Ontario Building Strong Rural Communities
TORONTO — The Ontario government is building strong rural communities with investments that will help to accelerate the creation of new housing, support modern and efficient public infrastructure and boost economic development. The funding was announced during the 2022 Rural Ontario Municipal Association (ROMA) Conference and will help to support families, small businesses and create local jobs – all of which are critical to building a strong economic recovery for rural Ontario.
“Rural and Northern communities are the backbone of Ontario and key to the province’s economy,” said Premier Doug Ford. “Our government will continue working with ROMA and its members to protect the progress we’ve made against COVID-19 and lay the groundwork for strong, thriving communities in every corner of the province.”
Ontario is providing over $28 million to support 322 projects through the Municipal Modernization Program to help small and rural municipalities find better, more efficient ways to deliver local services for residents and businesses. Municipalities can use the funding to conduct reviews of local services and administrative operations to find efficiencies, including accelerating the creation of new housing through streamlined development approvals and working with neighbouring municipalities to share services.
“Since day one, our government has been working with our rural municipal partners to address local priorities, seize opportunities and help empower communities to reach their full potential,” said Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “Together, we will keep our communities safe and ensure that rural municipalities have the support they need to build more homes faster, attract business and investment and create jobs.”
Premier Doug Ford, Ministers, Associate Ministers and Parliamentary Assistants held virtual meetings with hundreds of municipal officials during the ROMA conference, which took place from January 23 – 25, 2022. They discussed key priorities for rural municipalities, including economic growth, public health, resource development, increasing housing supply, supports for the province’s most vulnerable and working across all levels of government to keep communities safe, as Ontario continues to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our government remains committed to supporting and protecting the people who work and live in rural Ontario,” said Kinga Surma, Minister of Infrastructure. “That is why we are investing $1 billion over the next five years, through the Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund, to help build and repair local roads, bridges, water and wastewater infrastructure. We’re making sure small, rural and northern communities have the resources they need to build stronger, healthier and more resilient communities.”
Through a new targeted intake of the Rural Economic Development (RED) program, Ontario is also helping local communities to attract and retain workers, create new jobs and help support families and businesses affected by COVID-19. Municipalities, not-for-profit organizations, Indigenous communities and local service boards can make application for funding beginning February 7, 2022 until March 7, 2022.
The province also continues to work with rural municipalities to make it easier for hardworking Ontarians and their families to find a home that meets their needs and budget. On January 23, 2022, Premier Ford and Minister Clark hosted a roundtable with rural, remote and northern municipalities to discuss the unique housing opportunities and challenges that these communities face and what additional supports the province could provide to help build more housing.
“Rural municipalities have many challenges specific to them which requires a collaborative approach between all levels of government, private businesses and non-profit organizations, as well as individuals, to find the best possible solutions,” said Jim McDonell, MPP for Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry. “This annual conference provides an opportunity to ensure the government is aware of the issues and that we continue to work together toward the same goal of helping Ontarians recover from the pandemic, and we plan for the future.”
“Rural communities are key to the economic and social vitality of our province,” said Robin Jones, Chair, Rural Ontario Municipal Association. The ROMA conference is an important opportunity for provincial and municipal leaders to discuss and collaborate on rural priorities. We thank the Premier and Cabinet Ministers for taking part. We appreciated that they listened to rural Ontario’s goals and aspirations, as we seek a path to recovery and growth after the pandemic.”
- The RED program supports projects that help to attract business and investment in rural and Indigenous communities, while providing greater value for taxpayer dollars. The Government of Ontario has committed more than $15.2 million to fund more than 287 economic development projects through the RED program since 2019.
- The Ontario government is providing $375.6 million to help 107 municipalities across the province operate and improve local transit. The funding is being delivered through the Gas Tax program and can be used to extend service hours, buy transit vehicles, add routes, improve accessibility or upgrade infrastructure.
- Ontario has provided $92 million in operating and capital grants through the Ontario Trillium Foundation’s Community Building Fund to support 834 community organizations, municipalities, Indigenous communities and non-profit tourism, culture, sport and recreation organizations across the province – enhancing quality of life and supporting local jobs.
- Ontario is providing an additional $1 billion over the next five years to help build and repair local roads, bridges, water and wastewater infrastructure in small, rural and northern communities. This investment is part of the government’s plan to build Ontario by getting shovels in the ground on critical infrastructure projects that support economic recovery, growth and job creation.
- The Ontario government is providing nearly $4 billion to bring access to reliable high-speed internet for every community across the province by the end of 2025.
- During the 2022 ROMA conference, more than 285 delegation meetings were held with rural municipalities and municipal organizations.