Ontario announces $26 million investment to revitalize rural main streets

This week, the Province of Ontario announced Ontario up to $26 million in new funding for the Main Street Revitalization Initiative, which will be administered by the Association of Municipalities of Ontario and its rural arm, the Rural Ontario Municipal Association.

Jeff Leal, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and the Minister Responsible for Small Business, made the announcement on Tuesday, January 23 at the Rural Ontario Municipal Association conference in Toronto.  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.

Main Street in Creemore, Ontario. Photo by P199 via Wikimedia Commons.
Main Street in Creemore, Ontario. Photo by P199 via Wikimedia Commons.

“Main streets are at the core of small, rural communities and are home to thousands of small businesses across the province. 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,” said Leal in a prepared statement.

Lynn Dollin, President of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario and Deputy Mayor of the Town of Innisfil, was equally optimistic. “AMO welcomes new funding through the Main Street Revitalization Initiative and we are pleased that municipal governments won’t have to provide matching funds to access the program. Municipal governments know how to get things done. This funding will help move projects forward on Ontario’s Main Streets, helping to attract residents, visitors and support the business community,” Dollin noted.

The new initiative is part of a $40 million investment — to be allocated over the course of three years  — in the Main Street Enhancement Fund, which aims to help strengthen small businesses in downtown and main street areas and enhance the digital presence and capabilities of small businesses through increased access to digital tools like e-commerce.

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