Seizing opportunity: How to leverage new federal grants for municipalities

April 25, 2017 Karen Stewart

In early 2017, the Honourable Amarjeet Sohi, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ (FCM) President, Clark Somerville announced two new grant programs that will help address climate change and strengthen infrastructure planning and decision-making. Find out how your municipality can make the most of these programs.

From working with numerous municipalities across Canada, I’ve learned that many aspire to become a livable, sustainable and well-run municipality.  Initiatives such as effectively managing aging infrastructure or adapting to climate change are what make some of these goals a reality. Funding is usually the largest barrier to moving forward with these initiatives.

This is why I was happy to hear that over the next 5 years, the Municipalities for Climate Innovation Program ($75 million) and the Municipal Asset Management Program ($50 million) will be offered by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) and funded by the Government of Canada.  These programs will provide municipalities with access to funding, training and learning opportunities to increase their capacity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, build resilience to the impacts of climate change and support better planning and management of municipal infrastructure. These are valuable opportunities that can provide a fundamental base for municipalities to attain their aspirations.

Obviously, municipalities that apply and receive grant funding can move forward and attain their goals faster than those that don’t. And why should you not apply for the grant? It can only be a win-win situation for your municipality and your constituents.

Regardless of whether you need funding to help your community adapt to climate change, reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions or maintain aging infrastructure, while also creating new services and systems to meet your community’s needs, these programs can help you. And if you’ve already budgeted for asset management projects before these programs were announced, you can still apply for the grant and use your budget for other value-added activities.

What projects are eligible for funding?

Watch this FCM video to discover why you should invest in asset management.

Through FCM's new Municipalities for Climate Innovation Program, municipalities can access funding of up to $175,000 to support eligible asset management initiatives. If your municipality has a strong commitment to climate action and want to integrate climate change goals into your asset management planning, then you should apply for this program.

The program has two phases:

Phase 1 focuses on projects that develop or refresh an asset management policy, strategy and governance framework for your municipality. These projects are intended to enable you to take a municipality-wide approach to asset management.

Phase 2 focuses on risk assessment, levels of service or lifecycle management projects. This phase is optional and is intended for municipalities that would like to strengthen specific aspects of asset management planning to better incorporate climate risks and environmental, social and economic sustainability considerations. 

There are a lot of ways for you to receive funding for your community’s needs. For example, you can apply to receive funding for these types of projects:

Using GIS for effective asset management

While funding is usually the largest barrier to moving forward with initiatives, the second largest is process. To successfully implement municipal initiatives, the use of data and collaboration across departments are often required, which can be easily addressed by using the right technology.

Geographic information systems (GIS) are valuable technology for streamlining asset management workflows. You can use GIS to help your municipality adopt good asset management practices, including:

  • creating sustainable, repeatable and integrated processes

  • collecting data to analyze the health of your existing infrastructure

  • developing governance models

  • implementing plans and processes to maintain your built and natural assets

  • developing plans to manage and sustain your critical assets based on dependencies

There are many ways you can use FCM’s grant funding to advance your asset management initiatives. Esri Canada provides software and services that can help you establish an effective asset management system. While this is not an exhaustive list, here are some ideas to help you get started:

You can review my full analysis of the cost categories, eligible costs and potential use cases for Esri Canada’s product and service offerings.  Read more information about eligible projects and apply to join the FCM’s Climate and Asset Management Network.  The application deadline is June 15 so get started today.

If you need help creating a detailed plan for your GIS-based asset management or climate innovation project, contact me at kstewart@esri.ca.  If you’d like to share your plans, successes or other information on this subject, leave a comment below.

About the Author

Karen Stewart

As the Municipal Solutions Industry Manager at Esri Canada, Karen has helped numerous municipalities across Canada review and improve their smart communities, open data, GIS, asset management and public works strategies. Along with a Bachelor of Technology degree in Geomatics Engineering, she’s a registered AScT in Geomatics through ASTTBC and a Certified GIS Professional (GISP) with nearly three decades of experience. In the community, Karen serves as the Secretary/Treasurer on the board of directors for the Public Works Association BC Chapter (PWABC). Communication and creative expression are important to Karen, and you’ll likely find her out in the serenity of nature sketching or painting in her spare time.

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