Provincial grants aim at enhancing downtowns

Lambton municipalities are eligible for nearly $500,000 in grant money

The Judith and Normal Alix Art Art Gallery is downtown Sarnia landmark. (Travis Poland/Lambton Shield)

The downtown core of local communities could be in for a facelift.

Last week, the Ontario government announced its Main Street Revitalization Initiative. It will distribute of $26 million to support Ontario’s main streets and their business communities.

While the program’s specifics have yet to be released, the province suggests the money could go towards projects like pedestrian crosswalks and landscaping. Alternatively, municipalities can direct funding to local businesses to improve their storefronts by installing lighting or new signage.

In Lambton County, Sarnia is eligible for up $88,790, St. Clair Township could receive up to $48,000, and Petrolia may get $41,000.

The Association of Municipalities of Ontario is responsible for administering the grants and said it will keep municipalities informed of its progress so they can get ready to make the funds work locally.

The funding is allocated based on population size using data from the 2016 census and includes an adjustment for communities that have fewer than 25,000 residents to ensure all communities get an appropriate level of funding.

The Main Street Revitalization Initiative is part of a three year, $40 million investment which, according to the province, will help strengthen small businesses in downtown and main street areas and enhance the digital presence and capabilities of small businesses through increased access to digital tools like e-commerce.

“Many smaller communities have downtown business areas that play a special and critical role in building strong local economies,” said Ronald Holman, the chairman of the Rural Ontario Municipal Association and mayor of the Township of Rideau Lakes. “Programs like the Main Street Revitalization Initiative benefit our Main Street businesses which are important to rural Ontario.”

A complete list of the funding Lambton municipalities are eligible for follows below:

Sarnia – $88,790

St. Clair Township – $48,000

Lambton Shores – $45,000

Plympton-Wyoming – $42,600

Petrolia – $41,000

Brooke-Alvinston – $38,000

Dawn-Euphemia – $37,700

Warwick – $39,000

Enniskillen – $38,400

Point Edward – $37,800

Oil Springs – $36,600

More about the program can be found on the Ontario government website.

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