Infrastructure relief coming to rural Ontario: McNaughton
Ontario’s Minister of InfrastructureMonteMcNaughton returned to his rural Ontario roots in Newbury Friday to announce the province’s plan for infrastructure in rural Ontario.
Over three years, the Ontario government will shell out $2.1 million to help smaller municipalities — those with populations of 25,000 or less — develop asset-management plans for maintaining roads and bridges. That will mean sending experts to places like Newbury and municpalities with smaller populations and mounting infrastructure bills.
Diane Brewer, the reeve of Newbury and McNaughton’s aunt, introduced the Progressive Conservative MPP.
“He has always remembered where he came from. In that respect, he’s always helped the village of Newbury,” Brewer said.
This new announcement will help smaller municipal governments in Ontario get their future spending in order, McNaughton said.
“This is about sending teams out to those smaller municipalities who need to get their assetmanagement plans in place,” McNaughton said. “We’re sending help out free of charge.”
The government will start with 58 of the 250 small municipalities that qualify for assistance. Other larger municipalities, like nearby Chatham-Kent, already have assetmanagement plans to handle their infrastructure concerns.
Many smaller municipalities are not able to invest in a proper asset-management plan. That’s where the government’s help will come in.
“This is about making the right infrastructure investments at the right time in the right place,” McNaughton said. “Having a sound asset-management plan helps us ensure that we’re spending taxpayer dollars wisely.”
A number of smaller mayors were at the Newbury announcement Friday, including BrookeAlvinston Mayor David Ferguson and Warwick Township Mayor Jackie Rombouts.
“It is encouraging. It’s a good start,” Ferguson said. “Now that we have (funding for an asset-management plan), we have to be able to be able to use it.”
“We’re on the map again,” Rombouts added.
The asset-management help comes on the heels of another McNaughton announcement in which he and Agriculture Minister Ernie Hardeman promised natural gas to 80 communities and roughly 35,000 houses in rural Ontario.
Also expected in early 2019 is a broadband plan for rural and northern Ontario. McNaughton would not release details from the upcoming plan but told his old town to keep an eye out for an announcement over the next few months.
“I know how desperate smalltown and northern Ontario is for broadband,” he said after the meeting. “We’re looking forward to announcing that.”
Minster of Infrastructure Monte McNaughton stands in Newbury, where the Progressive Conservative MPP grew up and got his start in politics. Friday McNaughton announced rural municipalities would be getting help from the government on infrastructure – meaning roads, bridges, and broadband internet.