In the last two years alone, Ontario municipalities have promoted the local benefits of over forty projects enabled by the federal Gas Tax Fund. While this is a good start, the vast majority of projects receive little or no fanfare.  All municipalities have an interest in promoting this program, its benefits and their local investments, more often. The Gas Tax Fund is the only long-term, stable and predictable source of federal infrastructure funding for Ontario municipalities.

Importantly, the Fund’s flexibility allows municipalities to invest in local priorities, without having to submit applications. In fact, the Gas Tax Agreement that AMO has with the federal government is one of the only direct federal/municipal relationships in Canada. From a municipal perspective it is efficient and effective. In return, we have to ensure that it is transparent and accountable. Communicating the benefits of the Gas Tax Fund in Ontario sends a clear message to the federal and provincial government that the program’s design and investments are vital to our communities. Since 2005, municipalities across Ontario have invested $1.6 billion in Gas Tax funds toward more than 3,100 projects.

Strictly speaking, promotion of the Gas Tax Fund is a municipal responsibility as outlined in Schedule F of the Municipal Funding Agreement. Municipalities are required to have signage on-site during construction and permanent signage after completion. In addition, municipalities are expected to use events such as groundbreakings or official openings to promote the projects when possible.

AMO provides a number of resources to help make this easy.  Our municipal communications toolkit can help you draft news releases and event itineraries, and we can help facilitate planning and approvals with the Federal Government.
 
Gas Tax promotion can be as simple or elaborate as you want to make it. Successful approaches have included:
  • Formal events, such as groundbreakings, ribbon cuttings or a community gatherings.   
  • A strong photo opportunity involving municipal, federal, and if appropriate, provincial representatives. A guide to better photo opportunities is available online.  
  • A news release shared online via traditional wire services, your municipality’s website and by Infrastructure Canada.
  • If you live in a single-newspaper community, simply inviting your local MP and a reporter to tour your Gas Tax funded project can attract excellent media coverage.
  • Sharing your project through your community’s Twitter account or Facebook page.
  • You can follow us on Twitter at @GasTaxinOntario .
  • When sharing your project online, you can direct readers to www.gastaxatwork.ca. AMO updates this site to include all Gas Tax funded projects in Ontario, searchable by postal code or community name.
  • Submit your photos to gastax@amo.on.ca to be included in our Annual Reports.
Promoting municipal projects does not have to be onerous. For example, the Township of Minden Hills held a Canada Day event which promoted their Gas Tax funded riverwalk, while the Municipality of Huron East got news coverage by inviting their local MP to a council meeting to promote Gas Tax funded bridge work.

If you’re thinking of planning an event or writing a media release to promote Gas Tax investment in your community, be sure to contact AMO as soon as possible and let us know. Under the terms of the Gas Tax Agreement, the federal government should be informed at least 21 days prior to the promotional event.  In addition to coordinating approval with the federal government, AMO may want to feature your project in our Annual Expenditure Report published at the end of September.

The Gas Tax Fund plays an important role in reducing the infrastructure deficit while contributing to municipal and community sustainability. It also puts Ontarians to work. Let us make sure that everyone, including the public and the federal and provincial governments, know how the Gas Tax Fund is at work to improve our communities.

Follow @GasTaxinOntario on Twitter to learn more.