Brooke-Alvinston, Dawn-Euphemia lose big in provincial funding announcement

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There will be a lot fewer provincial dollars to spend in Brooke-Alvinston and Dawn-Euphemia again this year.

The province released the 2022 Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund grants Thursday and the two rural communities have lost thousands in funding. Brooke-Alvinston is out $72,400, about 12 per cent of its $594,100 grant. Dawn-Euphemia is out another $41,900 – that’s about 14.7 per cent of its $285,400 grant.

For both municipalities to make up that cash, they’ll have to raise about municipal taxes between one-and-a-half or two per cent.

“We’re very disappointed in the ongoing reductions in funding to the municipal townships…The tax burden is being unfairly placed upon rural landowners on – the food production area of Ontario,” says Brooke-Alvinston Mayor Dave Ferguson.

Dawn-Euphemia Mayor Al Broad echoed his comments. “We’re extremely disappointed in the province and the Conservative government. They promised us when they were elected, that they will look at the funding it look at the formulas, obviously, their formulas are skewed.”

Broad says under the funding formula, the province estimates each household’s assessment is worth about $663,000. The mayor has worried for years the value of the Dawn Hub of Enbridge is skewing the provincial numbers.

“We were pretty excited when the Conservatives got into power, they promised that they would review that information. And obviously they haven’t they just continued to to knock us down,” he says. “And unfortunately, some of the urban areas seem to be getting increases on what was originally a farm tax rebate program, it just doesn’t make.”

While the provincial funding has decreased, the need to fix existing roads and bridges grows. But Ferguson says the federal and provincial government rarely offer special grants to fix bridges and roads. Usually, grants are aimed at improving recreational facilities or finding efficiencies.

“There’s not a lot of new technology that can help us that can help us on gaining efficiencies, people still need the roads cleaned in the morning when they’re heading off to work. They still need water coming through the pipes. They still need the basic services we as a municipality provides…There is there is very little efficiencies to find once you’re past a certain point.”

Broad agrees: “All we want is stable funding, something that we can sit there and say, ‘five years from now, you know what, we’re going to get this many dollars for the funding, let’s go and put our budgets accordingly.’ But what they do is, they keep knocking back our own funding, they keep throwing some grant money out here and there, which is nice, don’t get me wrong, we really appreciate it. But it doesn’t sure help us with our long time planning. It’s just too unpredictable.”

Broad believes the province has to look at a simpler way of providing operating funds such as giving a fixed dollar amount for every kilometer of roads in the province.

While many municipalities saw their provincial funding drop again, Enniskillen Township is actually getting about $7,000 more. Over the years, Mayor Kevin Marriott says, the township has to “match it dollar-for-dollar” with a tax increase. “So, finally, for once, we won’t have to raise taxes to make up for what we lost.”

Marriott believes his municipality received a little more this year because the province allocated more cash for communities which were predominantly agriculture. Municipalities such as Dawn-Euphemia and Brooke-Alvinston didn’t see the increase because the province is still removing transitional funding from them.

Marriott, who is now Lambton County’s warden, added to the chorus of disappointments over the Conservatives failure to change the funding formula.

Marriott says it has been one of his municipality’s biggest disappointments. “They were pretty adamant about about fixing mess and opposition, so I don’t know who to blame more the the ones that caused it or the ones that won’t fix it.”

He’s hoping at some point the province will revamp the funding, making it clear how it determines who gets what and fixing inequities.

Marriott points to the fact that Chatham-Kent, which has virtually the same population as Lambton but is an amalgamated regional government receives $20 million in OMPF cash in 2022. All the municipalities in Lambton combined receive just over $9.6 million.

“To come up with $20 million versus $9.6 million? Nothing makes sense because say we’re within 10 per cent of Chatham-Kent’s population. you know, that doesn’t equate to 100 per cent more OMPF (funding).”

And while Ferguson agrees the formula needs to be changed, he doesn’t think that will ever happen.

Comparison of Ontario Municipal Partnership Funding grants in Lambton from 2021 to 2022

Municipality                             2021                          2022                   Per house

Brooke-Alvinston                     $594,100                     $521,700            $500

Dawn-Euphemia              $285,400            $243,500            $276

Enniskillen                     $279,300            $286,300            $252

Lambton Shores             $1,682,000                  $1,647,300         $215

Oil Springs                             $188,300                     $183,900            $605

Petrolia                                  $900,400                     $862,300            $342

Plympton-Wyoming                 $862,200                     $895,500            $247

Point Edward                          $900                           $800                          $0.82

Sarnia                                    $3,601,300                  $3,623,200         $107

St. Clair                         $945,800            $950,300            $145

Warwick                                  $386,400                    $400,100                $271

Increases and Decreases in funding by dollars

Brooke-Alvinston                     – $72,400       

Dawn-Euphemia                       -$41,900

Enniskillen                               +$7,000

Lambton Shores                      -$34,700

Oil Springs                               -$4,400

Petrolia                                    -$38,100

Plympton-Wyoming                  +$33,300

Point Edward                           -$100

Sarnia                                      +$21,900

St. Clair                                   +$4,500

Warwick                                   +$13,700