Green Mu­nic­i­pal Fund meets with municipalities across North­ern Penin­sula

Man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Chris Boivin learns about is­sues fac­ing com­mu­ni­ties

Northern Pen - - EDITORIAL - BY STEPHEN ROBERTS NORTH­ERN PENIN­SULA, NL

A visit from the Green Mu­nic­i­pal Fund has mu­nic­i­pal lead­ers hope­ful for green ini­tia­tives on the North­ern Penin­sula.

Chris Boivin, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of the GMF, vis­ited the North­ern Penin­sula Sept. 5 and 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 more than 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.

STEPHEN ROBERTS/THE NORTH­ERN PEN PHOTO

Chris Boivin (cen­tre), man­ag­ing di­rect of the Green Mu­nic­i­pal Fund, met with coun­cils on the North­ern Penin­sula dur­ing his visit, in­clud­ing Rod­dick­ton-Bide Arm Mayor Sheila Fitzger­ald and St. An­thony Coun. Des­mond McDon­ald.

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