The Ontario government is offering up $51 million to help municipalities tackle important infrastructure projects and upgrades.
The provincial government is now accepting applications from municipalities for a share of the funds, Ontario Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Bob Chiarelli said during an announcement in Brantford on Thursday.
"The priority for this funding is for health and safety related infrastructure," Chiarelli said. "That includes bridges in need of repair, sewer and water projects, facilities and roads."
Chiarelli made the announcement alongside Brantford Mayor Chris Friel, County of Brant Mayor Ron Eddy, Brant MPP Dave Levac and other municipal officials prior to a tour of the Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre.
"The funding is open for anyone to apply, but is of more interest to small and medium-sized municipalities," Chiarelli said.
The available money is geared toward smaller jurisdictions, with a $2 million limit for each project.
Chiarelli said the funds will help improve the quality of life of Ontario families.
"Every single dollar invested in infrastructure is an investment in quality of life," Chiarelli said. "Since the recession hit, infrastructure has been a lifeline for Ontario families."
Chiarelli said the $51 million fund is just "a downpayment" and that the Ontario government expects to add more money to its pot of infrastructure funding in the near future.
"Our government has made unprecedented investments in infrastructure across the province," Chiarelli said. "We are listening to our municipal partners and taking significant action to invest in their most critical infrastructure projects while assisting them with infrastructure planning over the long-term."
Chiarelli said the County of Brant will receive about $33,000 to help the predominantly rural municipality design and implement an asset management plan to prioritize its infrastructure needs.
"This will help us know the exact costs, establish priorities and plan to look after those priorities," Eddy said. "We have been doing bridge repairs every year on former provincial highways since they were turned over to us (in the 1990s)."
Brantford currently has an asset management plan in place.
"As a larger municipality, we know the likelihood of us getting a kick at this (funding) is not great," Friel said. "But as our neighbours get stronger, our whole area benefits."
Levac said the funding allocation will save the province money down the road.
"If we don't change the way we're doing our infrastructure, we would be back in the same place we started in 20 years," Levac said. "We are going to save billions in the long-run."