05/06/2004

OWEN SOUND (Ontario), May 6, 2004 – The Governments of Canada and Ontario today announced the signing of a Letter of Intent that will lead to increased funding for public infrastructure in small urban centres and rural municipalities.
Ontario is the first province to partner with the federal government in this program to fund municipal rural infrastructure. The investments will be made through the Canada-Ontario Municipal Rural Infrastructure Fund (COMRIF).

The investments will help small towns and rural communities comply with drinking water standards, improve sewage treatment and waste management, fix local roads and repair bridges, as well as help address other health and safety priorities.  

Today, the signing of a second Letter of Intent pledges the Governments of Canada and Ontario to work closely with the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) to implement the program and ensure it meets local priorities and needs. Together, they intend to finalize a protocol with the association that would outline its role and responsibility in the future delivery of the program.  

The federal government is committing $298 million over five years to infrastructure projects in small towns and rural municipalities in Ontario. Investments from the Government of Ontario and the municipalities participating in the program are each expected to match that amount. The federal, provincial and municipal governments should then provide approximately $900 million. 

“The fund supports infrastructure projects that Ontario communities identify as key priorities. The signing of these Letters of Intent marks an important ‘first’ in a series of agreements that the Government of Canada is advancing with each province and territory,” said the Honourable Joe Volpe, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development.

“A strong Ontario depends on strong communities, including our smaller cities and rural communities. This program demonstrates our commitment to deliver real, positive change that will improve quality of life for all Ontarians,” said the Honourable David Caplan, Minister of Public Infrastructure Renewal. “This is a major step forward in building strong communities with a quality of life that is second to none.” 
“I am especially pleased that our governments have agreed to work in collaboration with the Association of Municipalities of Ontario to help address municipalities’ needs,” said the Honourable Joe Comuzzi, Minister of State (Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario) and Minister responsible for the Canada-Ontario Infrastructure Program. 
“These Letters of Intent demonstrate the Government of Ontario’s commitment to help communities grow stronger, and become more sustainable, clean and livable,” added the Honourable John Gerretsen, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “This marks a new era of cooperation where all three levels of government are working together for the benefit of all Ontarians.”
“We share a common goal in renewing our communities and today is the beginning of a new era in making this a reality,” said Ann Mulvale, President, Association of Municipalities of Ontario. “Bringing the municipal perspective to the design and implementation of this program is fundamental to its success and we look forward to completing the work.”

The Letters of Intent formalize an agreement between the federal and provincial governments and AMO to:

  • develop a framework to guide project selection to maximize public benefits, especially with respect to environmental issues; 
  • design a faster and simpler application process for municipalities; 
  • create a joint secretariat to review and evaluate project applications; 
  • establish a target for green infrastructure to protect the environment and improve public health and safety. 
Through the Municipal Rural Infrastructure Fund (MRIF), 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 Canada Strategic Infrastructure Fund, which addresses larger infrastructure needs, primarily in urban areas.

The Letters of Intent, and ultimately the Canada-Ontario Municipal Rural Infrastructure Fund, will advance Ontario’s commitment to building strong communities and a safe, healthy and prosperous province. 

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