Municipality sees jump in 2021 OCIF allotment over previous year

Bay of Quinte MPP Todd Smith. (Jason Parks/Gazette Staff)

JASON PARKS

STAFF WRITER

The provincial government  has announced a $16.9 investment in infrastructure throughout the Bay of Quinte by way of  the Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund (OCIF).

In total, the fund provides $16,951,102 to help build and repair local infrastructure in Prince Edward County, the City of Belleville and Quinte West. Todd Smith, MPP for Bay of Quinte said 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.

Through the Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund (OCIF), the County will receive $2,388,033 (compared to $1,147,499) while the City of Belleville will receive $7,032,052 for 2022 (compared to $3,232,839 in 2021) and the City of Quinte West will receive $7,531,017 (compared to $4,157,747) .

“Our municipal partners in Bay of Quinte need stable funding to address infrastructure renewal, particularly as they weather the challenges of this ongoing pandemic,” said Smith. “Our government is committed to building Ontario by making significant investments to ensure they can move forward with critical projects like upgraded roads, bridges, and water and wastewater systems.”

Today’s announcement is part of the government’s additional $1 billion investment to help build and repair roads, bridges, water and wastewater infrastructure in small, rural and northern communities. The multi-year funding bring Ontario’s total investment to nearly $2 billion over the next five years.

County of Prince Edward Mayor Steve Ferguson. (Jason Parks/Gazette Staff)

County of Prince Edward Mayor Steve Ferguson hinted some of the funds might be earmarked to wrangling the municipality’s water and wasterwater woes.

Renewing vital infrastructure is a key priority for Prince Edward County. We are encouraged that the Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund (OCIF) continues to be a source of stable of funding for these important projects,” Ferguson said. “With funds provided through OCIF, we look forward to undertaking work to improve our roadways as well as water and wastewater infrastructure in 2022.”

The Province’s investment in OCIF is part of the 2021 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review: Build Ontario.The plan lays out how the government will build Ontario’s future with shovels in the ground for highways, hospitals, long-term care, housing, and high-speed internet. To ensure all families, workers and businesses in the province have a better and brighter future, the government’s planned infrastructure investments over the next decade total more than $148 billion.

“Our small, rural and northern communities will be at the forefront of our efforts to build Ontario for the future,” said Premier Doug Ford. “With this investment, we are saying ‘yes’ to helping these communities build and repair the vital infrastructure they need to keep their communities working for decades to come.”

The funding allocations are based on a formula that recognizes the different needs and economic conditions of communities across the province. The new formula will include an increased funding minimum of $100,000 for all communities per year, up from $50,000 over previous years.

“Communities are the heartbeat of this province and we know they are facing unique infrastructure needs and challenges, especially as we navigate through the pandemic,” added Kinga Surma, Minister of Infrastructure. “Our government has been with them every step of the way. When we were told more funding supports were needed, we listened and acted in a meaningful way by providing the largest OCIF increase since the start of the program. By doing so, we’re providing stability and predictability to small, rural and northern communities to repair, upgrade, and modernize their critical infrastructure so that they are safer, healthier, and more reliable for all.”

The OCIF supports local infrastructure projects for communities with populations under 100,000, along with all rural and northern communities.For 2021, approximately $200 million in funding was allocated to 424 small, rural and northern communities. Municipalities may accumulate their funding for up to five years to address larger infrastructure projects.