Ontario is providing small, rural and northern municipalities with expanded access to predictable, stable, annual funding to build and repair roads, bridges, water and wastewater infrastructure.
Premier Kathleen Wynne announced the expansion of the Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund (OCIF) and the Connecting Links program today at the Ontario Good Roads Association / Rural Ontario Municipal Association Combined Conference.
Reflecting consultation feedback and the progress municipalities have made on their asset management plans, the OCIF will triple from $100 million to $300 million per year by 2018-19, with $200 million in predictable, formula-based funding and $100 million in application-based funding, allowing smaller municipalities to apply to invest in critical infrastructure projects. These investments will create jobs and support local economic growth across the province.
Premier Wynne also announced increased funding for Ontario's Connecting Links program. Connecting Links will provide $20 million in 2016 -17, up from $15 million announced in the 2015 Budget, to help municipalities pay for the construction and repair costs for designated connecting links -- municipal roads that connect two ends of a provincial highway through a community or to a border crossing. Funding for this program will increase to $30 million per year by 2018 -19.
In addition, the Premier announced that by the end of 2016, the province will be launching an interest-free loan program to help more communities access natural gas.
These programs are part of Moving Ontario Forward, Ontario's 10-year, $31.5-billion plan to build modern transportation and infrastructure networks that create jobs and growth across the province. Ontario is making the largest infrastructure investment in the province's history -- more than $134 billion over 10 years, which is making 110,000 jobs possible every year across the province, with projects such as roads, bridges, transit systems, schools and hospitals.
Expanding and improving infrastructure for Ontario's small, rural and northern municipalities is part of the government's plan to build Ontario up and deliver on its number-one priority to grow the economy and create jobs. The four-part plan includes investing in people's talents and skills, making the largest investment in public infrastructure in Ontario's history, creating a dynamic, supportive environment where business thrives, and building a secure retirement savings plan.