Community Improvement Plans (CIP) are an innovative tool for Economic Development, a concept clearly illustrated in Middlesex County. Over the past 3 years, Middlesex County’s Economic Development Department (EDD) has supported its local municipalities as they have developed and refined their respective CIPs. The Municipalities of Strathroy-Caradoc, Middlesex Centre, Lucan-Biddulph, Southwest Middlesex and North Middlesex, each currently boast either updated or newly created CIPs, and Adelaide Metcalfe is finalizing their CIP in order to follow suit. So what is a CIP and why are they so important?
To help catalyze the recent development and refinement of the above mentioned municipalities’ CIP programs, Middlesex County EDD worked with third-party consultant, Public Urbanism, to create a CIP Primer document. This document defines a CIP as “a powerful tool used by Ontario municipalities to facilitate the (re)development, rehabilitation, and/or revitalization of selected areas in a community” (p. 2 ) highlighting that “Under Section 106 of the Municipal Act, a municipality cannot provide assistance to any manufacturing business or other industrial or commercial enterprise through the granting of “bonuses” (…but that) notwithstanding this, Section 106 (3) states that municipalities can provide assistance in the carrying out of a CIP adopted under Section 28 of the Planning Act” (P. 2-3). In summary, this means that having a CIP in place allows for municipalities to directly engage the private sector in pursuance of their municipal Official Plan. Since under Ontario’s Municipal Act upper-tier municipalities like Middlesex County cannot have CIPs of their own, Middlesex EDD’s role over the last 3 years has been to encourage and support both administratively and financially the creation of and updates to these CIPs. With a large offering of CIPs in place across the County, 2021 allowed Middlesex County’s EDD to support these Plans even further, offering its inaugural Middlesex County CIP Implementation Program.
The 2021 Middlesex County CIP Implementation Program opened the door for local Middlesex County municipalities with active 2021 CIPs to apply for up to a 50% reimbursement of their approved CIP project contributions in 2021. This program resulted in Middlesex County awarding four local municipalities a total of $33,571.51 to help offset their $73,924.38 of contributions; leveraging $221,010.10 in private sector investment across 12 different CIP projects. These collaborative investments advance the recently updated Middlesex County 2021-2025 Economic Development Strategy, which contains 4 Strategic Priorities all of which can be supported through strong and sustainable CIPs. These investments also support Strategic Focus #3 in the 2021-2024 Middlesex County Strategic Plan, which is a focus on “Strengthening our Economy” by working to “Encourage a diverse and robust economic base throughout the County”. The reimbursements provided through the Middlesex County CIP Implementation Program, have given participating local municipalities the opportunity to re-invest these funds into their CIP programs, further strengthening the economic, social and environmental impact that their CIPs can have on their respective communities and Middlesex County in the years to come. Middlesex County is pleased to be able to offer its CIP Implementation Program to partnering municipalities once again in 2022.