Municipal GHG Challenge Fund Opening Doors to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

A new Municipal GHG Challenge Fund is a federally-funded and provincially administered program designed to help the province meet its greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction targets. This is an exciting opportunity for municipalities to receive substantial funding. The way it works is simple: municipalities can apply for funding through the GHG Municipal Challenge Fund website found here if they have a project of any size that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Any Ontario municipality may qualify – so long as the proposed project has a measurable reduction in GHG emissions for the province.

There is about $100 million slated for this year and it will likely repeat yearly. Financing is available for up to 100% of costs, but priority is given for projects that provide up to 50% of funding. Financing is available for capital/construction costs of implementing the project – but not for planning or document procurement. Municipalities must apply by November 14 this year, and will know if their project has been funded by February 2018. Projects that reduce GHG emissions that are currently underway can still apply for funding, subject to some restrictions.

Municipalities that wish to apply must have three things (unless they are a very-small municipality or a northern municipality where there is more flexibility):

  • Community-wide Greenhouse Gas (GHG) inventory;
  • Community-wide GHG emissions reduction target;
  • And Community-wide strategy/plan to reduce GHG emissions.

These things must be provided along with the application and calculations detailing the amount of greenhouse gas emissions the project will reduce. Details about all of these things can be found at the previously mentioned website.

A recent update on the government funding site notes that many municipalities are interested in the funding but do not have these items completed. As the interest in the fund is quite high…

“the eligibility requirements for the first round of funding will be opened to allow all municipalities to apply, so long as applicants demonstrate a commitment to completing their community-wide GHG inventory, targets and plan within 18 months, through a council resolution. If approved for funding, the council resolution must occur before the transfer payment agreement is completed.”

All applications will be scored according to the program criteria, and if theses items are not included in the submission, it will impact the applicants score in the “Alignment with Municipal GHG Planning” section.

Funding has very few limitations – any size and scale is allowed. Some examples provided during a webinar included replacing vehicle fleets with lower emissions equivalents, replacing recreation center heating systems with biofuel boilers, implementing a bike-sharing program, building solar farms to replacing other power generation facilities or upgrading a facility to improve its efficiency. There are very few restrictions beyond lowering the net emissions produced by a given municipality.

Applications are due November 14th; if your municipality has a project in mind, but need assistance calculating GHG reductions, making a community GHG inventory or other planning elements around submitting your proposal give us a call. Cambium’s engineers and technicians can help create these documents. Check our Environmental Compliance Approval Services page for a listing of the services.

Online Tool will help Municipalities Manage Excess Soils

The Importance of Managing Excess Soils

As Ontario continues to rapidly develop and cities continue to expand, the management of soils being excavated from developments and construction projects have to be considered. Excess soils are both a useful economic resource and a growing problem due to the sheer amount being moved. Excess soils have many uses such as constructing embankments, leveling or raising ground, commercial fills, agriculture etc. As useful as it  may be, it is not without its fair share of issues; soils may be of very different types and consistencies, be contaminated with pollutants, contain invasive species, be of generally low quality or be inappropriate for use in environmentally sensitive areas.

These issues are very detailed and specific which can make it quite difficult for municipalities to create By-Laws or regulations on the use of excess soils – something that may be very important for local sustainability and environmental damage control. Due to this issue the Canadian Urban Institute has created an online tool for municipalities to use for the creation of excess soils By-Laws simply and easily. The tool provides an easy-to-use interface and provides the language, structure, technical details and examples on excess soils for the creation of By-Laws. This new development should help to improve excess soil management greatly – which in turn will help to protect human health and protect the natural environment.

Cambium offers soils handling services and our goal is to provide a viable and feasible approach that satisfies landowners, developers, municipalities, and conservation authorities in maintaining the integrity and functionality of the natural systems. Give us a call if you have any questions about excess soils or would like further information about our services.

Environmental Activity and Sector Registry: How will the Air Emissions EASR Impact Your Facility

A guide to the new Environmental Activity and Sector Registry

Sadie Bachynski, Project Manager with Cambium, has written a blog to answer a number of questions about what the Environmental Activity and Sector Registry (EASR) is, who it applies to and what it means to your operations.

What is the EASR?

After quite an extensive process of public consultations and stakeholder input, the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) is now operating the Environmental Activity and Sector Registry (EASR). The purpose of this new registry system is to provide a streamlined and easy approach to registering an activity that an individual or facility might be engaged in that releases any type of emission into the natural environment – as is required by the MOECC. Emissions may include air, noise and odourous emissions from a given site. This new system is an easy-to-access registry that can be found online on the Service Ontario website.

The idea behind this new system is fairly straightforward: if a person or business is emitting anything into the natural environment they must self-register online before they do so. The government of Ontario website puts this as: “O. Reg. 1/17 requires persons engaging in activities that discharge or may discharge contaminants to the natural environment, other than water, to register in the EASR unless the activities do not meet the criteria in the Regulation”.

Who does this apply to?

New and existing facilities are required to register if they make any modification to their emissions related activity. In essence this is a phasing out of the existing ECA process; however, if a person or business submitted an application for an activity outlined in O. Reg 1/17 on or before December 31, 2016 they will have the option of remaining in the current ECA process or withdraw their application and instead register with the EASR. If a facility receives an ECA process approval, the facility will have to register with the EASR by January 31, 2027 or when the modification to the facility/activity occurs. In essence, the MOECC is looking to phase out the ECA process for eligible EASR facilities by 2027 completely.

One of the major criterions of those who must apply to the EASR is the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code that they report under – these have carefully been assessed for potential environmental impact. Another major criterion is the complexity of the operations/activity being performed. In essence, anyone is eligible – unless the activity/operation in question is complex in nature and deemed to be a “potentially heavy emitter”. Complex operations remain under the realm of requiring an Environmental Compliance Approval from the MOECC. For more details on who is and is not eligible, see the link below to the full Regulation outline.

 

What does this mean for reporting?

This in no way alters the way a facility would have to assess, model, and even report on the air, noise and odour emissions. Nothing has changed in regards to registering – it is essentially the same as it would be for a full ECA in the sense that you still require full reports (or at least the associated screening to say that a report is not required). One difference is that the work is now to be signed off on by a professional engineer independent of the MOECC rather than by the MOECC. Specific documents related to a facility’s emissions of air, noise and odour will have to be supplied to the Ministry and the public and the detailed reports and any addendums made over time are to be kept at the facility.

 

Design Choices to Make a Community Walking and Cycling Friendly

Robert Voigt, an Ontario Professional Planner, and Cambium’s Senior  Project Manager of Community Development Services worked with the Town of Gravenhurst to develop an Age Friendly Active Transportation Plan.  The goal was to craft an action plan that would identify opportunities to make the community more walking and cycling friendly.

Rob developed a series of videos as a creative component of the community engagement process that highlight some components of an active transportation plan that can make any community more walking and cycling friendly.

Active Transportation Plans

Active Transportation plans are not just about networks and building infrastructure. It is about working with what you have and the capacity of the citizens and the municipality.  The video series  looks at:

  • Sidewalks – addressing connections and links to ensure the safety of pedestrians
  • Connections – connecting sidewalks and recreational trails to support active lifestyle and support people who want to get around on their own.
  • Street and Trees – street trees can make an environment more walking and cycling friendly.
  • Parklets and Pocket Parks – a great ways to enhance a business environment and make it more walking and cycling friendly.
  • Curb Extensions –health and safety of pedestrians and drivers.
  • Traffic Signals – important aspects of traffic signals to support accessibility.
  • Links to Roads and Sidewalks – connections between sidewalks and roads are a high priority to make it easier for people to navigate around the community.
  • Parking Areas and Connections – simple design choices to make parking areas and connections between developments active transportation and all ages friendly.
  • Bike Lanes – dedicates environments to safely ride bikes and support cyclists.
  • Community Design – landscaping, seating, and blank building walls should be considered at the community design stage to make environments more comfortable to walk.
  • Complete streets – consider all modes of transportation when designing and redeveloping streets to make it safer for everyone.

Rob Voigt is a Registered Professional Planner with over 17 years of experience in Canada and the US. His specialization lies in placemaking, citizen engagement, healthy community design, and active transportation. If you are looking at your community needs and have questions about active transportation  plans and healthy community design, connect with Rob and he can help navigate the process.