Ontario’s Premier Kathleen Wynne announced this week that applications were open for a $100-million new Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund.
The funding is intended to be a stable resource for small, rural and northern municipalities to help them build critical road, bridge, water and wastewater projects. However, some municipal leaders say the funds are not enough to solve the infrastructure deficit in these communities.
To be eligible for the Community Infrastructure Fund, municipalities must have a population of less than 100,000 as of the 2011 census, or they must be located in northern or rural Ontario.
Ontario municipalities with populations less than 100,000 can also propose projects for the Small Communities Fund which is jointly funded by the province and federal governments. To ease the administrative burden for small municipalities, the province worked with the federal government to closely align the two funds.
Barry Steinberg, chief executive officer of Consulting Engineers of Ontario, said about the announcement: “It’s encouraging to see the province has built flexibility in to this process. It recognizes the inherent depth of planning and coordination necessary for successful economic development. If communities can have a say and be part of the funding process, they will be more active in their strategic asset planning. Local leaders know what their communities need in terms of infrastructure refurbishment and new construction to grow and prosper. The province supporting these needs is what translates in to more jobs and better infrastructure.”
The province is accepting expressions of interest now and expects that grants will be awarded next year.
Wynne said in her announcement: “I believe the success of our small, rural and northern communities is intrinsically connected to the success of our entire province. The fund we are launching today will help build up our infrastructure, and create jobs and opportunity in every part of the province.”