The CleanBC Communities Fund for Cleaner and Stronger Communities is a collaboration between the Government of Canada and British Columbia. Together, they are offering funding grants for local projects that create energy-efficient infrastructures. The CleanBC Communities Fund for Cleaner and Stronger Communities is to ensure a cleaner, more energy efficient, and more resilient future for communities all across the beautiful province of British Columbia.
There have already been two prior rounds of funding under the program, and the total investment so far has exceeded $240 million. The third round of funding is allocating $135 million dollars in grants, which is far more than the previous two intakes. This third intake is open for applications between January 26th, 2022 and May 25, 2022. Approvals are expected to be announced in 2023, and projects should be completed by March 31, 2026
The third intake of the program is offering grants for projects that can provide measurable outcomes in one of four areas:
- Managing renewable energy
- Improving access to clean-energy transportation
- Improving the energy efficiency of buildings and community-owned infrastructure
- Generating clean energy to reduce community reliance on fossils fuels
Who Can Receive Funding?
This third round of funding is the LARGEST offering yet, and it is an enormous opportunity for communities in BC to build better, greener, low-carbon infrastructures. The funding is available to: Local governments, Indigenous communities, Not-for-profit organizations working with Indigenous or local governments, and For-Profit organizations working with Indigenous or local governments
How Much Funding Can You Receive?
It is important to note that organizations will be required to cover the share of the costs NOT covered by the CleanBC Communities Fund. How much funding an organization can receive depends on the type of organization and applicants MUST confirm their ability to cost-share their project contributions and demonstrate their ability to maintain and operate the infrastructure over the expected lifetime.
As a general reference, this is how much funding is available:
- Local Government Projects: Up to 73.33% of eligible project costs (40% from the government of Canada and 33.33% from the Province of British Columbia)
- Indigenous Ultimate Recipient Projects – On-Reserve: Up to %75 of eligible project costs (all from the Canadian Government)
- Indigenous Ultimate Recipient Projects – Off-Reserve: Up to 90% of the eligible project costs (75% from the Government of Canada, 15% from the Province of British Columbia)
- Not-For-Profit Projects: Up to 65% of the eligible project costs (40% from the Government of Canada and 25% from the Province of British Columbia)
- For-Profit Projects: Up to 40% of the eligible project costs (25% from the Government of Canada and 15% from the Province of British Columbia)
Great! So how do you receive the funding? To receive funding through the third intake of the CleanBC Communities Fund, applicants must follow THREE very important steps.
Steps to Receive the Funding:
- STEP #1: ENSURE ELIGIBILIY. Applicants must ensure that their project falls within ONE of the required Project Outcomes.
- STEP #2: RECEIVE TWO-PART ACCESS. Applicants must receive access to the application through BOTH a BCeID Business Account, and through the Ministry’s Local Government Information System (LGIS)
- STEP #3:APPLY. Applicants must successfully complete the online grant application BEFORE May 25th, 2022.
These three steps are a critical part of the process, so to increase your chances of receiving funding, we will take a look at all three of these steps in this article.
STEP #1: ENSURING ELIGIBILITY: WHAT PROJECTS ARE ELIGIBLE?
To receive funding, projects MUST meet one of the required PROJECT OUTCOMES. Projects must improve on or build a new infrastructure that will primarily be used by the public. Projects must also demonstrate HOW their infrastructure will benefit communities, and the project MUST result in measurable greenhouse gas reductions (GHG) and climate mitigation in communities in British Columbia.
Eligibility for the grant is based on an “outcome based” approach. Applications will not be considered under various categories, but instead will need to show that they meet specific outcomes. “So instead of applying under categories like “clean energy” or “biomass”, applicants must ensure that their program will support one of the federal program outcomes for it to be eligible.
*Projects that involve routine maintenance of existing infrastructure or repair are NOT eligible.
The government has outlined FOUR Outcomes that projects must meet in order to be eligible for the grant. These outcomes are:
- Outcome 1 – Increased capacity to manage renewable energy
- Outcome 2 – Increased access to clean energy transportation
- Outcome 3 – Increased energy efficiency of buildings
- Outcome 4 – Increased generation of clean energy
Because the ability to meet these specified outcomes is an integral part of eligibility for the grant, we have provided a bit more detail about each outcome here.
Outcome 1 – RENEWABLE ENERGY MANAGEMENT
Projects that fall under this outcome are projects that will increase the capacity to manage renewable energy.
This outcome include projects that will “increase the type and capacity of infrastructure that is capable to manage renewable energy.” Projects include hydro, solar, wind, geothermal heat, battery storage, biomass, or other systems that improve an infrastructure’s capacity to manage renewable energy. Some examples of types of projects under Outcome 1 include “systems that use proven technologies capable to manage, distribute, control, and transmit renewable energy as defined in the Clean Energy Act.”
Outcome 2 – CLEAN ENERGY TRANSPORTATION
Projects that fall under this outcome are projects that will increase access to clean energy transportation.
This outcome aims to “promote access to clean energy transportation by installing infrastructure for public use that utilizes clean energy to power vehicles.” Example projects for this outcome include Level 2 Electric Vehicle Chargers or hydrogen charging infrastructure installed in public infrastructure such as community centres, public buildings, public parks, and other facilities owned by applicants
Outcome 3 – ENERGY EFFICIENCY OF BUILDINGS
Projects that fall under this outcome are projects that will increase energy efficiency of buildings.
Projects that involve upgrades in cooling and heating systems, upgrades in windows, or upgrades in insulation fall under Outcome 3. BUT, this outcome will “only fund energy efficiency upgrades in new construction.” The objective of this outcome is to increase the efficiency of public or community buildings. This outcome encourages applicants to ‘go above required code’ and to promote projects that will achieve energy efficiency certifications, like LEED, Net-Zero, Passive House, and BOMA.
Outcome 4: GENERATION OF CLEAN ENERGY
Projects that fall under this outcome are projects that will increase generation of clean energy.
This outcome aims to replace dependency in fossil fuel energy generation, so projects that fall under Outcome 4 involve using alternative methods to fossil fuels to generate clean energy. Projects involving Solar PV, Solar PV + Batteries, geothermal heat, bioheat and bio gas, and wind are some examples of projects that fit this outcome.
Some projects may meet more than one outcome, but when choosing an outcome for a project, applicants must choose the BEST outcome for their project.
Once you have ensured that your project meets one of the Project Outcomes, then you can obtain your access to the application.
STEP #2: RECEIVING YOUR TWO PART ACCESS –
How to Access the Online Application
Before you can begin your application, you must have ACCESS to the online application. You will need TWO different accesses: a Business BCeID and access to the Local Government Information System (LGIS).
BCeID: You need this ID to work on your application. A Business BCeID account provides secure access to online government services. You also need it to submit your application through the LGIS. To get your BCeID, your organization has to be registered with BCeID. Once registered, you (as an individual or consultant) must have a user ID from your organization’s Account/Profile Manager. So – your organization must be registered and then you must obtain a user ID. To see if your organization has a Business BCeID account, and/or to find out how to register for one, you can visit:
The LGIS: You will also need access to the Ministry’s LGIS (Local Government Information System). To gain access to this, you must already have BOTH a Business BCeID Account, and a BCeID user ID. When you have both, you need to go here: https://www.localgovernmentinformationsystem.gov.bc.ca/LGIS/
***** THE ACCESS PROCESS TAKES TIME! It is NOT instant. Ensure that you have your Business BCeID Account, your BCeID user ID, and your access to the LGIS at LEAST three weeks before the deadline for applications (May 25th, 2022.) The application process is lengthy, and it will take time to complete, so it’s in your best interest to start the process for the Business BCeID and the LGIS as SOON as you can.
STEP #3: APPLYING – THE APPLICATION
The final step is to actually apply for the grant, but please understand in advance – the application is a beast. The application is extremely long, extensive, and it requires you to answer a lot of detailed questions about your project. The government website has a list of all the questions, as well as sample answers.
You will likely need a lot of time to fill out the application, so we recommend that you familiarize yourself with the questions in advance.
For the purposes of this article, we are providing you with an overview of the application so you can better gage the complexity of the application. The following is NOT a comprehensive list of questions; it is merely meant as a way for you to get your feet wet.
To view the full list of questions, you can visit this PDF from the Government of Canada website: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/driving-and-transportation/funding-engagement-permits/grants-funding/investing-in-canada/icip-clean-communities-fund-application-questions.pdf
The application is divided into NINE sections, and each section deals with a different aspect of your project. Here is an overview of each section, and the main components of each.
Section 1: APPLICANT INFORMATION
This is the simplest part of the application. This section of the application form requires applicants to provide details about themselves. You will be asked to give the full name, title of contact, phone number and email address for: The Applicant’s Primary Contact, the Applicant’s Secondary Contact, and the Head of the Applicant’s Organization.
Section 2: PROJECT INFORMATION
This section of the application is where you give an overview of your project. This section is the WHO, WHAT, WHERE, and WHYS of the project you wish to receive funding for. Below is an overview of the type of information required for this section, but basically, this is where you provide the basic details about your project. Things you will be asked to provide include: the title of your project, the location of the project, the proposed outcome, and the permits needed. Here are some of the questions found in this section.
- Project Title: What are you naming your project?
- Project Description: What is your project?
- List of Project Works: You will need to provide a bullet point list of works included in the scope of the grant.
- Project Rationale: WHY is this project needed for the community? HOW did you determine that this project was needed?
- Who will benefit from this project? Specifically, WHAT is the population that will be directly served by this project?
- Details of location: WHERE is the project located? What is the name of the community? What is the population of the community? You will be asked to give the physical address of the project (or start and end points).
- Is there a bigger benefit to this project?
- FEDERAL OUTCOME: Which outcome does the project PRIMARILY supports. Remember, your project MUST support one of the four OUTCOMES discussed earlier in this article.
- Public Use: Will the general public of members of the community be using the completed works of the project?
- Land acquisition: Does the project require the acquisition of land?
***TIP: Be as concise and direct as possible. Be SPECIFIC. Be aware of the character limits in each area, and do not exceed them.
Section 3: PROJECT ELIGIBILITY
This section is to determine whether or not your project meets the eligibility requirements of the funding. To be eligible, projects must BUILD tangible, physical infrastructure. It is not enough to simply design and plan for the infrastructure. Furthermore, the infrastructure must be owned by a local government, Indigenous Ultimate Recipient, a Not-For-Profit, or a For-Profit organization. As such, this section of the application asks direct questions about the infrastructure being built, the timeline for building the infrastructure, and ownership of the project. For example:
- Has the construction phase started?
- What is the Estimated Project Start Date?
- What is the Estimated Project Completion Date?
- Do you have a Council/Board/Band Council/or other appropriate governing body resolution authorizing the project to proceed and committing your share of the project funding? (Remember, applicants must cover their own share of the costs in the project – the grant does not cover ALL the costs.)
- Will the applicant own and operate the entire completed project in the scope of this grant application?
Section 4: MANDATORY DOCUMENTS
This part of the application requires applicants to attach all mandatory documents. All attachments need to be CLEARLY LABELLED, ORGANIZED, and CONCISE. There is a long list of mandatory documents, depending on who is applying for the grant (Local Governments, Indigenous Ultimate Recipients, or Not-For-Profit, or For-Profit.)
***It is PARAMOUNT that you review the mandatory documents listed in this section and submit ALL required documents. Some of the MANDATORY documents you can expect to submit include, but are not limited to, documents such as:
- Detailed Cost Estimates
- Site Plan/Maps
- Project Study or Plan
- Confirmation of Funds
- Greenhouse Gas Preliminary Assessments
- Business Financial Plans (for Not-For-Profit and For-Profit)
There are additional (but not mandatory) documents you can submit. You can submit up to FIVE additional documents. These additional documents may increase your chances of receiving funding by providing more information about your project, so it may be in your best interest to take advantage of these additional documents. They include:
- Cost Benefit Analysis
- Design Drawings
- Letters of Support
- Community Energy Plans
- Options Assessment
- Asset Management Plan
Section 5: PROJECT COSTS AND PROJECT DELIVERY
This section asks questions about the costs involved in your project, and any other funding you may be receiving. This section asks questions about:
- Total Gross Project costs
- Total Eligible Project Costs
- Approved funding for other Federal and/or Provincial programs
- Net Eligible costs
- The Estimated Maximum grant amount
This section also asks questions about funding details, and a fiscal year breakdown.
Section 6: FUNDING/PLANNING
This section asks you to give details about your funding, your projected funding, and how your organization intends to carry the cost of the project until funding is received. You can expect to answer questions about how you will cover cost overruns here, as well as whether or not you are borrowing the local government share of project funding, and if so, where that money is coming from.
You will be asked to provide EVIDENCE that borrowing has been secured. If funds have not been secured, you must detail your anticipated source of funds.
The types of questions you have to answer in this section depend on what type of entity you are (ex: For-Profit vs Not-For-Profit).
Section 7: MANAGEMENT/PLANNING
This section has to do with Assets Management. The questions in this section are very direct and include questions such as:
- How do you manage your infrastructure assets?
- How does your organization communicate and engage the community regarding your infrastructure plans?
- What aspect of the project design and what infrastructure features will help minimize operation and maintenance costs over the lifecycle of the project assets?
- What are your ongoing revenue sources and how will you fund your proposed projects on-going operating and costs?
There is a character limit for answers in this section, so be precise in your answers.
Section 8: CLIMATE CHANGE RESILIENCY CONSIDERATIONS
This section asks you to identify potential risks or vulnerability to climate -influenced natural hazards that may be involved with the location of your project. Risks include things like floods, wildfires, rising sea levels, and or coastal erosion. This section asks if your infrastructure is ‘protective infrastructure’, or if you are employing measures that increase the resiliency of your public infrastructure when it comes to climate impacts. This section also asks if your organization has completed work on a long-term plan or strategy to make sure the infrastructure is resilient to future natural hazards.
Related: The Canada Greener Homes Grant
Section 9: OUTCOME SPECIFIC QUESTIONS
This section is divided into the Four Project Outcomes. You will need to answer the set of questions that relates to the Project Outcome you have chosen. Each outcome has its own unique questions, so ensure that you are answering the section for YOUR OUTCOME.
Basically, all the questions in this section speak directly to the MEASURABLE OUTCOMES. The questions ask about like:
- Does the project lead to an increase or reduction in greenhouse gas emissions?
- Is the community served by the project grid connected?
- Describe how the project creates or increase the generation of clean energy that will be supplied to the community.
- What is the type of renewable energy system that will be improved of have its capacity increased through the project?
- Explain why the clean energy source was selected.
- Will the project incorporate innovative or emerging technologies/method?
Read EACH question very carefully. Because a measurable outcome is a requirement for eligibility, it is very important that you SHOW in this section HOW your project meets the specific outcome you have chosen.
Tips for a Successful Application:
- Give yourself TIME. Give yourself TIME to gain access to the application (the BCeID and the LGIS) as well as TIME to fill out the actual application itself.
- Be aware of the specified character limits for different answers. Do not exceed them.
- Be concise. Give specific details where needed. Only answer what the question is asking.
- Submit ALL mandatory documents. Submit additional documents as well (up to five) if they demonstrate a wider picture of your project.
- Submit your application before the deadline. The deadline for applications for the third intake is May 25th, 2022.
There is a wealth of information available for applicants on the website. If your organization is helping your community create a more sustainable BC by building infrastructure that fits one of the Outcomes outlined above, then there is government funding available to you. Ensure you are eligible, obtain your application access, and apply, and your organization could receive some of the millions of dollars in funding allocated in the third intake of the CleanBC Communities Fund.
For more information, you can visit the government website here: