cookie cutter solutions

Yesterday the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs put out a news release that the province is providing more than $27,000 to an Aurora cookie business:
http://news.ontario.ca/omafra/en/2015/11/ontario-supporting-cookie-it-up.html

We read that supporting rural communities is part of the government’s economic plan for Ontario.

Since 2003, the province has invested more than $187 million in almost 600 projects through the Rural Economic Development program.

Among the recipients listed here:
http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/rural/red/red-recipients14.htm are only two others n all of York Region:

From the FAQ section here we read:

The ministry has made changes for business applicants through the Business Development Stream, to enhance the program’s alignment with current program practices across Ontario, and improve the ministry’s ability to support businesses that benefit rural communities.

Yes, rural communities like Aurora, because that’s how this program defines us:

For the RED program, rural Ontario comprises lower-tier and single-tier municipalities that have a population of less than 100,000, or a population density of 100 people per square kilometre or less.

The areas listed below are considered “urban”. All other areas in the province are considered “rural”:

Windsor
London
Kitchener
Cambridge
Guelph
Hamilton
St. Catharines
Burlington
Oakville
Mississauga
Brampton
Toronto
Vaughan
Markham
Barrie
Richmond Hill
Ajax
Whitby
Oshawa
Kingston
Ottawa
Thunder Bay

They even went as far as making an online map that distinguishes between urban and rural: http://ontarioca11.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=1d2a44d2634649b49874e24184f3c0e3

To re-cap Richmond Hill – urban

Aurora – rural

Oh, and Newmarket, they’re also rural.

But are they?

The program defines rural Ontario as having a population of less than 100,000, or a population density of 100 people per square kilometre or less.

That’s a pretty big “or”.

Going back to the 2011 census data (because why would we possibly need to have a long form census) Aurora’s population density is 1,068.8 persons per square km.

Newmarket’s is 2000 per square km.

These numbers are significantly larger than 100 people per square km, but because they have populations below an arbitrary 100,000 ceiling this criteria is met?

Why is there an or statement at all?

Why not defines rural Ontario as having a population of less than 100,000, AND a population density of 100 people per square kilometre or less.

Or, why not remove the population less than number entirely.

It’s not like the criteria for this program aligns with the definition of “rural” on the national stage:

Statistics Canada defines rural for their population counts. The current definition states that census rural is the population outside settlements with fewer than 1,000 inhabitants and a population density below 400 people per square kilometre (Statistics Canada, 2007).

There’s more on wikipedia here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rural_area

In Canada, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development defines a “predominantly rural region” as having more than 50% of the population living in rural communities where a “rural community” has a population density less than 150 people per square kilometre.

I’m all for investing in small business, but a business located on “Industrial Parkway” in a town that has built out to its borders that does not meet Statistics Canada or the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development definition of rural runs counter to the government’s economic plan for Ontario by reducing the overall funding available for actual rural communities.

By continuing to play fast and loose with definitions the Ontario government is able to redirect funds instead of following an economic plan.

If only this level of stupidity was the stuff of urban legend.

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