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Holland highlights infrastructure funding

MPP Kevin Holland held a press conference to highlight municipal infrastructure funding the Ford government announced in 2021.
MPP Kevin Holland highlights municipal infrastructure funding in a press conference at his office on Thursday, Dec. 14, 2023.

THUNDER BAY – MPP Kevin Holland held a press conference on Thursday highlighting an increase to provincial funding for municipal infrastructure first announced in 2021.

The Ford government doubled municipal funding through the Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund (OCIF) starting in 2022, committing to maintain that level of funding for five years.

Holland highlighted that investment in what was billed as a “funding announcement” at his James Street office on Thursday.

“I'm really encouraged by this funding and I think it's really important to highlight the investments that are being made across all of Northwestern Ontario,” he said. “This just gives them another opportunity to address those pressing infrastructure needs in their communities… so they're not as much falling back on the municipal taxpayer.”

Municipal leaders across the province have consistently argued they need much more funding from the province to address massive spending shortfalls that have left infrastructure like roads, bridges, and pipes in some cases literally crumbling.

City manager Norm Gale, for example, has called the current provincial funding formula “broken,” saying cities need a new deal to recognize soaring emergency services costs, infrastructure deficits, and other issues.

City of Thunder Bay staff have estimated the municipality currently falls short of meeting its infrastructure needs, including maintenance and planning for future replacements, by a whopping $30 million or more per year.

The city will receive $10 million through the OCIF in 2024, as it did the previous two years.

On Thursday, however, Mayor Ken Boshcoff focused on what he called the city’s gratitude for the doubling of the OCIF two years earlier.

“We're always grateful for almost any amount, and certainly when you get into eight figures of assistance, then we're deeply grateful,” he said. “It will allow us to expand those subdivisions and that infrastructure that we haven't really paid much attention to over the last little while.”

“If the rest of my council aren't as grateful as I am, I'll be pretty harsh with them,” he later added.

Asked about the ongoing shortfalls in municipal infrastructure spending, Holland said that’s partly due to underfunding by past provincial governments, while suggesting municipalities themselves also must tighten their belts to address the issue.

“We've doubled the funding for five years [starting in 2022] to start addressing some of that funding gap,” he said. “All of the infrastructure needs aren't a responsibility of the provincial government, but at the end of this five-year process, we’ll see where we're at [and] review the program.”

“If there are the needs, I'm absolutely happy to bring those needs forward,” Holland added.

The OCIF provides funding for local infrastructure projects in rural and northern communities, and other municipalities with populations under 100,000. Eligible municipalities receive a minimum of $100,000.

Aside from the $10 million allocated to Thunder Bay, the province will provide the following amounts to other northwestern municipalities in 2024:

  • Atikokan: $510,754
  • Conmee: $100,000
  • Gillies: $100,000
  • Neebing: $379,172
  • O’Connor: $100,000
  • Oliver Paipoonge: $562,301
  • Dorion Township: $132,250
  • Greenstone: $887,959
  • Marathon: $264,929
  • Nipigon: $156,586
  • Red Rock: $132,250
  • Schreiber: $170,542
  • Shuniah: $100,000
  • Terrace Bay: $328,347
  • Armstrong Local Services Board: $100,000
  • Rossport Local Services Board: $100,000

Municipalities can accumulate the OCIF funding for up to five years for use toward larger infrastructure projects.

Ian Kaufman

About the Author: Ian Kaufman

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