For Immediate Release — November 15, 2004
PETERBOROUGH (Ontario) — All Ontario municipalities of less than 250,000 people can now apply to the Canada-Ontario Municipal Rural Infrastructure Fund (COMRIF) to improve their public infrastructure. The Governments of Canada and Ontario today signed an agreement to each provide up to $298 million over the next five years to improve public infrastructure in small urban and rural municipalities throughout the province.
Participating communities will be expected to contribute one third of the cost of any project, bringing the total investment in sustainable infrastructure up to $900 million.
The investments will help communities improve water and sewage treatment and waste management, fix local roads and repair bridges, as well as help address other health and safety priorities. Other funding categories include: public transit, municipal energy improvement, cultural, recreational and tourism infrastructure, and connectivity.
The agreement provides that the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) will work with the Governments of Canada and Ontario to ensure the program offers maximum benefits to Ontario communities and will continue to promote increased awareness of the program.
Up to 1% of the fund will be available to help municipalities improve and increase their capacity to manage their infrastructure assets. This funding could be used, for example, to help communities enhance knowledge of their existing infrastructure assets, better evaluate life-cycle costs associated with the infrastructure they own and operate, better assess the capacity of current infrastructure and identify future needs, better plan and make infrastructure funding decisions, and better train municipal staff in long-term infrastructure management. This is a novel approach to better managing infrastructure that was agreed to during the negotiation of this agreement.
"The fund supports infrastructure projects that Ontario communities identify as key priorities. The signing of this agreement marks an important 'first' in a series of agreements that the Government of Canada is advancing with each province and territory," said John Godfrey, Minister of State (Infrastructure and Communities). "Today's agreement is an integral part of the 'New Deal for Cities and Communities' at work here in Ontario building sustainable communities. It shows an advanced partnership model while providing communities with long-term predictable funding."
"This program is great news for building strong and sustainable small towns and rural communities," said David Caplan, Ontario's Minister of Public Infrastructure Renewal. "The funding will help revitalize and restore local infrastructure and provide a quality of life that is second to none."
"This agreement makes it clear that governments can work effectively together to provide Canadians with real benefits. We welcome the participation of AMO in this partnership, to ensure that Ontario's small urban and rural municipalities have a voice in the design and delivery of this program," said Joe Comuzzi, Minister of State (Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario) and federal minister responsible for the implementation of COMRIF. "COMRIF's strong emphasis on 'green' projects will also support federal objectives in areas like water quality, and make a real difference in improving the quality of life for citizens across the province."
"An efficient and modern infrastructure is crucial to building a strong economy in our small and rural communities," added John Gerretsen, Ontario's Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. "By signing this agreement today, we are taking an important step towards achieving a more prosperous economy."
"AMO is working with the Federal and Provincial governments to ensure all Ontario residents benefit from a new deal for Ontario municipalities," said Roger Anderson, President, Association of Municipalities of Ontario. "The COMRIF infrastructure program recognizes that all Ontarians need and deserve increased investment in the success of their communities."
The signatories to the agreement also launched www.comrif.ca, a website where interested communities will find program information and be able to apply on-line for funding. Communities will also be able to apply with a CD ROM-based application or a paper application. Applications will be processed through a COMRIF Joint Secretariat, which has been established to streamline program delivery.
COMRIF is part of the Municipal Rural Infrastructure Fund (MRIF), through which the Government of Canada will invest $1 billion in priority infrastructure projects across Canada. The MRIF builds on the success and lessons learned from previous programs, especially the $2.05 billion Infrastructure Canada Program and complements programs such as the $4-billion Canada Strategic Infrastructure Fund, which addresses larger infrastructure needs, primarily in urban areas. Ontario's communities and regions have benefited from many infrastructure projects funded through these programs.
COMRIF will advance Ontario's commitment to building strong communities and a safe, healthy and prosperous province.
For more information, contact:
Office of the Minister of State
(Infrastructure and Communities)
Office of the Minister
Ontario Ministry of Public Infrastructure Renewal
Office of the Minister of State
Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing
Association of Municipalities of Ontario