The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) has released a report detailing the important contribution rural municipalities make and outlining the challenges these communities face. This includes challenges in providing adequate, long-term access to water and wastewater service that meet human and environmental needs.
The report, Rural Challenges, national opportunity — Shaping the future of rural Canada, includes recommendations encouraging the federal government to tackle these challenges head-on and raise Canadians’ quality of life nationwide.
“When it comes to providing the infrastructure necessary to support a strong economy and high quality of life, rural governments are faced with two key problems-the challenge of serving dispersed communities and the limits of their fiscal and administrative capacity,” said FCM’s Rural Forum chair, Ray Orb.
In its report, FCM points to successes achieved through the Municipal Asset Management Program (MAMP) and the Municipalities for Climate Innovation Program (MCIP), which are both administered by the organization. A case study is presented on the town of Carleton Place, Ontario. The town “is preparing a water and wastewater resiliency plan to help prepare for the impacts of fluctuating precipitation patterns they are already experiencing.” Without funding from MCIP, the town would be strained to meet human and environmental requirements for clean water as it encounters emergent drought conditions and algal blooms.
Ultimately, the report provides recommendations to address the realities rural municipalities face. Key recommendations include:
- Applying a ‘rural lens’ to all federal policies and programs aimed at empowering smaller communities to better support local needs.
- Designing future rural infrastructure programs that provide long-term predictable funding with flexibility to account for rural realities.
- Committing long-term predictable resources to expanding broadband internet access in rural, northern and remote communities.
“This report tells the story of the significant contribution rural municipalities make to the nation’s economy, but it also highlights the fiscal squeeze they face due to low population densities and the exodus of younger generations,” said Orb. “But as a key driver of economic growth, we know that investing in rural Canada means building a better country for everyone.”
FCM is leading the way in advocating for new tools that empower rural communities to build tomorrow’s Canada and has secured unprecedented federal investment in recent years.