Eastern Ontario Wardens’ Caucus Releases Infrastructure Policy Paper

In City Hall

The Eastern Ontario Wardens’ Caucus (EOWC), under its strategic priority of infrastructure, has released the 2024 Municipal Infrastructure Policy Paper. This paper covers key infrastructure data and recommendations from across the region. The information will support Eastern Ontario’s municipal policy and program advocacy, applications for government funding, and future partnerships around infrastructure that will help enable the region’s prosperity and housing for all. Additionally, the paper will shape the advocacy initiatives as part of the infrastructure priority in the EOWC’s 2024-2027 Strategic Plan.

The EOWC recognizes that as the region continues to grow, the demand for essential municipal services also increases. However, maintaining and expanding infrastructure falls on a relatively small and widely dispersed population, creating a growing deficit and an impossible challenge for local municipalities and ratepayers.

“Investing in infrastructure is not just about building roads and bridges; it’s about laying the foundation for economic growth and ensuring a high quality of life for all people across Eastern Ontario,” says EOWC Chair Peter Emon. “Our Municipal Infrastructure Policy Paper provides a path forward on how strategic infrastructure partnerships and investment in rural and small urban communities can make a significant difference. We cannot do it alone and we look forward to finding solutions with our Ontario and Federal Government partners to address the growing infrastructure deficit to support our region’s growing communities.”

As part of our research findings, we have identified five key messages:

1. Rural and small urban Eastern Ontario is a growing economy that can grow more with infrastructure investment.

2. Rural Eastern Ontario communities are major exporters to Ontario and other jurisdictions.

3. There is an upfront cost to growth, creating a burden for smaller rural communities.

4. Small, rural municipalities lack the tax base to sustain infrastructure investment and asset management.

5. Innovation is key to cost-effective infrastructure management.

The EOWC requests that the Federal Government and the Ontario Government partner with municipalities to address the growing infrastructure deficit by:

1. Ensuring eligibility for programs and funding fits both rural and small urban circumstances.

2. Providing predictable, non-competitive, permanent infrastructure funding streams, as federal and provincial funding programs are often unpredictable and irregular in their timing.

3. Taking an integrated approach to infrastructure investments, considering the return on investment that is shared by communities and the Province, as investing in housing goes hand-in-hand with investing in institutional, commercial, or industrial (ICI) land uses.

4. Reevaluating debt financing options for small municipalities with limited resources to raise funds, ensuring that funds are directed towards infrastructure development rather than servicing debt interest. Specific considerations should include higher upfront/advance contributions as well as the contribution to GDP of “local” investments to provincial priorities.

5. Working with the provincial Financial Accountability Office to ensure that missing/incomplete data that would make their infrastructure reports more robust is provided, that the evolution in asset management plans is reflected in both municipal and FAO work, and that the FAO and the EOWC compare their methodologies for estimating infrastructure deficits/backlogs.

About the EOWC
The EOWC Inc. is a non-profit organization advocating for 103 small urban and rural municipalities across Eastern Ontario. The EOWC covers an area of 50,000 square kilometres, serving 800,000 residents. For more than 20 years, the EOWC has gained support and momentum by speaking with a united voice to champion regional municipal priorities and work with the government, businesses, non-profit organizations, Indigenous leaders, the media, and the public.

Notes:
Read more about the EOWC’s Infrastructure Policy Paper, view our Key Takeaways and Recommendations, or download your copy at EOWC.org.

Pete Fisher
Author: Pete Fisher

Has been a photojournalist for over 30-years and have been honoured to win numerous awards for photography and writing over the years. Best selling author for the book Highway of Heroes - True Patriot Love

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