by Steve Brackenridge
Director, Ontario Federation of Agriculture
ONTARIO — Investments in infrastructure in our rural communities support their long-term sustainability that, in turn, supports our farm businesses. Because of this, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) is leading a campaign for increased infrastructure investments. We need to ensure rural Ontario has access to broadband, and affordable natural gas, as well as the education and medical services that help attract new businesses and support the wellbeing of our rural communities.
Sometimes it appears wins are few and far between. Advocating for rural investment takes time. But we are very pleased to see recent investments by the Ontario government in rural communities – with the announcement of updates to the Glanworth Bridge in Middlesex County, 128 new long-term care beds in Havelock, and a new grant for the Bluewater District School Board in Bruce and Grey Counties.
The Glanworth Bridge is an important Highway 401 overpass that provides an alternative route for oversized farm vehicles, but had been slated for removal. Farmers have been working for many years to preserve and protect this important route, and the Ministry of Transportation unveiled updated designs for the interchange at Highway 4 and 401 on February 7.
In other good news, a new provincial grant will help cover much-needed repairs to Paisley Central School, improving the chances for a community hub to be created in this area. OFA provided input during the review process for this school.
These rural infrastructure and health care wins are great news. They demonstrate the concept of distributed economic development that is OFA’s campaign for candidates in the June provincial election – Producing Prosperity in Ontario.
OFA knows that sound public investment in our rural communities will further our strength and grow the provincial economy, and provide new economic opportunities for families and our farms. When we build stronger rural communities we open up real opportunities for distributing population growth around the province to help solve growth pains for urban centres that struggle with transportation issues and soaring homes prices.
OFA is engaging with political candidates about the importance of spreading investments around the province to meet the needs of the agri-food sector, support rural communities and provide options for urban centre issues.
Find out more about how OFA is advocating for Producing Prosperity in Ontario at producingprosperity.ca