Municipalities are considering how to access some of the $30 billion in new infrastructure funding coming down from the federal and provincial levels.

The intake for the first part of the funding was opened March 18, aimed at rural and northern communities to invest in road, bridge, air and marine infrastructure. The funding was initially announced by the province March 12 under the federal Investing in Canada Infrastructure program.

At a County of Haliburton Roads Committee meeting March 13, Minden Hills Mayor Brent Devolin said the county should explore projects for the funding.

“Think outside the box,” Devolin said. “If it’s a one-time windfall, from my perspective, I normally wouldn’t choose to debenture something like that. But I would certainly entertain it if the situation was right.”

The funding program is to be spread across 10 years, with cost sharing between all levels of government. The federal government is providing $11.8 billion, while the province will provide up to $10.2 billion. The current intake is open for eight weeks and is aimed at near-term projects, according to the grant application website.
Criteria include funding need, technical merit and how well the projects address current health and safety risks, such as road collisions.

Additional consideration will also be given to joint projects “providing benefit to multiple communities.”

“Our economy, communities and families all depend on infrastructure,” Minister of Infrastructure Monte McNaughton said in a press release. “The program will bring major infrastructure investments that people rely on.”

The new funding also earned discussion at the lower-tier council tables. In response to the announcement, Dysart et al deputy mayor Patrick Kennedy said at a March 14 budget meeting he wanted to put more towards reserves for projects that might qualify for the funding.

Minden CAO and treasurer Lorrie Blanchard said the program will likely be a shared funding formula as other infrastructure programs have been in the past.

“Zero requirements from the municipality? Absolutely not,” she told the March 14 Minden committee of the whole meeting.

For projects funded, the minimum cost share for municipalities under 5,000 will be 6.67 per cent in the first intake, which Highlands East and Algonquin Highlands fall under. Municipalities between 5,000 and 100,000 will have a minimum 16.67 per cent cost share, which would apply to Minden Hills, Dysart et al and the county.

“This is probably money we may not see like this for another decade,” Devolin told the roads committee. “Let’s investigate.”

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