Rural Local Governments Need to Pursue Entrepreneurial Strategies to Support Rural Futures

Date: January 3, 2023

Author: University of Guelph Professor Ryan Gibson and PhD student John Dale

Local governments are a key partner in the future of rural communities throughout Ontario. Over the past 30 years, the realities of local governments have changed dramatically. As part of a national initiative, University of Guelph Professor Ryan Gibson and John Dale (PhD student in Rural Studies) recently published a new report titled, “Do more, with less: The realities of local government in rural Ontario” in The Canadian Geographer.

The research interviewed staff and elected officials in eight rural communities in Ontario: Brockton, Dubreuiville, Goderich, Haldimand County, Huron County, Newmarket, Sioux Lookout, and Wellington County. Municipal staff and elected officials discussed the challenges and opportunities related to infrastructure pressures, housing, economic development, local government restructuring and collaboration, and fiscal levers. The key messages emerging from the research include:

  • Local government policy changes in rural Ontario have created new responsibilities with limited financial and human resources, resulting in a “do more, with less” approach.
  • New Public Management approaches continue to impact the ability of local governments in rural Ontario.
  • The policy landscape has created, perhaps necessitated, opportunities for local governments to seek alternative strategies to deliver programs and services.

The full publication “Do more, with less: The realities of local government in rural Ontario” is available through The Canadian Geographer journal or by emailing either Ryan ( or John ( Additional publications from this national research initiative focus on the situations in British Columbia and Newfoundland and Labrador can be found in these recent publications: