Clean Nova Scotia asked about program criteria

ARICHAT: Councillors had some questions for Clean Nova Scotia about the qualifications for its programs.

On September 24 in Arichat, during the regular monthly meeting of Richmond Municipal Council, Clean Nova Scotia’s Sonia Smith told councillors about her group and the work it does.

Smith, who works with the foundations’ Home Warming Program, explained they cover all homes that are heated by non-electric sources (gas, wood, coal, and oil).

Aside from being legal home owners, applicants must provide proof of their net income, as well as their notice of assessment. Depending on how many live in a given home, the income eligibility requirements vary from $21,822 to a single resident, to $57,747 for five or more occupants.

Once people qualify, the foundation then dispatches an energy advisor to that home to conduct an energy assessment to confirm if there is a lack of insulation, or if there are drafts or leaks around doors or windows.

“That is where we basically set up a fan in their doorway, seal off other areas in the house and run an air test,” Smith explained.

The energy advisor then shares the results of that test with the homeowner to identify problem areas. From there, the foundation gets the permission of the property owner before contacting contractors.

“There is no cost for this service,” Smith noted. “The province and Nova Scotia Power pay 100 per cent of the fees and cost for the program to be administered and delivered to homeowners.”

Smith said this work can run from sealing and caulking, to replacing light bulbs, to putting insulating blankets on hot water heater and pipes.

As for those who do not qualify for the program, Smith said the main reasons surround the income threshold. Since those numbers can regularly change, as well as the circumstances of the homeowner, Smith asked that those who do not qualify, re-apply the following year.

Deputy Warden James Goyetche said he knows of residents who were turned down for the program in the past and he pointed to a recent case where one person was denied because they received a government grant.

“The program has been out since 2015, what you received in 2000, to me doesn’t make any difference,” Goyetche said.

Smith said those who qualified for past foundation programs would be turned down for this program but she asked that any councillor with questions about qualifications for the program to contact her directly.

“It would’ve been because they participated either in our home warming program or the residential low income program in the past,” Smith responded.

Smith also told the deputy warden that people using oil for heat, or wanting to convert from electric to oil heat, can also qualify. She then promised to send more application forms to the municipality for those interested.

Councillor Alvin Martell noted that some people didn’t bother applying for this program in the past because it was overseen by Nova Scotia Power and was restricted to those using electric heat.

“… For some people once they apply and don’t qualify, they won’t reapply, but tonight it’s nice to have you here so the viewing public can hear and see there’s a new program available,” Martell said.

Warden Brian Marchand asked if the income of children of a homeowner have to be included in the application in cases where a resident doesn’t have the property in their name, or where there is a shared ownership arrangement.

Smith answered that in certain cases, the income of a shared owner would have to be included, but in other cases, Housing Nova Scotia can give referrals for homeowners who accessed their programs in the past. She added that people who access Housing Nova Scotia programs now can also be directed to the foundation’s programs.

“Because Housing Nova Scotia can confirm that the homeowner does own the home, whereas that’s not something that we can do,” she explained.

“Housing Nova Scotia would not include the income of the children if the homeowner is the only person living in the home.”