2024 Provincial Budget: Big on Capital, Short on Maintenance

Topic: News
Published: March 2024

Good Roads is pleased to provide its members with key highlights of the Government of Ontario’s 2024 Budget. Below, we outline important developments that directly impact member municipalities:

  1. Infrastructure Investment Focus: The provincial government has allocated significant funding towards new infrastructure projects, including a $1 billion municipal infrastructure fund aimed at supporting home construction. Additionally, over $600 million has been earmarked for water and wastewater infrastructure upgrades. This was announced in the lead up to the budget.
  2. Community Sport and Recreation Fund: A new $200 million fund has been established to support the creation and upgrading of community sport and recreation infrastructure. No details have been announced on program design, but its likely municipalities would need to apply for such funding.
  3. Property Tax Relief for Rental Apartments: Municipalities will now have the ability to charge up to 35 per cent lower property tax rates on new purpose-built rental apartments. While this initiative aims to stimulate the construction of rental housing, it’s essential to note that it falls short of addressing broader funding concerns raised by municipalities in light of Bill 23.
  4. Ontario Transit Investment Fund: The launch of the Ontario Transit Investment Fund, with an annual allocation of $5 million, is aimed at delivering local and intercommunity transportation projects in underserved areas, particularly in rural regions. This initiative essentially makes the Community Transportation Grant Program permanent.
  5. Building Ontario Fund: The establishment of Ontario’s new infrastructure bank, the Building Ontario Fund, is noteworthy. With an initial allocation of $3 billion, the fund aims to support critical infrastructure projects and attract private capital to meet the growing needs of the province. It also explores opportunities to support large-scale municipal infrastructure projects.

While these initiatives represent positive steps towards addressing critical infrastructure needs and supporting community development, it’s important to highlight some areas of concern:

  • Lack of Investment in Rural Road Safety: Despite some positive initiatives, the budget overlooks the pressing issue of rural road safety. Good Roads’ advocacy for improved rural road infrastructure and safety measures has not received adequate attention in this budget. Rural communities face unique challenges concerning road safety, and without sufficient investment, these issues may persist, posing risks to all road users.
  • Maintenance Funding Gap: The budget lacks sufficient funding for maintaining existing infrastructure, posing challenges for municipalities grappling with aging infrastructure systems. Sustainable funding for maintenance and rehabilitation remains a pressing issue that requires attention.
  • Comprehensive Funding Solutions Needed: While targeted investments are welcomed, a comprehensive approach to municipal funding is necessary to address the diverse needs of municipalities effectively. Sustainable funding models are essential for ensuring the long-term viability and resilience of our communities.

As advocates for municipal transportation and infrastructure, it’s imperative to continue engaging with policymakers to address these concerns and advocate for the needs of our municipalities. We encourage all members to stay informed and actively participate in discussions surrounding municipal transportation and infrastructure.