A new $200-million Natural Infrastructure Fund is set to invest in large-scale projects that use natural or hybrid approaches to protect the environment.
As part of the fund’s Large Project Stream, select major cities with innovative natural infrastructure strategies will be invited to apply for up to $20 million, the government announced. While more details are expected in the weeks to come, the projects should improve well-being, mitigate the impacts of climate change, and prevent costly natural events.
Under the new Budget 2021 funding, Catherine McKenna, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, announced that up to $20 million from the new fund is available for the City of Toronto’s Ravine Strategy, which will “improve access to nature for residents, protect animals and species, and increase resilience to climate change,” she said. The strategy focuses on ravine areas with high levels of existing use and where the surrounding neighbourhoods have limited access to public or private greenspace.
“By proactively investing in our ravines we can ensure that we are protecting these spaces and enhancing them so future generations can continue to enjoy them,” Toronto Mayor John Tory announced in response to the new fund.
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Other examples of natural infrastructure strategies in Canada include the City of Vancouver’s Rain City Strategy and the City of Winnipeg’s Parks Strategy. The former uses natural solutions, such as absorbent landscaping, tree trenches and green roofs, to prevent urban flooding and improve water quality. It’s a strategy that aims to manage rainwater runoff from 40% of impervious areas by 2050, and capture and clean 90% of Vancouver’s average annual rainfall.
Other similar strategies that could receive funding include the City of Saskatoon’s Green Strategy and the City of Halifax’s Green Network Plan, the latter of which promotes the sustainable use of ecologically important green space, and enhances the use of land suited for outdoor recreation.
An additional stream will be created under the new fund for applicants to submit smaller projects for review through an open merit-based process. A minimum of 10% of the overall program envelope will be allocated to Indigenous recipients, according to Infrastructure Canada.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Infrastructure Canada has approved more than 3,600 projects, representing more than $9.9 billion in federal investments, under the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program.