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Big funds for water infrastructure in Ontario — but short timeline


Old water pipe being replaced in Toronto. Photo: CCE/BP

Old water pipe being replaced in Toronto. Photo: CCE/BP

A new federal-provincial agreement, announced September 13 in Toronto, paves the way for at least $1.1 billion in funding for municipal water, wastewater and storm-water projects, across Ontario.

The timeline is short: municipalities will have to propose how they intend to use the funds by October 31, 2016.

A statement said that the funding will be allocated to municipalities on a formula system based on the proportion of infrastructure that they have “and their economic conditions”  However,  there will be a base allocation of $50,000 federal and $25,000 provincial funds to ensure that all municipalities benefit.

The Clean Water and Wastewater Fund was announced in the 2016 federal budget. Federal funding can be used for up to 50% of eligible projects.  Projects are to be completed by March 2018 but the federal Minister has the ability to accept some projects that are longer in length. The federal budget allocated 25% of the funds in 2019 to accommodate this possibility.

Municipal organizations have welcomed the funding program. Ronald Holman, president of the Rural Ontario Municipal Association, for example, said: “This approach benefits smaller, rural municipalities, who don’t have time and money to invest in uncertain application processes.”  He noted that rural water, wastewater and storm water systems must serve large, sparsely populated areas using limited financial resources.”

Also announced on September 14 was an initial list of 41 approved projects under the funding program. The list includes important work to create a new landmass around the current Essroc Quay in Toronto that will stabilize the area shoreline under flood conditions; replace aging water mains and provide sanitary and storm water services in Barrie; retrofit work for ponds in Brampton to enhance water quality and control erosion; upgrades to the main water line and the construction of a new storm water treatment plant in Sudbury; improvements to the Hespeler wastewater treatment plant in Waterloo; and upgrades to the snow disposal facility in Guelph. These projects will greatly contribute to ensuring that communities across Ontario have access to clean and reliable drinking water, efficient wastewater systems, and healthy rivers and lake

The Government of Canada will provide $570 million (50%) of the funding. The Government of Ontario will provide $275 million (25%), and receiving municipalities will provide a total of at least $275 million (25%). In all, the agreement will facilitate about $1.1 billion in new investment.

To read the press release, click here.