Now in our 21st year, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ (FCM’s) Green Municipal Fund (GMF) is poised to support Canadian municipalities as they step into deep systemic change and reach net-zero emissions by 2050. Undeterred by a disruptive year, we are more committed than ever to partner with municipalities to build economically, environmentally and socially vibrant communities. That’s the triple bottom line that guides everything we do. 

A proven entity in the Canadian climate action ecosystem, GMF is a successful, $1 billion endowment funded by the Government of Canada and delivered to municipalities by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM). We support municipalities — from capacity building, to planning, to capital projects — as they reduce pollution, improve energy efficiency, revitalize public infrastructure and more.  

Despite the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic in communities across Canada, municipalities big and small have continued to drive forward towards climate neutrality, net zero energy and environmental sustainability. We approved $116.4M in loans and $53.1M in grants — the largest amount we’ve approved in a single year since our inception. We also transferred $155.7M to establish the Low Carbon Cities Canada (LC3) network, a partnership with six organizations in seven big cities. 

GMF’s core funding for plans, feasibility studies and pilot projects in brownfields, energy transportation, waste and water continues to be highly relevant to municipalities. Our newest initiatives and products - LC3, Community Efficiency Financing (CEF) and Sustainable Affordable Housing (SAH) - launched this year and have already had impressive impacts on the ground. You’ll read all about them in this report. 

Beyond financing, GMF doubled down on supporting municipalities to become better equipped to address climate change and advance environmental initiatives by leveraging capacity building to inspire, connect and develop municipalities’ capacity to develop and deliver sustainable solutions.  

The incredible progress in 2020-21 is a tribute to the dedication of frontline municipal leaders and their partner organizations, as well as our staff, who found work-arounds at every turn. Together, we're demonstrating how Canadian municipalities can prepare for an economic recovery based on environmentally and socially sound practices. 

We believe that a green and socially just recovery is within reach, and envision a country that’s more prosperous, resilient and interconnected — one that protects marginalized residents, creates opportunities for all and drives every sector toward our climate goals.  

Solutions are here and municipalities are ready. And GMF has the tools and knowledge to help them target net-zero emissions by 2050. Let’s move forward together. 

Joanne Vanderhayden, President, Federation of Canadian Municipalities

Our Story

A word on the pandemic

A word on the pandemic

At the end of March 2020, our team was celebrating 20 years of success in helping Canadian municipalities switch to innovative and sustainable practices. We were proud of our achievements and preparing to launch new funding programs. We had big, bold plans for the coming year. And then … 

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have been devastating and wide-ranging. Beyond the shutdowns and the stress on health systems, we have all had to confront unacknowledged societal inequities. As part of this process, GMF is thoughtfully and carefully bringing a more focused diversity and inclusion lens to our programming. It’s an important component of the work we do in our SAH initiative, and more like-minded work is on the way. 

In the past 12 months, our teams rallied to serve clients who faced chaotic and crisis-level situations. We helped them build capacity and network to learn important lessons about what works and what doesn’t in sustainable initiatives.  

We also learned some important and positive lessons about our own capacity. We were pleased by the extent to which our clients engaged with our virtual program offerings. This was particularly true of smaller and more rural municipalities, who often don’t have the means to travel to national events. Online events worked well for them. 

Online learning meant that for the first time we were able to bring together the Leadership in Brownfield Renewal (LiBre) program’s French and English cohorts, through simultaneous interpretation. Previously, our in-person events had always been held separately, catering to one fully English and one fully French cohort at a time. This year, the cohorts finally connected online!  

It was also gratifying to offer online events that further reduced our carbon footprint. There is still a place for in-person and national gatherings, but we now see more possibilities for virtual events in line with our low-carbon principles. 

Even with the pandemic restrictions, consultation was front and centre this year, particularly around a green and sustainable recovery. Municipalities are enthusiastic about learning from each other — they want to know who has done what and what results they achieved. We’ve made a point of responding that desire for knowledge through our programming so municipalities can make data-driven decisions while remaining in place. 

Internally, we acted quickly to support our team members with empathy and flexibility. We quickly embraced new tools that enabled remote work and virtual connectivity. Through ongoing consultation with our team members, we maintained a high level of engagement. We even welcomed a significant number of new team members on board to support GMF’s continued growth and portfolio expansion. We’re now having conversations with employees about the future of work at GMF, so we can remain focused on a workplace in which our employees feel engaged and supported.  

We are proud of the support we provided to municipalities and GMF team members throughout this long year, and are excited about working together on a vibrant and inclusive recovery. 

Milestones on the path to net zero by 2050

Our legacy in 2020-2021


Replication is the sincerest form of success. It’s our raison d’etre and why we focus on scaling out what works. This is increasingly necessary as Canada raises its emission targets and looks toward a net zero 2050. 

To that end, we have both broadened our products and created new ones that directly address some of the highest priority climate change-related issues and opportunities identified by Canadian municipalities. Municipalities want large-scale solutions in specific sectors. And with decades of research behind us, we know which changes can have the most impact. Municipalities need support for affordable residential housing and community level retrofits, so that’s where we’re focusing our efforts.

This year’s big win 

The real story this year is the lightning speed at which we deployed our new offers and how quickly they’re getting results. One of the most remarkable stories is our CEF initiative, which supports municipalities and their partners to support home energy retrofits. Since launching CEF in March 2020, we now have 13 programs in place with municipalities, to the tune of $90M in capital.  Just two years ago only 3-4 such programs existing across the country. And in 2020-2021 alone, SAH has approved funding for 33 net-zero affordable housing projects, partnerships with affordable housing organizations to support new project development, plus case studies and data to shine the light on the highest opportunity areas. 

The power of a well-managed fund, our proven GMF program model and a focus on capacity building to accelerate the path to Net Zero cannot be overstated. 

Our product approach works. For SAH and CEF, we took the best aspects of GMF programs, brought in experts to inform the design and honed our eligibility criteria. We also ran a strong promotional campaign to reinforce wider FCM messaging to municipalities that there are high-impact actions they can take now in both project funding and capacity building. And they were ready to heed the call. 

A (pleasantly) surprising level of resilience 

At the end of fiscal year 2019, we knew that launching our new offers, with their ambitious activation timelines and GHG reduction targets, was bold. To do it as a pandemic hit was … unexpected, to say the least. Yet, as we reached the end of the 2020 fiscal year, we had an overwhelming sense of hitting several home runs in the middle of a hurricane.  

Our worries that municipalities would need to disengage were unfounded: We’ve had record-setting demand for our funding offers. Plus, our team is more confident than ever about wading into new challenges. It turns out that relevance and resilience is a heady and energizing combination. Read on to find out what we’ve accomplished in new initiatives that are already proving themselves worthy of replication, as well as continued success in our core funding offers (see ‘Our impact in 2020-2021’ in section).

Low Carbon Cities Canada (LC3) 

Learn more

Sustainable Affordable Housing (SAH)

Learn more

Community Efficiency Financing (CEF)

Learn more

New funding: Community Buildings Retrofit (CBR)

Learn more

Circular Cities and Regions Initiatives (CCRI)

Learn more

Our core funding offer

Learn more

Sustainable Communities Conference

Learn more

Success stories

At GMF, we’ve long led the way in supporting innovative sustainability solutions that were too far outside the mainstream for other funders. By relying on evidence and scalability, we’ve found a responsible way to support the scale up of low- and zero-emission solutions that are highly successful and replicable. Here we highlight success stories from three of our priority project types: district energy, zero emissions vehicles and landfills.

Environmental, Economic and Social benefits

Our impact in 2020-2021

Environmental benefits

Environmental targets are still the main pillar in the triple-bottom-line approach we take to all GMF-funded initiatives. In the past two decades, we’ve had a significant impact in all our target sectors. Our successes demonstrate Canada’s ability to meet its climate targets if we have the resources to broaden the reach of our work.  

Below are the environmental impacts of GMF-funded projects that have reported their results since the program’s inception. 

GHG reductions

2.75 million

 tonnes of GHG emissions avoided

Energy savings


GJ of energy savings per year.

Wastewater and drinking water treated


cubic metres of water treated per year.

Water saved


cubic metres of water saved per year.

Waste diverted from landfill


tonnes of waste diverted per year.

Media managed


cubic metres of media (soil, groundwater and sediment) managed.

Land reclaimed


hectares of land reclaimed.

Solid waste treated


cubic metres of waste treated.

Equivalent to taking 843,558 cars off the road.

Equivalent to one year of power for 159 arenas.

Equivalent to 107,471 Olympic-size swimming pools.

Equivalent to the amount of potable water consumed in the City of Charlottetown in 2.7 months.

Equivalent to 20,269 full-sized school buses.

Equivalent to 4,900 shipping containers.

Equivalent to 158 football fields.

Equivalent to 15 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

Economic benefits

In a post-pandemic world, the links between implementing sustainable solutions and the economy are crystal clear. A green recovery would bring unparalleled economic benefits to every municipality across the country. The return on every federal dollar invested in GMF has always been unmatched. Now’s the time to take what we’ve learned and deepen that investment. 

In the data below, we used the Local Economic Development (LED) model to calculate the economic impact of our investments in plans, studies, pilots and capital projects. 

Since inception

total number of initiatives completed


Financial leverage

Below is the financial leverage of completed projects across the country for the 950 initiatives in which our investment represented at least 30% of the project’s total value (all numbers include direct and indirect results, but induced effects are not included):

$1,1 B

of national GDP


person-years of national employment

$629 M

of national wages and salaries paid to households

Social benefits

It’s not always easy to quantify social benefits, but they’re an increasingly important part of our work at GMF. Our offerings benefit entire communities, including vulnerable populations, and we're currently broadening the scope of socially focused aspects of our programs. No one should be left behind as every Canadian municipality moves toward more sustainable solutions.

Community centres, cultural centres, and libraries


capital projects



Social benefits

  • Improves quality of life
  • Strengthens community ties
  • Supports cultural vitality
  • Preserves heritage
  • Supports educational activities
  • Provides local employment and volunteer positions

Recreation centres, pools, and ice rinks


capital projects



Social benefits

  • Promotes public health through physical activity
  • Improves local quality of life
  • Promotes economic growth through events and visitors


Affordable housing


capital projects



Social benefits

  • Creates welcoming places to live, work and start a business
  • Helps address poverty
  • Provides security and comfort to vulnerable populations
  • Retains workers and attracts newcomers
  • Enriches neighbourhoods and drives economic growth

Active transportation


capital projects



Social benefits

  • Improves public health through physical activity
  • Improves public safety
  • Boosts community pride

GMF’s impact across Canada: By the numbers

Balance matters, especially when it comes to distributing GMF funds and enabling sustainable solutions across Canada. We must never let location and size be barriers to reaching Canada’s 2050 climate targets in every Canadian municipality.  

Below is information about the sectors in which we work, and how our funding breaks down in terms of regions and urban-rural distribution. 

Distribution by sector and priority initiatives

Our work in five sectors is accelerating the transition to more sustainable solutions for Canadian municipalities: 

Land use

% of funding distribution

Regional distribution of GMF funding

We tracked the regional distribution of loans and grants for sustainable community plans, feasibility studies, pilot projects and capital projects in 2020-2021: 


% of population


Total $ (grants & loans)


% of total (grants & loans)


Total net approved since inception*

Total $ (grants & loans)


% of total $


*Total net approved since inception includes the original board-approved amount plus any additional approved amount, less the amounts withdrawn, closed or cancelled.


% of population


Total $ (grants & loans)


% of total (grants & loans)


Total net approved since inception*

Total $ (grants & loans)


% of total $


*Total net approved since inception includes the original board-approved amount plus any additional approved amount, less the amounts withdrawn, closed or cancelled.


% of population


Total $ (grants & loans)


% of total (grants & loans)


Total net approved since inception*

Total $ (grants & loans)


% of total $


*Total net approved since inception includes the original board-approved amount plus any additional approved amount, less the amounts withdrawn, closed or cancelled.


% of population


Total $ (grants & loans)


% of total (grants & loans)


Total net approved since inception*

Total $ (grants & loans)


% of total $


*Total net approved since inception includes the original board-approved amount plus any additional approved amount, less the amounts withdrawn, closed or cancelled.


% of population


Total $ (grants & loans)


% of total (grants & loans)


Total net approved since inception*

Total $ (grants & loans)


% of total $


*Total net approved since inception includes the original board-approved amount plus any additional approved amount, less the amounts withdrawn, closed or cancelled.


% of population


Total $ (grants & loans)


% of total (grants & loans)


Total net approved since inception*

Total $ (grants & loans)


% of total $


*Total net approved since inception includes the original board-approved amount plus any additional approved amount, less the amounts withdrawn, closed or cancelled.

Breakdown by province/territory

All numbers include direct and indirect results, but induced effects are not included.

British Columbia

  • Number of projects completed: 223
  • $226.1M GDP
  • 2,439 person-years of national employment


  • Number of projects completed: 120
  • $92.3M GDP
  • 830 person-years of national employment


  • Number of projects completed: 47
  • $14.9M GDP
  • 159 person-years of national employment


  • Number of projects completed: 44
  • $31.3M GDP
  • 369 person-years of national employment


  • Number of projects completed: 408
  • $384.3M GDP
  • 4,560 person-years of national employment


  • Number of projects completed: 238
  • $187.7M GDP
  • 2,253 person-years of national employment

Atlantic (NB, NL, NS, PE)

  • Number of projects completed: 139
  • $156M GDP
  • 2,264 person-years of national employment

Territories (YT, NU, NWT)

  • Number of projects completed: 24
  • $3.1M GDP
  • 35 person-years of national employment

Urban-rural balance of all approved initiatives

The chart below includes the urban-rural distribution of loans and grants for sustainable community plans, feasibility studies, pilot projects and capital projects:

% of population
19% Small, rural and remote municipalities
81% Towns and cities


2020-2021 funding breakdown

Total  grants & loans ($)
$30,717,990 Small, rural and remote communities
$138,723,261 Towns and cities
% of total $
16% Small, rural and remote communities
84% Towns and cities

Total net approved since inception*

Total grants & loans ($)
$246,807,111 Small, rural and remote communities
$853,794,248 Towns and cities
% of total $
14% Small, rural and remote communities
86% Towns and cities

The FCM ecosystem and Canada's fight against climate change

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) unites and convenes more than 2,000 municipalities across Canada, representing more than 90 percent of Canadians. Our membership consists of urban, rural, northern and remote communities of all sizes.

  • A proven partner for environmental programs

    FCM is deeply committed to climate action and sustainability, as evidenced by the spectrum of its advocacy and programming work. GMF’s role in helping FCM fulfill its commitment to fighting climate change becomes stronger and more relevant with every passing year.

    From its inception, GMF has been a direct response to FCM’s members’ needs. The FCM team co-created GMF with its members in response to their heightened sense of urgency around a lack of sustainable infrastructure funding.

    GMF has proven itself more than able to deliver highly successful programs to these municipalities and push the envelope on what is possible in terms of solutions. In fact, we were the first federally funded program to require net zero as the starting point for applicants. What’s more, we’re a well-managed endowment whose dividends fund programs and increase the total funds we can invest in communities across Canada. We’ll be a reliable funder for years to come. None of this would be possible without FCM’s ability to successfully advocate on behalf of municipalities’ interests, be they funding or policy-based.

  • Working in step with municipal planning

    Municipalities want to help Canada meet its net-zero emission targets by 2050. But they also face immediate needs and budget cycles they may have inherited. FCM understands these complexities, and through GMF, is working on solutions.

    A major part of our work involves helping municipalities understand the business case for more sustainable solutions, and plan their projects over time. When municipalities plan years in advance, their revenue is better able to support the burden of the renewal cycles. Put another way, if renewal cycles are out of sync with a municipality’s financial position, they may make choices that make it harder to reach their emission targets down the road. For example, if a municipality doesn’t plan for sustainable solutions, it may end up installing a boiler system in its local arena when the old one breaks down, locking it into a poor carbon emissions profile for years to come. We want to step in and offer help before that happens so that end of life replacement delivers the best performing infrastructure for that community long-term.

    That’s why several FCM programs, including GMF, focus on clarifying the business case for sustainable solutions, and helping municipalities integrate climate considerations into their planning processes (e.g., Municipal Asset Management Program, Municipalities for Climate Innovation Program). This long-view approach is critical if FCM is going to help municipalities reach climate change goals that are only a couple of decades away.

  • Accelerating transformation, replication and capacity

    GMF has long been known for responsibly supporting innovative sustainability solutions​ that couldn’t gain traction with more mainstream funders. In our early years, the possibilities were wide open in terms of what we funded. We needed to learn where we could have the greatest impact: which solutions could be successful and scaled. For years, we’ve worked to boost innovation and buy down risk simultaneously.

    Now, with a mountain of project data and evidence in our case studies, projects and experiences, we know where to target our efforts. What’s more, we know how to get things done. We pair capacity building with our funding to get a more effective outcome than with funding alone. Today, we can help the Federal Government identify high impact local initiatives that have demonstrated success for GMF clients, that together put us on track towards our national climate targets, while providing the funding, information and support to the municipalities delivering on these project.

    Having practical, high-impact solutions and a business case for sustainable solutions has made us a forward-thinking program.​ And right now, what’s on our minds — and those of FCM’s member municipalities — is mobilizing and replicating what works as quickly as possible.

    We want to accelerate the pace of change at just the right time. FCM’s member municipalities have an increasing sense of urgency around climate change, both in terms of mitigation and adaptation. GMF supports them with solutions on both fronts, while FCM takes up their issue through its advocacy work.

  • A three-pronged (and more equitable) approach

    GMF’s triple bottom line approach is an integral part of our history and foundational to our work. It garners impressive economic, environmental and social outcomes for many GMF-funded initiatives. Consider, for instance, that funding a net-zero affordable housing project yields results in all three areas.

    In recent years, we’ve reflected this approach more clearly in every GMF program we undertake, as part of our broader alignment with FCM. Though FCM casts a wider net in terms of the issues it addresses, FCM also uses this triple bottom line approach.

    Recently, FCM and GMF have both ramped up efforts in terms of equity, diversity and inclusion. That means promoting solutions that address a whole community’s needs. So, for example, when we advocate and plan for parks in our urban cores such as with the Vancouver Evergreen project, they must serve everyone: children, adults, families, the elderly, people with physical disabilities and those who experience homelessness.

    We’ve shown through both our SAH and CEF initiatives that we can help municipalities make housing gains across wide socio-economic brackets in their communities. FCM’s programs are adjusting to better serve this commitment to equitable and inclusive planning. We know that socially inclusive solutions are possible.

    We see a critical mass of awareness, willingness to act, and resources all coming together to activate a truly just and resilient future for Canadian municipalities. Together, FCM and GMF are mobilizing resources and creating pathways to net-zero carbon emissions. And together, we’ll help Canada reach its climate change goals.

  • Municipalities for Climate Innovation Program (MCIP) winds down

    As MCIP heads into its final year, we continue to support municipalities that made great strides through the program, enabling them and their partners to stay connected and keep taking strong, local, climate action. We’re building bridges so no municipalities are left behind. 

    MCIP took a broad approach by providing municipal grants for projects across the climate spectrum, including mitigation and adaptation. The new GMF programs are taking a targeted funding approach and are applying lessons learned through MCIP’s success. The SAH’s Regional Energy Coaches, for example, build on the MCIP and Partners for Climate Protection (PCP) model that was used to create the Regional Climate Advisors. 

    Both GMF’s core funding offer and MCIP rely heavily on a partnership of capacity-building. The work of the PCP program, whose core funding is from GMF and whose Regional Climate Advisors were funded by MCIP, is a great example of our cohesive understanding of the importance of localized and contextual capacity building.  

Key result area achievements

We’re at the half-way point in fulfilling our 2018–2023 strategic plan. It’s the signpost for everything we do, from selecting partnerships to designing funding offers to building capacity. Aligning our activities with the key result areas (KRAs) in the strategic plan helps us deliver on our promise to responsibly disburse funds and build capacity in municipalities that are moving sustainable initiatives forward. We’ve summed up the past fiscal year below. 

Building resilient communities

The future we want

The Future we want

We went into this year saying, “We think we can.” We ended it saying, “We did.” And we’re ready to do it again in the coming year. 

It was a surprising year in so many ways, and we feel more prepared than ever to face the future and take on bold challenges. In spite of the COVID-19 pandemic, our team at GMF continued to play its part in helping Canada meet its commitment to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. We kept our purpose front and centre: accelerate Canadian municipalities' transition to sustainable solutions. 

We’re now running a $1B endowment. We’ve demonstrated that we can create and launch programs quickly and effectively, with stellar results. And now, we’re turning our thoughts to the future we want, the future we will build together with Canadian municipalities.  

As Canada begins its post-pandemic recovery, we’re dedicated to implementing solutions that will make the country more resilient to the next threat, whatever form it takes, from a virus to extreme weather. We look to a green and socially just recovery, one that will begin in communities large and small, as they increasingly invest in efficient public transit, scale up proven local initiatives that reduce GHG emissions and build out their resilience to climate change. They’ll do all this while creating jobs and moving Canada closer to a net-zero emissions economy. 

We will support the residential retrofit economy by seeding pioneering programs across the country. And we will continue to enable sustainable affordable housing for at-risk and vulnerable populations — both reducing their cost of living and improving their quality of life.  

A prosperous future is possible in every region of Canada, economically, environmentally and socially. The Iqaluit Aquatic Centre, built a few years ago with support from GMF, is now a thriving community hub that improves physical, social and cultural health. We imagine projects like this in every community across Canada that can demonstrate and achieve a green, inclusive and socially just vision of the future.  

Widening our gaze, we are searching out opportunities for deep emissions reductions, such as landfill gas capture and conversion to fuels and energy. Stemming from our achievements in the built environment, we are starting to consider how we can weave initiatives like district energy or municipal zero emission fleets more deeply into our work. We’ll keep exploring how to apply an equity, diversity and inclusion lens into all of our programming, and we commit to using our years of knowledge around principled program activation to integrate these pillars into our programming. 

Across the country, communities are gearing up for life after COVID-19. They’re working to enhance the quality of their air, water and land, and ensure sustainable levels of service and community prosperity. And GMF will be with them every step of the way.

Forward together.