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Ontario invests in rural municipalities

The funding will go toward 130 rural municipalities to conduct a review of municipal services and 'find efficiencies.'

January 27, 2020  By Fruit and Vegetable

The Ontario government will fund 27 joint projects through the Municipal Modernization Program, announced Steve Clark, minister of municipal affairs and housing at the 2020 Rural Ontario Municipal Association (ROMA) conference held on Jan. 21, 2020.

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.

The Government says that these reviews will help municipalities work together and identify opportunities for shared services. 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.”

Overall, 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. Transportation is a big focus and the provincial government is investing more than $480 million for rural, northern and public transit infrastructure projects under the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program.

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