potential safety hazards and another per cent of forest roads requiring maintenance in the next one to five years, with all forest roads requiring maintenance in the next ten years.”
Dunn notes there are 290,000 forest roads and 2700 water crossings and bridges across this province.
While built for logging purposes, he says tens of thousands of people, businesses, anglers and hunters, cottagers and emergency services use the roads annually and depend on them being safe and well maintained.