Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, announced 27 joint projects to be funded through the Municipal Modernization Program at the 2020 Rural Ontario Municipal Association (ROMA) conference which wrapped up in Toronto last week.
“Our government is working with our municipal partners to make life more affordable, deliver smarter government services, create a more competitive business climate and build rural Ontario together,” said Minister Clark. “I’m pleased so many municipalities are working together on these joint projects that will help deliver more efficient services for local people and businesses in Ontario’s small and rural communities.”
The application-based Municipal Modernization Program is open to Ontario’s 405 small and rural municipalities to help them find better, more efficient ways to operate and serve their residents. More than 300 projects were submitted in the first intake of the program and proposals are currently being reviewed. The initial government investment will support 27 joint projects involving over 130 municipalities to conduct service delivery reviews aimed at finding efficiencies and lowering costs in the longer term.
These reviews will help municipalities work together to identify opportunities for shared services and other ways to modernize local services to ensure taxpayers dollars are being used effectively and efficiently. For example, the Municipality of Charlton and Dack and the Township of Chamberlain used previous modernization funding to consolidate their offices. They now share space, equipment and an IT server and rent out the unused Chamberlain office to create revenue.
Premier Doug Ford, ministers and parliamentary assistants joined hundreds of municipal officials at the annual ROMA conference to discuss shared priorities, including health care, infrastructure, and improving internet access and cell connectivity in rural communities. This year, government officials met with more than 350 delegations.
At the conference, Premier Ford also announced a new intake of the Rural Economic Development program to help create jobs and support economic growth in rural Ontario. The province also hosted a roundtable discussion with rural stakeholders on economic development in their regions – the first in a series to be held across rural Ontario.
“Ontario’s rural communities are an integral part of our province and make incredible contributions to our economy,” said Ernie Hardeman, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. “I’m proud our government is constantly striving to help rural Ontario succeed, including protecting farmland, improving broadband access and encouraging economic development.”
The government is also supporting small and rural municipalities by:
- Maintaining the funding envelope for the 2021 Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund at $500 million.
- Investing $200 million through the Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund to repair local roads, bridges, water and wastewater infrastructure.
- Releasing Connecting the Southwest: A Transportation Plan for Southwestern Ontario – our government’s plan to deliver an integrated transportation system for the region.
- Providing up to $130 million for new projects under the Natural Gas Expansion Program.
- Investing $175 million through the Health Infrastructure Renewal Fund to help repair and upgrade 131 hospitals across the province.
“Rural and northern municipal governments welcome additional provincial funding to invest in joint modernization efforts,” said Allan Thompson, ROMA Chair. “With limited staff and resources, these funds will go a long way to help make municipal services better and more efficient.”
Ontario is providing up to $125 million through 2022/23 through the Municipal Modernization Program to help small and rural municipalities lower costs and improve services.
Ontario is investing more than $480 million in rural, northern and public transit infrastructure projects under the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program. The province also nominated 350 rural, northern and public transit infrastructure projects to the federal government for funding.