The Town of Bradford West Gwillimbury will wait until the regional governance review is over before deciding what to do with $535,004 in new provincial funding, said Mayor Rob Keffer.
The money, allocated to small, rural Ontario communities, was revealed late last month by Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark, who initiated the governance review.
On Friday, York-Simcoe MPP Caroline Mulroney gathered mayors from BWG, Georgina and East Gwillimbury at her Holland Landing office to formally announce the funding for all three municipalities.
“Our government was elected to reverse the decline of small municipalities and rural Ontario. Through the funding … we are supporting growth in our communities and improving frontline services,” she said.
“The purpose of this funding is to ensure that smaller and rural municipalities are able to deliver modern, efficient services that show respect for people’s hard-earned tax dollars.”
In conjunction with Simcoe County, BWG, Georgina and East Gwillimbury will receive more than $2 million through the new funding, she said.
This is the local breakdown:
- BWG: $535,004
- East Gwillimbury: $725,000
- Georgina: $283,088
The amounts are based on the number of households in each community and whether they are rural or urban.
BWG Mayor Rob Keffer said the town is “really thrilled with this announcement” but will wait until the governance review is complete in case it can use some of the funding then.
The town took a step forward on Tuesday evening at a Committee of the Whole meeting, where councillors voted in favour of looking into becoming a separated city throughout the governance review.
A public meeting on the issue will be held April 15, and council must ratify the committee’s decision to make it official.
Keffer said, since then, he has not heard much feedback from the county about the committee’s decision.
“The county has made a statement they realize we are right to look at all options at this time,” he said.
No matter what the town ultimately decides to do with the new funding, Keffer said it will “go a long way to help our town be more efficient.”
The new funding will help the town look into the future and be at the forefront of attracting businesses and creating jobs, Keffer said.
“It really is a good news story for the town of BWG,” he said.
Georgina Mayor Margaret Quirk said her municipality recently underwent a “service delivery review” and will add the funding to its 2020 budget.
“We’re very thankful and grateful for the additional money,” she said.
East Gwillimbury Mayor Virginia Hackson said the more than $700,000 for her town “makes a huge difference.”
“We are rural, and we are small,” she said. “It can make tremendous difference in modernizing a lot of our opportunities that we have. We can use this to leverage other projects that are going on.”
She said the town will take the funding to its budget committee to see how quickly it can be used.
“There’s several projects we’re very strong in moving forward” related to IT and employment, Hackson said. “(The funding is) substantial. We can do a lot of good work for the community. We’re excited.”