On June 25, Catherine McKenna, federal 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, which was mentioned in Budget 2021, 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. That’s why the Government is creating a new, $200 million Natural Infrastructure Fund,” said McKenna. (On June 28, the minister also announced that she has decided not to seek re-election the next time voters go to the polls. She says she wants to spend more time with her three children and devote her energies to the fight against climate change.)

“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.

Toronto’s community-driven Ravine Strategy aims to protect, manage, and enhance the ecological services and recreational opportunities provided by an urban ravine network spanning more than 300 kilometres.

“The federal government are strong partners for our city and have continuously helped us move forward in building up Toronto,” said Tory. “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, 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 10 per cent of the overall program envelope will be allocated to Indigenous recipients.

Featured image of the announcement from @cathmckenna.

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