Ontario investing $9.6M in infrastructure projects across Niagara

Ontario investing $9.6M in infrastructure projects across Niagara

Underground infrastructure requirements for the new Niagara Falls hospital could benefit from the $3.3 million the province recently announced the City of Niagara Falls will receive to address capital needs in the community.

“One project that comes to mind that the city can look at using the OCIF (Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund) funds for is the underground infrastructure requirements for the new south Niagara hospital, which the city would look to include in the 2022 capital budget,” said finance director Tiffany Clark.

Niagara West Progressive Conservative MPP Sam Oosterhoff recently announced Niagara Falls will receive $3,370,443 of $9.6 million in provincial funding for infrastructure projects across the region.

The allocation through the Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund is part of $200 million that this year will go towards 424 municipalities across the province with populations under 100,000, along with all rural and northern communities.

The funding is designated for core infrastructure projects, including building and repairing roads, bridges, and water and wastewater infrastructure, as well as asset management planning needs.

Municipalities may accumulate their funding for up to five years to address larger infrastructure projects.

Clark said the funding announcement was unexpected as the city had not received any word, nor had its contacts at the province advised local officials whether the OCIF program would continue in the 2020-21 year.

“In that regard, it’s a welcome surprise,” she said.

Clark said OCIF is formula-based funding, as opposed to application based.

She said the province uses an infrastructure index to proportion grant funding to ensure it’s linked to the municipality’s economic conditions, and core infrastructure.

The index is composed of two indicators which the province averages to calculate the municipality’s index — the ratio of core infrastructure to weighted property assessment, and the ratio of core infrastructure per household to median household income.

Clark said the city is “very appreciative” to receive $3.3 million.

“This recently announced funding quite nicely supplements the ongoing tax and rate-supported contributions from residents and businesses, which are vital in keeping our roads, bridges, and water/wastewater infrastructure in a state of good repair.”

Unclear if the program would continue into 2021, city officials took a “conservative approach” and did not plan to spend any potential OCIF allocations in the 2021 capital budget, she said.

“Given the uncertainty of what the 2022 capital budget funding will look like, particularly in the likely absence of (casino-hosting) funding, staff intend to hold this funding until the 2022 capital budget process, which will begin in the summer and allocate it at that time.”

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