Ontario Aboriginal Housing Services (OAHS) is launching an energy consulting team to work with First Nations, Inuit and Métis property managers and tenants in off-reserve dwellings. Financial support for the initiative comes from a newly announced round of funding from Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) for Indigenous communities and organizations engaged in education and capacity building, developing community energy plans and/or implementing energy projects.
OAHS, a non-profit housing provider overseeing a widely dispersed portfolio in rural and urban settings throughout Ontario, aims to implement a broad based strategy to improve energy performance in existing rental stock, build awareness, offer energy-related job training and ensure green energy and energy efficiency will be a consideration in future acquisitions and development. Funding has been attained from two IESO programs to enable hiring of three community energy champions for three-year terms along with a five-member energy team supported through the education and capacity building program.
“Through education and improvements, we believe our energy plan will take major strides towards reducing energy costs both short and long term for the thousands of people we serve. Not only will these programs have an immediate impact to our tenants but they will also create employment, educate staff, reduce emissions and extend the life cycle of our units,” says Dan Gartshore, technical services manager for OAHS. “OAHS is extremely excited to be a part of two amazing programs offered through the IESO.”
The OAHS portfolio comprises single-family housing and apartments in cities and towns such as Hamilton, Peterborough, Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie, Sioux Lookout, Blind River, Cochrane, Red Lake and Dryden.
In total, the IESO has awarded more than $7 million for 61 Indigenous-led initiatives, including funding to hire and train 15 community energy champions, develop or update four community energy plans, and support feasibility studies or installation of renewable applications in remote areas where electricity costs are high and/or communities rely on diesel generation sources.
“We continue to listen carefully to our Indigenous partners with a view to ensuring our funding delivers tangible results and enables positive economic, environmental and social outcomes,” says Terry Young, the IESO’s interim president and chief executive officer.