Toronto, Ontario, June 25, 2021—Across the country, Canadians are feeling the impacts of COVID-19, on their families, their livelihoods, and their way of life. The pandemic has amplified the need for Canadians to have greater access to local parks, green spaces and waterfronts. In addition, the increasing severity of weather events and impacts of climate change on municipalities has created a greater need for adaptation measures. The Government of Canada is committed to supporting families and communities to ensure community infrastructure is safe and reliable, while protecting people from the effects of climate change, creating economic opportunities, and improving quality of life.
Today, the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities was joined by John Tory, Mayor of Toronto, to announce a new, $200 million Natural Infrastructure Fund. 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.
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, which 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.
In the coming weeks, further 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.