Funding allows Smart Green Communities to extend scope of work on Manitoulin Island

Representatives of Smart Green Communities were in Kagawong on Wednesday to make a funding announcement, that will go toward the goal of supporting a coordinated approach to community energy planning across Manitoulin Island. In photo, left to right, is Todd Gordon, Billings Township economic development officer; Billings Councillor Barbara Erskine; Raili Lanaken, program manager of Smart Green Communities, David St. Georges, communications director of reThink Green; Al MacNevin, mayor of NEMI; and Silvio Berti, economic development officer for Central Manitoulin.

KAGAWONG—Along with an announcement that Smart Green Communities has received funding in the amount of $96,000 from the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) with the goal of supporting a coordinated approach to community energy planning across Manitoulin is the news the program will be extending the scope of its work on the Island.

The Smart Green Communities program began in the summer of 2017 as part of reThink Green’s target-based sustainability program for businesses, Green Economy North. Members have access to free training events on climate change and the program offers support on reporting energy use and greenhouse gas emissions and developing coordinated structures for energy planning. It has since helped regional municipalities identify moneysaving projects to reduce their energy consumption at public facilities.

“We developed the Smart Green Communities program structure in response to the distinct needs of small and medium sized municipalities in the region,” said Raili Lakanen, manager of the Smart Green Communities Program. “Our office may be based in Sudbury, but we are focused on supporting the transition to a sustainable and resilient future across all of Northeastern Ontario.”

At an announcement event held in Kagawong on Wednesday it was explained the program will be extending the scope of work was made possible in part through the financial support of the IESO’s Education and Capacity Building (ECB) Program.

The objective of the ECB program is to provide funding support for projects that provide education, build capacity and develop the skills of municipalities, First Nation and Metis communities and other public sector entities, as well as to enhance knowledge, awareness and participation in energy projects.

With the ECB program funding, the Smart Green Communities program will now be able to have part-time staff members dedicated to data collection and energy plan harmonization and coordination on Manitoulin Island.

Ms. Lakanen said the program will be reaching out to municipalities and First Nations communities on Manitoulin Island over the coming months to determine their interest in participating in the membership-based program.

“Interested staff and community officials are also very welcome to reach out to us and we’d be pleased to meet with them and answer their questions, particularly as newly-elected councils are formed after the municipal election,” Ms. Lakanen added.