HEATHER BOA Bullet News BLUEWATER – The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs is granting nearly $7.5 million in funding to the Municipality of Bluewater for a shopping list of projects that are meant to stimulate its economy.
The one-time economic development funding will be matched by about $2.8 million from the municipality.
Projects include: road upgrades and storm water management study, a contract economic development officer, Stanley landfill above-grade expansion, Hensall sewage lagoon upgrades, Bayfield public library and public washrooms, and Zurich public library project.
“The government is pleased to make this important investment in the Municipality of Bluewater. This is great news for the community” said Mark Cripps, who is press secretary to Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Ted McMeekin.
Bill Dowson, who is the mayor of Bluewater, said there was a range of options for investment, but they settled on projects to improve infrastructure.
“The choice was made to spend it to stop taxes from going up. Everything we’re going to do had to be done someday and it was going to affect the budget and the taxes,” he said.
Stephen McAuley, who is the municipality’s new CAO, said the funding means they can create an infrastructure for residents that they couldn’t have done otherwise.
McAuley, whose first day at the office was March 1, said when he found out about the projects “it was just the feather in the cap for me.”
“I wasn’t involved in putting together the projects. But when I look at the projects I think council did a good job of spreading it across the municipality. There’s a little bit in there for everybody in the municipality,” he said, adding that organizations that often contribute money to municipal projects can redirect funds elsewhere.
The municipality signed the agreement on Nov. 22, 2011 and by the province of Ontario on Dec. 16, 2011. It was effective June 29, 2011.The money must be spent by December 31, 2014.
OMAFRA’s Rural Programs Branch staff will monitor the progress of the economic development projects under this agreement and the municipality will report status updates to the ministry on a monthly basis.
The municipality submitted its first update March 15, 2012, documenting expenditures related to planning for the projects and including ledger copies from its books. That same day, the ministry issued a payment request of $7.94 million to Ontario Shared Services, and the full funds should arrive in the municipality shortly.