Inverness County could be added to federal climate change program

INVERNESS COUNTY: A local municipality could be among those added to a new program between the federal government and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM).

On July 16, Bernadette Jordan, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, on behalf of Seamus O’Regan Jr., Minister of Natural Resources, and Joanne Vanderheyden, President of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities announced an investment of $9.74 million through FCM’s Green Municipal Fund (GMF) to lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and drive cost savings in communities in Nova Scotia.

The $9.57 million investment is provided through GMF’s Community Efficiency Financing initiative to help the not-for-profit organization Clean Foundation, alongside its municipal partners, and extend the Clean Energy Financing program to support residential energy retrofits in rural Nova Scotia municipalities, the FCM noted.

The FCMP said Clean Foundation launched the Clean Energy Financing (CEF) program alongside its municipal partners in 2016 to support residential energy retrofits in rural Nova Scotia municipalities.

According to a press release issued by the FCM last week, the program is currently operating in partnership with the towns of Bridgewater and Amherst, the districts of Digby, Lunenburg, Barrington and Yarmouth, and Cumberland County and plans to grow in the Town of New Glasgow and the Municipality of the County of Inverness.

Inverness Warden Laurie Cranton said the municipality is intrigued by the funding.

“We’re always interested in anything that’s going to improve the welfare of our municipality and our residents, so yes, we are interested,” Cranton told The Reporter. “It’s a significant amount of money.”

According to the FCM, the program uses a Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing model, where homeowners pay for their home upgrades via a special charge on their property tax bills – and save enough in energy costs to cover the retrofits.

Both energy-efficiency and renewable-energy measures are considered eligible, as well as some other enabling upgrades, so long as they save as much or more in energy and heating expenses as the cost of the retrofits, the FCM explained, noting that financing amounts vary by participating municipalities, and some municipalities offer a set amount while others offer financing based on the value of the property.

“I have some questions after reading it again today about the one for the homes, following the PACE program,” the warden noted. “You have to apply, they have to assess your home. You have to come up with the money to do the modifications. And then it should pay for itself over a period of time. But not everybody can afford to do that, who really need it.”

The FCM said GMF’s Community Efficiency Financing initiative helps communities of all sizes implement local financing programs that helps homeowners cut their GHG emissions, make their homes more energy-efficient, comfortable and affordable, and create local jobs.

“Canadians want new ways to make their homes energy efficient and more affordable,” said Joanne Vanderheyden, President of the FCM. “FCM’s Green Municipal Fund can enable more local action, right in their homes, to achieve Canada’s climate change goals. GMF is empowering municipalities, big and small, to get results on the ground. Today’s announcement helps communities build better lives for Canadians with more energy-efficient homes.”