The 2019 federal budget allocates $950 million to underwrite retrofits and energy-efficient new development in the municipal, not-for-profit, private homeownership and affordable housing sectors. The investment is to be channelled into three streams of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Green Municipal Fund, which now has a 19-year track record as a delivery agent of funds for infrastructure and community-building projects that support clean air, clean water, waste reduction and brownfield rehabilitation.
The federal energy efficiency spending will be divvied three ways with a pot of $350 million earmarked for upgrades in “large community buildings” owned by municipalities or not-for-profit operators. The $600 million remainder will be split evenly between municipally sponsored programs to offer grants and incentives to homeowners, and programs targeting affordable housing. Local governments will use existing mechanisms for applying to the Green Municipal Fund to tap into the new funds.
The budget document cites on-site energy generation for multi-residential affordable housing complexes as one example of a potential qualifying project, and suggests some municipalities may use the money to demonstrate innovative technology or launch pilot projects. Targeting homeowners, municipalities are urged to leverage a funding model that Toronto is already using, which allows property owners to repay retrofit loans via a surcharge on their property tax bills.
An additional $60 million, to be disbursed over five years, will go into FCM’s Municipal Asset Management Capacity Fund, which provides smaller municipalities, in particular, with training and guidance to establish and maintain asset management programs. “This program has proven to be popular and has demonstrated results to assist communities in developing accurate data around local infrastructure for budgetary and investment decisions,” the budget document states.
Meanwhile, the funding announcement is proving popular with energy efficiency advocates. “This is money that will be invested to help cities cut energy waste and reduce costs for households, schools, hospitals and social housing,” projects Corey Diamond, executive director of Efficiency Canada, a national organization that promotes the economic development potential inherent in fostering energy efficiency and transitioning to a low-carbon economy.
FCM calculates that the 1,250 projects thus far undertaken with Green Municipal Fund support have created 9,905 person-years of employment and spurred $3 billion in spinoff investment in the host municipalities, while also resulting in 2.5 million tonnes of avoided greenhouse gas emissions — all from $862 million of seed capital.
“Energy efficiency is a job creation powerhouse, capable of creating more than 118,000 jobs annually,” Diamond asserts. “Investment like this directly leads to strong, local job creation for small businesses in cities across Canada.”