Canada’s Green Municipal Fund – Enabling Communities for Sustainability

Green Municipal Fund

Canada has long been committed to environmental sustainability and the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In line with these goals, the Federation of Canadian
Municipalities (FCM) launched the Green Municipal Fund (GMF) in 2000 to help municipalities in the development of thriving communities that benefit people and the  environment. Over the past two decades, the GMF has provided funding and support to municipalities across the country, driving innovative projects that address environmental challenges and promote sustainable development.

Since its inception, GMF has invested more than $1.25 billion into almost 2,000 municipal projects. it has also prevented the emission of 2.87 million Tonnes of GHG, facilitated the treatment of 287 million m³ of water per year, and saved 860,210 gigajoules of energy annually.

Eligible Applicants 

The Green Municipal Fund is accessible to municipalities and their partners across Canada. This includes all Canadian municipalities, ranging from small towns to major cities. Indigenous communities and organizations, as well as notfor-profit organizations and private-sector companies, can also access the fund in collaboration with municipalities. The inclusivity of GMF ensures that a wide spectrum of stakeholders can participate in shaping a greener future for their communities.

Available Funding 

The program started with an investment of CAD $1.65 billion from the Government of Canada. In budget 2019, the government announced an additional CAD 950 million of funding. Another investment of $530 million was made through the Government of Canada Climate Adaptation Action Plan to launch a new program.

GMF offers grants for municipal environmental projects. Loans are also available at a competitive rate, and most recipients receive an additional grant of up to 15% of their loan amount. Their investment can cover between 50 and 80% of your eligible project costs. Funding is available at every stage of your project:

  • Early-stage planning: you can get support for the beginning phases of a project
  • Plans: develop strategies to deliver environmental solutions in your community. The Green Municipal Fund provides funds for 2 types of plans: sustainable neighborhood action plan and community brownfield action plan
  • Studies: funding to assess whether your project is technically and financially possible. Feasibility studies include technical evaluations, site assessments, stakeholder engagement, and detailed project planning
  • Pilot project: test a small-scale version of your project in real-life conditions. Pilot projects include novel approaches that have yet to be tested in Canada
  • Capital projects: implement a full-scale version of your project. Capital projects include both natural and constructed physical infrastructure that provide a municipal service

Eligible Projects 

The GMF focuses on financing projects that address environmental challenges, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and enhance community sustainability. The fund supports
initiatives in various sectors, including the following:

  1. Renewable Energy Initiatives: Municipalities can use GMF funding to develop renewable energy projects such as solar panels, wind turbines, or hydroelectric facilities. These projects not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions but also contribute to local energy generation and economic development.
  2. Energy Efficiency Upgrades: GMF supports energy-efficient retrofits for municipal buildings, street lighting, and public facilities. These upgrades reduce energy consumption, lower operational costs, and set an example for the community.
  3. Waste Management and Recycling Programs: Initiatives focused on reducing waste generation, increasing recycling rates, and implementing composting programs can
    secure GMF funding. These projects reduce landfill waste and promote a circular economy.
  4. Public Transit and Active Transportation: GMF aids the expansion and improvement of public transit systems and infrastructure for walking and cycling. These initiatives help reduce traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions while promoting healthier and more sustainable modes of transportation.
  5. Green Infrastructure: Projects involving the development of green roofs, urban forests, and natural stormwater management systems are eligible for GMF support. These projects enhance urban resilience, improve air quality, and mitigate the urban heat island effect.

Examples of Successful Projects 

The impact of the Green Municipal Fund is evident in numerous successful projects that have transformed Canadian municipalities into more sustainable and resilient communities.
Here are a few noteworthy examples:

  • City of Brampton’s Susan Fennell Sportsplex: The city of Brampton received $10 million to support deep energy upgrades and measures to reduce GHG emissions at the facility. The retrofit upgrades are anticipated to reduce annual GHG emissions at the facility by 91%.
  • Vancouver’s Zero-Emission Building Plan: Vancouver used GMF support to develop and implement its ZeroEmission Building Plan. This initiative aims to reduce emissions
    from new buildings by requiring them to meet strict energy efficiency and renewable energy standards. Vancouver’s plan is now a model for sustainable urban development worldwide.
  • Toronto’s Green Roof Bylaw: Toronto implemented its Green Roof Bylaw with the assistance of GMF funding. This bylaw requires new commercial, industrial, and institutional buildings to include green roofs. As a result, Toronto has seen an increase in green roof installations, promoting energy efficiency and urban biodiversity.

The Green Municipal Fund in Canada plays a pivotal role in advancing environmental sustainability and supporting municipalities in their efforts to combat climate change. By
providing financial assistance to a wide range of projects and fostering partnerships among municipalities, Indigenous communities, and private organizations, GMF is contributing to a greener, more sustainable future for Canada. As Canada pursues its commitment to environmental stewardship and its goal of being net-zero by 2050, the Green Municipal Fund remains an essential resource to help communities realize their sustainable development aspirations.