Brock Township eyes provincial downtown revitalization program

After attending the a province-wide conference in Toronto, members of Brock Township council are eager to learn more about potential funding for downtown revitalization.

Details remain scarce but while at the Rural Ontario Municipal Association conference, Jeff Leal, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, who is also the Minister Responsible for Small Business, announced the funding for downtown areas and main streets across the province.

“Main streets are at the core of small, rural communities and are home to thousands of small businesses across the province,” said the Minister.

“That’s why our government is committed to ensuring they continue to remain vibrant hubs where residents meet, tourists visit and small businesses grow and prosper.”

During a committee meeting Monday (Jan. 29), Mayor John Grant and Township Clerk and CAO Thom Gettinby noted they look forward to learning more.

As it stands, Gettinby says he understands the funds would be available for rural municipalities to undertake physical improvements in main street or downtown areas. The funds could be used as physical enhancements to the downtown area or as part of a community improvement plan financial incentives.

“To date, we haven’t received the details about how the program is going to work. We don’t know exactly when the money is going to flow,” said Gettinby.

According to the province, vibrant main streets help attract visitors, create jobs and increase the competitiveness of small businesses.

“That’s why the province is helping municipalities enhance and revitalize their downtown and main streets through improvements such as the installation of pedestrian crosswalks or landscaping. Municipalities can also direct funding to local businesses to improve the appearance of their storefronts by installing lighting or new signage,” reads a release from the province.

Ontario is investing as much as $26 million in the Main Street Revitalization Initiative, through the Association of Municipalities and the Rural Ontario Municipal Association. The initiative is part of a $40-million investment over three years and, according to the province, expands on and complements the Downtown Revitalization Program, supporting main street revitalization in rural areas.

Funding is expected to be allocated to municipalities based on population, using data from the 2016 census. The formula includes an adjustment for municipalities with fewer than 25,000 residents, such as Brock.

“This adjustment ensures that small communities are provided an appropriate level of funding where their population figures would otherwise limit their respective funding allocations within the parameters of the program,” reads the provincial release.

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