All around us, environmental, economic and social alarm bells are ringing. Bold vision and audacious innovation are needed to chart the path to a future where individuals and communities can thrive, with clean air to breathe, safe water to drink, good jobs and reliable, equitable social supports. A future where we live, work and play in harmony with our natural environment. Since the inception of the Green Municipal Fund (GMF) more than 22 years ago, we have envisioned a future where all this is possible.
GMF’s 2021–2022 annual report, Inspiring Innovation, is more than an account of our year’s accomplishments. It examines the power and potential municipalities big and small have to transform our lives and the world around us to ensure a more sustainable and prosperous future. Seemingly audacious ideas often start with an unanswerable question, or a long-standing local challenge. With GMF’s help, they quickly grow into sustainable solutions that can be replicated coast-to-coast-to-coast to deliver triple-bottom-line benefits.
Throughout a year marked by an ongoing pandemic and devastating weather events, our team continued serving clients at every stage of the sustainability journey. We helped them build capacity and network to learn important lessons about what works and what doesn’t in sustainable initiatives. And when they’re ready, we provide the funding they need to put ideas into action.
Once again, we saw unprecedented demand for our funding, approving $137.4 million in loans and $74.6 million in grants. This represents a staggering pace of growth from our 2017–2018 fiscal year, in which we approved $45.3 million in loans and $13.7 million in grants (a 203 per cent increase in loans and a 446 per cent increase in grants).
One of the most remarkable stories is our Community Efficiency Financing (CEF) initiative, which supports municipalities and their partners to deliver home energy retrofits. Since launching CEF in March 2020, we now have programs in place with 29 municipalities, to the tune of $127.4 million in total grants and loans. These municipal programs have the potential to help homeowners reduce GHG emissions by 30–50 per cent in more than 5,000 single-family houses. Just three years ago only three or four such programs existed across the country.
And we asked, what’s next?
Part of the answer has involved leveraging feedback from communities and sustainability leaders to iterate the programs launched with the new funding entrusted to us by the Government of Canada in Budget 2019: Community Buildings Retrofits (CBR), Community Efficiency Financing (CEF), Sustainable Affordable Housing (SAH) and Low Carbon Cities Canada (LC3).
We’ve also started to examine our offers in the energy, land use, transportation, waste and water sectors to ensure they meet municipalities’ current and future needs and ambitions.
Our numbers tell the story. Municipalities are committed to reaching net-zero by 2050 and are accessing GMF services in record volumes to do so. And there is hope; support for ambitious climate action is growing steadily at the global, national and local levels.
By uniting with partners from all orders of government, as well as the private sector, GMF is proud to be part of a Canadian ecosystem inspiring innovation to create a sustainable and prosperous tomorrow.
Taneen Rudyk, FCM President, Councillor, Town of Vegreville, Alberta
Alan DeSousa, GMF Council Chair, Mayor of Saint-Laurent, Quebec