Skip to content

Funding program to boost Northern rural development

The province announced the renewal of its Rural Economic Development program on Jan. 30.
Under the Rural Economic Development program, rural Ontario communities can apply for funding to help with economic development initiatives, such as a tourism-related marketing plan. Supplied photo

The province has announced the renewal of the Rural Economic Development (RED) program, which helps rural communities with economic development.

Announced in the 2016 budget, the RED program sets aside $5 million per year to support community economic development initiatives.

Eligible communities can apply the funds to things like a downtown revitalization plan or a tourism-related marketing and promotion strategy.

“It is important that we invest in building up our vibrant rural communities, so that they can grow and support the creation of good jobs both now and in the future,” said Jeff Leal, minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, in a news release.

“The renewed RED program will support rural Ontario in identifying and addressing barriers to long-term growth and help shape a strong future for our rural communities.”

The Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities (FONOM) applauded the move.

Initially, the RED program was to be suspended and integrated into the Jobs and Prosperity Fund, and FONOM had been concerned smaller, rural projects would be pushed out in favour of larger projects in urban centres.

“Our rural members have highlighted that there is a continued need for a program that is designed specifically for their geographic and demographic realities,” said Alan Spacek, mayor of Kapuskasing and president of FONOM, in a release.

“FONOM, along with member communities, requested that the program continue and we thank the government for listening,” Spacek added. “We look forward to hearing how more communities are benefitting from this funding.”

In 2016, the government approved 38 RED community projects, representing a total investment of up to $1.7 million.

Since 2013, the Rural Economic Development program has committed more than $8 million toward almost 160 community economic development projects, generating over $25 million in new economic activity and creating and supporting more than 600 jobs.