Ontario investing $200 million in local infrastructure welcome news for Island municipalities

TORONTO – On Monday, the Honourable Laurie Scott, minister of infrastructure, announced a $200 million investment in municipalities through the 2021 Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund (OCIF) to help 424 small, rural and Northern communities build and repair roads, bridges, water and wastewater infrastructure. And on Tuesday the province announced it will be providing $125 million to small and rural communities to help municipalities improve delivery of critical programs and services.

“COVID-19 has created challenges for everyone, including our municipal partners,” said Minister Scott.  “By making this stable, predictable investment, our government is not only improving critical infrastructure, we are strengthening local economies, creating jobs and laying the foundation for our long-term recovery.” 

“It’s good news,” stated Ken Noland, reeve of Burpee and Mills and chair of the Manitoulin Municipal Association (MMA). “Any money we get from the province is certainly good news. Its guaranteed funds which is good; compared to capital grants in which municipalities compete against others for funds in a competitive process, and then after laying out funds and completing the application process they can be turned down.”

Dan Osborne, mayor of the Town of Gore Bay told the Recorder, “yes, it is good news that the province is continuing this funding. The province had been talking in past years about taking away this or other funding, but these are the types of funds that help municipalities operate.”

Assiginack Township will receive the same amount of grant funding it did in 2020, at $104,319.00; Billings will receive $50,000 this year; Burpee and Mills, $50,000; Central Manitoulin, $90,232; Cockburn Island, $50,000; Gordon/Barrie Island, $50,000; Town of Gore Bay, $88,250; Killarney, $50,000; Town of Northeastern Manitoulin and the Islands, $78,507; and Tehkummah, $50,000. 

OCIF helps eligible communities invest in local infrastructure and asset management planning to address their priority needs. The province uses a formula to distribute funding, recognizing that municipalities have different infrastructure needs. These investments will help eligible communities attract jobs and investment, as well as build local capacity to grow and thrive.

OCIF provides funding for communities with populations under 100,000 along with all rural and Northern communities for local infrastructure projects.

The Ontario government also announced it is investing over $40 million during COVID-19 to help small and rural municipalities improve the delivery of critical programs and services. The funding, under the Municipal Modernization Program, is part of the government’s $125 million investment through 2022-2023 to help small and rural municipalities become more efficient and save taxpayers’ dollars.

“Our government recognizes that COVID-19 has created challenges for everyone, including small and rural municipalities,” said Steve Clark, minister of municipal affairs and housing. “By working hand in hand with our local partners, we have ensured that vital services continue to be delivered to individuals, families and businesses. The funding we are announcing will build on the progress we have made together and allow for further review and modernization of local service so we can get the best return on taxpayers dollars.”

“Now that we’re in 2021, municipalities have a solid understanding of what they need to do to manage the impacts of COVID-19 moving forward,” said Minister Clark. “Households across Ontario are making tough financial choices as they plan for the year and Ontario has done the same.”

“Like all of us, municipalities face a difficult fiscal reality and they must also adapt,” continued Mr. Clark. “That’s why, today, I am pleased to announce that we are launching a new intake for projects under the Municipal Modernization Program.”

In his speech Minister Clark said, “we know how important the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund (OMPF) is to you.  You’ve said many times OMPF is key. That’s why we are maintaining the overall structure of the fund and providing municipalities with $500 million in 2021.” 

The announcements were made during the 2021 Rural Municipalities of Ontario Association (ROMA) conference where Premier Doug Ford, ministers, associate ministers and parliamentary assistants joined hundreds of municipal officials for the first-ever virtual ROMA conference. They held meetings with almost 300 municipal delegations and reaffirmed the government’s commitment to protect the health and safety of Ontarians, and work in partnership with municipalities to stop the spread of COVID-19.