A New Road from Dresden to Chatham Via the Abandoned Railroad

Dresden Chatham RdThis week we will hear from Finance Minister Jim Flaherty regarding Canada’s action plan, which has to do with the billions of dollars spent since 2008 on jumpstarting Canada’s economy and keeping us out of an economic depression.  You cannot go anywhere in this country and not see the signs which exclaim the government’s virtue of working together to create economic wealth.

There are examples everywhere of the spending.  I could probably walk three blocks from my house and find one of those signs in Dresden.  Simply put our government has been spending money hand over fist.  In the uncertain economic times after the 2008 meltdown, I think there were many Canadians very thankful for that.  At the time everybody had their hand on their wallet having seen their savings go up in smoke.  So having our government start to spend money in a lavish fashion was seen as a good thing to maintain credit liquidity within the economy, create jobs and give us some hope.  This week I think you’ll hear finance Minister Jim Flaherty talks about ratcheting that down.

In Chatham Kent, there are a myriad of things that could be done to stimulate economic activity.  I recently told a perspective municipal politician my idea to improve transportation infrastructure in North Chatham Kent.  In this part of the municipality a railroad is being abandoned and removed or it is at least on schedule to be.  It just so happens that this railroad goes on a diagonal through farm country to Chatham from Dresden.  If this railroad were replaced with an actual road for cars and trucks and everything else we would cut the transportation time between Dresden and Chatham in half.  It would be an economic boom to both Chatham and Dresden and it would be a safer road to boot.  Look at any Google map and you will see how much of a time and cost saver this new road would be.  It is there for the world to see.

When I mentioned it to the prospective local politician, I’m not sure quite what he thought. It is just too bad that an idea like that could not have been included with the now winding down Canada action plan.  Infrastructure spending is always a good thing because it lasts a long time.  A new road between Dresden and Chatham on an already existing railroad route would be a real job creator.

Unfortunately much of the stimulus funding that our government has been spending over the last two years doesn’t necessarily add up to more and more jobs.  For instance I recently read a Globe and Mail editorial written by Barrie McKenna which talked about Kitchener Waterloo’s Oktoberfest receiving $700,000, Winnipeg receiving 3.2 million for any indoor skateboard park and climbing wall, a motorized orchestra pit at a concert hall in Rimouski Quebec and $2.5 million to repair a busted hockey rink in Iqaluit.  I don’t know about that stuff.  I’m sure there were a few jobs created but something tells me people would’ve gone to Oktoberfest in Kitchener Waterloo without that $700,000.

However, I don’t want to be critical.  In 2008 when the economic meltdown happened, I was one of those telling government to spend money.  In fact I would be more content if government continued to spend money on actual infrastructure, bricks and mortar, buildings, etc.  I don’t know where that $700,000 went at Oktoberfest but a $700,000 building erected in Chatham Kent to house federal workers or to house an agricultural research unit would be lasting forever.  The economic spinoff from would too.  Needless to say, I don’t think government always gets that; the need to feed pork-barrel politics always seems to get in the way.

So if some federal government someday decides to help fund the Dresden to Chatham superhighway along the railroad line cutting transportation time in half, I’ll look the other way.  It will probably take some pork barreling politics to do that.  I just hope somebody picks up the ball and runs with it.

When the belt-tightening comes at the federal level like finance Minister Jim Flaherty says it is going to, I hope it doesn’t hurt too much.  We all love spending money and enjoying the benefits but saving the money and getting our benefits reduced is not so much fun.  Much of what will happen in the near future with regard to our economy will be based on economic levers in the United States and other places.  Finance Minister Jim Flaherty says those people would like to be like Canada, in that our fiscal house is in order.  I hope he is right, because sometimes when I look at how all this money has been spent over the last two years, I’m not so sure.  I just hope we get that new road to Chatham.