The provincial government has been busy over the past week or so handing out more money and announcing new programs designed to benefit the north.
Gas tax funding goes up
The second year of the McGuinty government?s gas tax funding program, aimed at improving transit service in Greater Sudbury, has been expanded to the tune of $2.03 million for 2006.
Last year Greater Sudbury received $1.35 million in provincial gas tax funding, money that was used to increase service hours for specialized Handi-Transit service, introduce new Sunday service to outlying communities and improve service to post-secondary institutions, said Sudbury MPP Rick Bartolucci.
In 2004/05, Ontario started sharing one cent a litre of the gas tax with municipalities, resulting in $156 million for local transit funding. In the second year of the program, municipalities will receive one-and-a-half cents a litre, totalling $232 million. The investment will grow to two cents a litre by October 2006.
By 2009, the government is committed to investing more than $1 billion in gas tax funding on public transit.
Municipal funding increase
Greater Sudbury is getting an extra $3.5 million from the province in 2006 under the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund, bring the amount to $58,701,18.
?Our government recognizes the fact that Greater Sudbury faces its own set of unique issues and this additional funding will help address those challenges,? said Bartolucci.
The OMPF assists municipalities with their share of social program costs, supports areas with limited property assessment, addresses challenges faced by northern and rural communities, and responds to policing costs in rural communities.
The OMPF replaced the Community Reinvestment Fund in 2005 as the province?s primary transfer payment to municipalities. In 2006, it will provide funding to 391 municipalities ? or 88 per cent of all municipalities in the province.
Funding for tourism centre downtown
The Ontario government is supporting tourism in Greater Sudbury with a $20,000 grant to help attract tourists to the region.
?Our government is pleased to provide Greater Sudbury with the assistance needed to better develop our tourism potential,? Bartolucci said. ?This will help us draw more visitors to our region so they experience for themselves all the great things our area has to offer, which in turn will encourage them to spend more and stay longer.?
The grant from the Ministry of Tourism?s Investment and Development Office (IDO) will be used to cover costs associated with a new visitor information centre in Sudbury?s downtown core.