A new $200 million Natural Infrastructure Fund has been announced by Infrastructure and Communities Minister Catherine McKenna and Toronto Mayor John Tory.
Under this new program, the first of its kind at the federal level, up to $120 million will be invested in large natural infrastructure projects. The new program will support projects that use natural or hybrid approaches to protect the natural environment, support healthy and resilient communities, contribute to economic growth, and improve access to nature for Canadians.
“Now more than ever, Canadians know the positive impact nature can have on our physical and mental well-being, but not all communities have access to local green space,” said Catherine McKenna, minister of infrastructure and communities. “That’s why the Government is creating a new, $200 million Natural Infrastructure Fund.”
“As a part of this fund, up to $20 million 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,” added McKenna. “Through this investment we’re creating good jobs, kickstarting the economy, and building cleaner, more inclusive communities.”
Cities across Canada are showing great leadership when it comes to investing in natural areas and reducing reliance on built infrastructure. As a part of the Fund’s Large Project Stream, select major cities with innovative natural infrastructure strategies will be invited to apply for funding to up to $20 million, including the City of Toronto.
As highlighted in Budget 2021, the City of Toronto is a leader in natural infrastructure solutions through its innovative and community-driven Ravine Strategy. The strategy aims to protect, manage, and enhance the ecological services and recreational opportunities provided by an urban ravine network spanning more than 300 kilometres, including in areas where the surrounding neighbourhoods have limited access to green space.
“The federal government are strong partners for our city and have continuously helped us move forward in building up Toronto,” said John Tory, mayor of Toronto. “The $20 million funding for our City’s Ravine Strategy through the Natural infrastructure Fund will help us further advance our goals of building a greener city. 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.”
In the coming weeks, more details will be announced about the Large Projects Stream. Upon receipt and approval of application, projects will be eligible to receive up to $20 million. An additional stream will be created under which recipients may submit smaller projects for review through an open and merit-based process. A minimum of ten per cent of the overall program envelope will be allocated to Indigenous recipients.
Natural infrastructure, particularly in urban areas, creates a connection to nature that contributes to wellness and mental health, and increased access to green spaces promote recreation and social connection. It is a key part of Canada’s economic recovery from the pandemic and commitment to one million jobs, and will help make our communities more resilient to climate change while enhancing access to nature and healthy living.
The Government of Canada is committed to getting funding to communities when they need it the most in a way that achieves triple benefits: grow our economy and create jobs; tackle climate change; and build a more resilient and inclusive country for all Canadians.