While it may be counter-intuitive, this autumn season is bringing an unfolding of fresh new leaves of the Low Carbon Cities Canada initiative, helped along by the first official meeting of the Low Carbon Cities Canada executive in Ottawa in September.
Low Carbon Cities Canada, or LC3 for short, is a partnership between seven local urban climate centres and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM). The initiative received funding support in the March 2019 federal budget as part of a new $950M funding stream provided to FCM’s Green Municipal Fund.
LC3 funding has now been received by FCM totaling $350M. It is dedicated to creating community climate action by supporting municipalities and other community constituents in accelerating low-carbon action at the local level. The funds will provide a $40 million top-up to TAF’s endowment and will create new endowments for six more urban climate centres across Canada, modelled after TAF. Local funding will be matched within 10 years to amp up the impact. There is also a $167 million allocation that will eventually expand the LC3 program to other Canadian communities.
Sharing diverse local expertise
What is super interesting is that all seven LC3 Centres – in the Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa, Montreal GTHA, and Halifax regions – will be hosted by different types of local non-government agencies, each with their own local flavour in terms of structure, governance and priority actions. With their own independent funding and local governance control – including representation from local government – the centres will be exceptionally well-positioned to respond to local issues and opportunities. At the same time, working in partnership with their counterparts across the country will allow them to take advantage of existing and emerging local centres of excellence in the low-carbon sphere and adapting these for their own use.
Already, different urban centres are taking leadership on various low-carbon approaches and actions:
- In Montreal, this could mean advancing electrification of transportation – starting with school buses
- In Vancouver, the emerging ZEBx initiative will be creating excellence in green building
- Alberta Ecotrust is advancing innovative direct partnerships with Calgary and Edmonton
- Halifax is leveraging an enviable conservation utility approach
- Ottawa is integrating the low-carbon work into the Ottawa Community Foundation
- In Toronto we are helping to support colleagues with low-carbon finance innovation
All these local ideas will be harvested, analyzed, and shared through a newly forming LC3 National Office housed at FCM, and co-directed by FCM and the seven local centres.
Building local impact investment capacity
We are very excited to be working within the Green Municipal Funds program to draw on FCM’s extensive expertise on local sustainability finance and to build impact investing experience across the nation. We are focused on creating conditions that attract private investment capital into climate-friendly actions, like energy efficiency retrofits and renewable natural gas. To prepare to receive their new endowment funds, LC3 centres will be setting up local investment committee, and preparing rigorous investment policies.
Of course, Rome wasn’t built in a day! But the leaves of LC3 will continue to flourish throughout the remainder of 2019, with behind-the-scenes work going on at the local level in all seven LC3 regions to set up the new organizations to be ready to invest in local community action. Meanwhile, using a disciplined partnership approach, the seven centres and FCM will continue to co-develop the national systems that will govern this work, and optimize the strengths of all the players.
On a personal note: To share TAF’s experience and help launch the LC3 initiative, I am very excited to be leveraging my 15 years at TAF by working temporarily (12-18 months) with FCM as Senior Advisor, Low Carbon Cities Canada. In close collaboration with FCM’s LC3 Program Director Kate Fleming, I will be helping to set up the LC3 National Office and assisting the new LC3 Centres to get started.