Are rural Ontario communities capable of responding to infrastructure pressures and opportunities? How does that capacity – or lack thereof – affect a community’s current and future long-term economic development? Using surveys, workshops, content analysis, and case studies, this research initiative will examine the capacity of different communities in rural Ontario to respond to infrastructure pressures and how these response impact their short and long-term economic well-being. to develop recommendations for addressing these issues through both immediate and long-term policy alternatives.

Communities of all sizes must balance fiscal realities, changing economies, aging infrastructure, changing demographics, and a challenging climate as they work to manage their core infrastructure assets and accommodate and/or address new infrastructure and service demands. This research initiative will directly support rural Ontario’s economic vitality by providing three key benefits: enhanced understanding of the diversity and varying levels of rural community capacities, improved and more nuanced public policy, and enhanced rural infrastructure development programming. This research initiative directly addresses priorities identified in the 2017-2018 OMAFRA Research Themes and Priorities under the theme of Infrastructure and Rural Economic Development.


This project is funded by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs under the UoG-OMAFRA Research Program.


Research Vignettes:

Building the Future Survey

In partnership with the Ontario Good Roads Association, the Building the Future research team has launched a survey for rural municipal officials and staff to learn more about their experiences in planning for and connecting infrastructure initiatives and economic development strategies.

The survey was launched at the 2020 Ontario Good Roads Association Conference in Toronto, Ontario in February 2020. Due to the unanticipated challenges posed by COVID-19 shortly thereafter, the survey was re-launched in June 2020, in partnership with OGRA.

More than 250 municipal leaders across Ontario responded to the survey. The research team is currently reviewing the data collected in the survey, with early results expected to be released by the end of 2021.

Learn More

To learn more about the Building the Future project, please contact Ashleigh Weeden at [email protected]