Chris Boivin, managing director of the GMF, visited the Northern Peninsula Sept. 5-6.
The GMF is a Federation of Municipalities Canada program that uses its cash endowment to fund environmental and sustainability projects for communities throughout the country.
Boivin familiarized himself with a number of the challenges facing communities on the Northern Peninsula with the help of Roddickton-Bide Arm Mayor Sheila Fitzgerald as a guide.
Fitzgerald is also on the GMF council.
Boivin has spent the past month and a half driving across Canada in order to get a sense of the needs of communities.
He wanted to get first-hand experience of what the issues are and where they may be able to most help in regions such as the Northern Peninsula.
“We wanted to make sure that we captured the smaller communities, those that are maybe a little more far afield than we might see in southern Ontario and so on,” he said. “And also, because there’s a feeling they might be a little less served by the fund, or have tapped into the fund a little bit less on a proportional basis than other regions.”
“By bringing him into the community, he gets a chance to actually see it, to talk to the people, to hear from the elected officials first-hand what it’s like to live in these small communities and some of the challenges,” added Fitzgerald.
She says meeting with Boivin was also an opportunity for them to learn about the kind of funding that is available to small towns.
According to Fitzgerald, wastewater, for example, is a big issue for municipalities in the area.
“How do we creatively find solutions to treat our wastewater without building these great big infrastructures that we can’t afford to keep,” she said. “So hopefully there’s lots of magic solutions happening in places across Canada that we just didn’t know about.”
Fitzgerald believes that energy efficiency is also something they need to think about more in the region.
Something that Boivin says has struck him during the visit is how collaborative the communities are on the Northern Peninsula.
“To me, it speaks to opportunities to have these communities partner up to solve common problems,” he said.
According to Boivin, this is something that helps the GMF as they don’t look for one-off solutions, but solutions that will solve broader challenges.
“The biggest thing from our perspective is the fact that the GMF is out there, it’s available for all municipalities of all sizes, all demographics, and I think the onus is on the municipalities and the leaders of the communities to come up with innovative green ideas that we can work with Chris on,” said St. Anthony Town manager Curtis Richards. “Whether they’re regional in scope or local in scope, I think there’s some great opportunities and we need to find what they are and we need to look to work with the Green Municipal Fund and its employees and staff to see if we can better our communities for our children’s sake.”
In the past, St. Anthony council has looked into wind energy, solar energy, hydroponics and Richards says now they have a contact to look into these things thanks to Boivin’s visit.
Boivin says the GMF can fund feasibility studies, plans, pilot projects, and full-scale demonstration and capital projects.
They’ve funded over 1,000 projects and all of them can be found on their website with details about the projects.
Boivin advises the public and municipal leaders that they can go on there and learn about these projects to get ideas for their own communities.
“We are a phone call away if folks would like to dig in further on some of those projects and receive some guidance on how to construct a project that can be supported at the end of the day,” he said.