Rural funding

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Rural Association Partnership Program

The application period for the 2022 program has now closed.

The Rural Association Partnership Program has a total budget of $50,000 to support the rural economy by providing funding for rural business organizations, fairs and farmers' markets. Funding is project based, with a defined beginning and end, and measurable outcomes. Maximum funding per project will not normally exceed $7,500 to ensure that all rural regions have an opportunity to access the funding. Funding will be granted on a matching basis (50 per cent) of eligible project expenses. Applications will be assessed on a competitive basis, using a peer evaluation process. Assessment will be based on the following general criteria: merit of project, economic and community impact, and organizational effectiveness. 


April 24 at 4 pm


Rural Affairs Office (
Tel: 613-580-2424, ext. 24541

Application Form 

If you would like the application form in Word format, please email the Rural Affairs Office at

1. Summary

Funding Opportunity Eligible Organizations Levels Of Funding
Special Project Funding Organizations operating rural fairs Maximum grant is generally limited to $7,500 per project.
Organizations that operate farmers’ markets
Rural business Organizations such as Chambers of Commerce and Business Improvement Areas

2. Program objectives

Objectives Of The Partnership Program

  • To provide project based funding that supports the main priorities for rural organizations.
  • To contribute to the City’s rural economic health by supporting projects that will assist Ottawa’s rural business organizations, fairs and farmers markets achieve sustainability and capitalize on the proximity to Ottawa’s large urban market.
  • To assist in promoting Ottawa’s rural identity to both residents and tourists
  • To provide economic benefits to small and medium sized enterprises in Ottawa’s rural communities.
  • Assist rural communities to overcome the business development challenges associated with smaller local population base.
  • To increase the capacity for rural communities to provide a quality visitor experience.

3. Eligibility

Who can apply?

Not-for-profit organizations that contribute to rural economic development, and that fall into one of the following three categories:

Rural Business Organizations

Organizations, based in rural Ottawa that are recognized as being active in supporting local retail and service sector businesses, promoting commerce and representing local business needs

Farmers' Markets

Provide seasonal, multi-vendor, community-driven (not private) organizations selling agricultural, food, art and craft products including home-grown produce, home-made crafts and value-added products where the vendors are primary producers (including preserves, baked goods, meat, fish, dairy products, etc.) located in rural Ottawa


Present and promote a major agricultural and/or heritage fair, that celebrates a distinct aspect of the local Ottawa character

General eligibility requirements for all categories
  1. Organization to be based and have an ongoing presence in rural Ottawa and/or have project activities that significantly benefit rural Ottawa.
  2. Not-for-profit
  3. Have a publicly accountable structure with an active Board of Directors that meets regularly
  4. Contribute to the economic development of Ottawa’s rural area through the implementation of new or enhanced projects.

Who cannot apply for funding?

  • Individuals
  • Educational or religious institutions
  • Government agencies
  • For-profit organizations/ventures
  • Political parties

What activities are ineligible?

  • Competitions
  • Production and distribution of films, recordings, books, magazines
  • Fundraising projects and initiatives
  • Activities already funded through other City programs
  • Pre-professional development or training projects
  • Sports and Recreation Tournaments and Events
  • Trade shows and Trade fairs
  • Parades
  • Projects or activities that have been completed on or before the application deadline date
  • On-going operations deemed to be business as usual
  • Projects that create a dependency

4. Funding

  • Funding will be provided for approved project on a matching basis (50 per cent) for eligible project expenses.
  • While in-kind contributions will strengthen an application, City funding will not exceed 50 per cent of eligible cash costs.
  • Program contributions will not normally exceed $7,500 per project.
  • Funding will be limited to one approved project per organization per year
  • Projects are to be completed by December 31 of the same year unless applicant provides a reasonable justification for an extension and receives written agreement from the City.

5. Assessment criteria

All project funding applications are assessed on the basis of the following three criteria:

  • Merit of project is the principal assessment criterion. The jury will be looking for clear goals and objectives that reflect the organization’s mandate, high standards in the development of the proposed project, appropriate strategies to realize the project and a successful track record of project management and or development initiatives.
  • Economic and community impact – applications should demonstrate their impact on the following two target groups:
    • Rural Ottawa Business (potential to contribute to increased sales activity and/or customer base for local businesses, leading to increased employment opportunities in the rural areas)
    • Ottawa Residents (community participation, audience development, accessibility of programming and /or activities, community-based partnerships, etc.)

Specifically jurors will look for applications that address the following criteria:

    • Local support, participation and benefit.
    • The number and types of partnerships attained (e.g. goods-in-kind, sponsorships)
    • Initiatives to attract visitors with quantifiable results;
    • The project and organization’s financial performance and demonstrated economic benefits to the community.
    • The level of potential to achieve increased economic benefits and activity in rural Ottawa
  • Organizational effectiveness - Refers to infrastructure development, capability for long range effective planning, fiscal responsibility, financial stability, diverse funding sources (fundraising, sponsorship, self-generated, in-kind donations, etc.), management and staff organization (expertise and knowledge, effective roles and responsibilities), professional standards and active leadership by the Board of Directors.

Please Note: Applications from startup organizations will be assessed with a reduced importance on historical performance

Financial need is considered in addition to the assessment criteria. It is determined according to the organization’s financial stability (ability to generate and access other sources of revenue, level of community support, commitment to ensuring the presentation of their program), and whether there is an accumulated deficit or surplus. Priority will be given to demonstrated financial need.

Funding received from the Partnership Program may not be used to increase a surplus or offset an existing financial deficit.

6. Application process

All applicants must complete the relevant application forms and attach all required documentation. Two authorized members including one member of the Board of Directors must sign the application.

All application and activity report documentation is collected in accordance with the Municipal Freedom of Information and Privacy Act.

Funding can only be used for the purposes specified in the original application to the Partnership Program funding. Any changes to the scale or activities, including changes in budget, program and other aspects, must be reported in writing and receive approval of the Program Coordinator.

You may wish to include the following support material items that support the account of your activities such as media coverage, promotional material, program brochures, photos, annual reports and publications, videotapes or hard copies of web pages. (1 copy only please)

If you wish to have your support material returned, please enclose a self-addressed envelope with the required postage. Do not send originals. The applicant agrees that the City of Ottawa is not responsible for the loss or damage, however caused, of applications or support materials.

7. How funding decisions are made

Peer evaluation principles

The City of Ottawa’s Rural Association Partnership Program involves both independent assessors and jurors in a peer assessment process. Peer assessment implies the use of local community members who have knowledge of Rural Business Organizations, Fairs and Farmers Markets to assess grant applications. If required, external assessments in specialized areas that are beyond the range of a particular jury’s expertise are solicited and taken into consideration.

Jurors and outside assessors are selected for their knowledge and recognized expertise and productivity within specific assessment criteria items (agricultural, community development, marketing, tourism, events programming, logistics, etc.) Committee members represent various facets of the rural community they are assessing (but not any particular group) and have an awareness of a broad range of Rural Business Organizations, Fairs and Farmers Markets.

Key principles of the jury member selection are to ensure balanced representation: 1) The inclusion of a range of sector experience and specialization, and 2) fair representation of official languages, gender, and geographic areas.

The Program Coordinator is responsible for the selection of jurors and independent assessors and will consult with members of the rural community, farmers markets, fairs and the tourism and business sector. City stakeholders and applicants are encouraged to recommend qualified names. If you are interested in participating as a juror, please send your resume to our mailing address or e-mail .

The City appreciates the contributions made by jurors and assessors for volunteering their efforts.

Assessment process

The assessment process is a competitive system that uses a peer-evaluation process. This process ensures that organizations are assessed democratically and that funding to organizations (who are successful in their application) is disbursed according to the level of merit of their programming. Staff do not direct the jury in their decisions about which organizations should receive funding nor the amount they should receive.

Once the deadline has passed, staff process and categorize all applications, verifying that activity reports from the previous year have been submitted. The Program Coordinator reviews each application to ascertain eligibility and to become familiar with the organization, its activities and funding request. During this process, the Program Coordinator may contact your organization for additional information or clarification on certain items. Names of individuals mentioned in applications (Board, staff, participating businesses and talent base) are noted in order to avoid any potential conflict of interest when selecting jurors.

Peer assessment juries evaluate all applications based on the assessment criteria. The assessment committee consists of three to five members who assess applications according to the publicly stated Assessment Criteria. Jury members review funding applications independently. The committee then meets to review and discuss the applications together. For each applicant, the jury decides its funding priority and recommends an award amount.

An applicant’s success in obtaining funding depends upon the jury’s final recommendation and the funding available within the Partnership Program.

Conflict of interest

The purpose of the peer assessment system is to select qualified and knowledgeable jurors and independent assessors from the rural business, fairs, and farmers market sector. Jurors may well have professional and personal contact with many of the applicants, which could constitute a conflict of interest. All actual or potential conflicts of interest that exist must be disclosed by the potential juror and assessed by the Program Coordinator.

Prior to the jury assessment meetings, jurors receive the Conflict of Interest and Confidentiality Policy, with a form for declaring conflicts. All jurors must complete and submit this form before the committee meeting. If a conflict has been declared it is assessed by the Program Coordinator in order to determine if this potential juror can be allowed to participate in the process. If the conflict is deemed minor, the individual may participate as a juror however he/she must leave the meeting for the duration of the specific assessment and abstain from any discussion related to the application.

Situations of potential conflict exist when:

  • a juror has a financial interest in the success or failure of an applicant’s program or project
  • a juror has an interest based on the fact that an applicant's program or project involves a spouse/live-in partner or an immediate family member
  • a juror has a personal interest in specific applications other than what is normally expected of interested members of the sector
  • for any other reason, a juror is unable to objectively assess an application

Assessors and jury members are required to treat both the contents of applications they review and the deliberations of the jury as confidential. At the end of the assessment meeting, all application materials are gathered from the jurors and shredded to protect confidentiality.

At the end of the funding allocation, the Rural Affairs Office will publish a summary of results, listing the names of all funding recipients, jurors and assessors. Until this list is published, the names of successful applicants, jurors and assessors will not be revealed. The identity of unsuccessful applicants remains confidential.

Allocation of funding

An applicant’s success in obtaining Partnership funding depends upon the committee’s final evaluation and the funding available within the program.

8. If you are awarded funding

Release of funds

If you are awarded funding you will receive a letter informing you of the amount funded. The result letter will also include the Terms and Conditions form which describes special conditions attached to your grant. Payments will be reimbursed upon submission of a claim form with supporting documentation, such as cancelled cheques, invoices etc.

Right to reconsideration

All results are final. There is no appeal of evaluators’ decisions regarding the merit of your activities or their recommendation of an award amount. The Partnership Program allows for reconsideration; but only in specific cases where there is substantial evidence of procedural errors and/or when the original application was not assessed according to the publicly stated evaluation criteria.

Acknowledgement of support

Grant recipients are required to acknowledge the support of the City of Ottawa as follows:

Print materials – By reproducing the City of Ottawa logo or making a written acknowledgement using the following formulation:

[Name] gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the City of Ottawa.

Acknowledgement should appear in or on:

  • publicity materials (posters, flyers, postcards), with the exception of advertisements
  • promotional materials (giveaways, novelties)
  • informational materials (newsletter, prospectus, program, agenda, schedule)
  • press materials (press release, press kit)
  • signage where appropriate
In verbal announcements - By mentioning support verbally in:
  • public announcements and presentations
  • press conferences and/or speeches

An electronic version of the City logo can be obtained by contacting the Rural Affairs Office at or by calling 613-580-2424, ext. 24541

9. Reporting and follow-up

All successful applicants are required to submit an activity report detailing how they used the funding granted to them. This report must be submitted within three months of project completion.

Failure to provide a report will result in your organization being ineligible for subsequent City of Ottawa funding from this or any other City partnership programs.

Your activity report must include the following information:

  • a detailed summary of the final project or program of activities, performances and/or presentations including any changes made to original proposal, challenges and achievements
  • financial statements for program or project
  • a summary of the volunteer contribution your program/project received (include numbers of volunteers and hours, where possible)

10. Glossary of terms

Rural Area – The area identified as outside the urban boundary on Schedule B9 of the City of Ottawa Official Plan:

Schedule B9 - Rural Transect [ PDF 6.592 MB ]

Ottawa–based - An organization that is Ottawa-based has a significant percentage of its Board and staff living in Ottawa, and delivers its services and events within the Ottawa city limits.

On-going presence (organization) – The organization Board and staff and/or core volunteers are active year-round and carries-out operations such as management and planning, human resources and program development, fundraising planning and/or events, etc.

11. Contacts

Information on the Partnership Program

To request application forms:

Call 613-580-2424, ext. 24541

For specific enquiries or to discuss your organization’s eligibility:

Rural Affairs Office
613-580-2424, ext. 24541

Applications should be mailed, faxed, scanned and e-mailed or hand-delivered to:

City of Ottawa
Rural Affairs Office
Rural Association Partnership Program
110 Laurier Avenue West, 4th Floor

MC 01-15
Ottawa, Ontario K1P 1J1
Fax: 613-560-6026

Applications must be received by 4 pm on the deadline date or postmarked on that day.
Late and incomplete applications will not be considered.