Sustainable government funding for municipalities idea raised at AMO

OTTAWA—Another request has been made by the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) for sustainable funding being provided to Ontario municipalities to replace the current grant system.

“The 444 municipalities and townships in Ontario would like to see this take place,” said Al Spacek, president of the Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities (FONOM), following the AMO annual conference held in Ottawa last week. “It’s something that FONOM has been asking for, for several years now.”

“All our municipalities and townships have asset management plans, strategic and economic development plans in place,” said Mr. Spacek. “We (municipalities) have everything we need in place, except for some of the (financial) resources to carry these projects out.”

North Bay’s Mayor Al McDonald raised the idea of sustainable funding for municipalities at the AMO conference and presented this to the Ontario infrastructure minister. He said knowing how much money senior government will provide a town or city each year makes it easier for them to budget on projects.

Mr. McDonald told My North Bay Now his municipality has a 10 year capital asset management plan and that each year $30 to $40 million is spent on infrastructure. He says some projects need engineering studies and environmental assessments and explained municipalities spend money in both these areas to prepare for projects.

“If you don’t have money from the provincial or federal governments to help you, you do all that work and it kind of sits there until money becomes available,” Mr. McDonald said told My North Bay Now. However, if municipalities knew they have the money in advance, they could put that amount in their budget. This would allow municipalities to know exactly how much money they’re getting and municipalities would be able to select the projects they could afford to carry out.

Mr. McDonald said a sustainable funding model would be a big help to smaller municipalities that don’t have the resources to keep applying for grants, noting grants take time to fill out and when the application is rejected the municipality has spent a lot of time on something it can’t move forward.

Mr. Spacek told the Recorder that while the infrastructure minister was supportive of a sustainable funding model, there was no commitment made to this at the AMO conference.

“No, they (Ontario government) have not replied to the request for stable funding,” stated Mr. Spacek. They need there to listen to people, but this is their official line.”