Ontario is rolling out a new public transit funding stream for municipalities outside the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area.
In Peterborough on Tuesday morning, infrastructure minister Monte McNaughton announced the first intake of the public transit stream of the 10-year infrastructure program will unlock up to $1.62 billion in joint provincial and federal funding under the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP).
The funding will be eligible for 85 municipalities outside the GTHA who can submit nominations for their most critical transit projects, McNaughton said.
“This funding will make commutes shorter and allow working men and women to get home to their families faster,” McNaughton said to an audience at the Peterborough Transit depot.
“That really matters to people. I know because I’m a commuter, too.”
WATCH: McNaughton announces public transit stream for municipalities outside GTA
ICIP is a $30 billion, 10-year infrastructure program cost-shared between federal, provincial and municipal governments. Ontario’s share per project will be up to 33.33 per cent or $10.2 billion spread across four streams: Rural and northern; public transit; green and community, culture and recreation.
“Our government’s investment will make public transit infrastructure better, safer, and more accessible,” he said.
The application for the rural and northern streams is open until May 14. Funding is allocated based on a municipality’s share of total transit ridership in Ontario as per the 2015 Canadian Urban Transit Association Fact Book, McNaughton noted.
The City of Peterborough, for example, will be eligible to apply for nearly $26 million for transit projects, McNaughton said.
Peterborough’s transit system averages just under five-million trips per year.
“This funding is going to go a long way to moving people around the city,” said Mayor Diane Therrien. “We look forward to applying to this.”
Peterborough County Warden J. Murray Jones says the funding is essential for rural municipalities.
“It strikes the heartbeat of the county, city and everyday people,” he said. “It’s about getting here, there, everywhere and it’s increasingly difficult for municipalities to do that on their own, which is why we need help.”
Intakes for municipalities inside the GTHA and other streams will launch later this year.
“Our government is listening and has heard the infrastructure needs of our municipalities,” McNaughton said. “We are committed to cutting red tape for local governments and funding local infrastructure priorities in the province while putting Ontario back on a path to balance so that we can protect our hospitals, schools and other vital public services.”
More to come.