Ten years after starting an innovation fund for sustainability projects, Metro Vancouver is starting to get close to actually using the money.
The regional district has been funneling $347,000 a year into its Sustainability Innovation Fund since Metro’s GST rebate of the same amount was first contributed in 2005.
It’s grown to $16.3 million and is expected to fund six projects a year to the tune of $100,000 each.
The money is to go to projects that result in measurable contributions to regional sustainability, by such means as greenhouse gas reductions, cleaner air or water, or ecosystem health improvements.
Projects proposed by either Metro or its member municipalities will be advanced this fall and winners picked next February.
Maple Ridge Mayor Ernie Daykin said the grants could fund “outside-the-box projects” such as putting solar panels on the roof of a leisure centre – extras that could add to regional goals that might not otherwise be justified in business-as-usual civic spending.
“It’s not truck loads of money, but it’s a little bit extra to kick start or try something creative,” he said.
A regional district committee approved the proposed use of the fund Thursday.
There was no serious consideration of liquidating the fund and using it for temporary tax relief instead.
“Yes, you could take it and give some relief in the current year,” Daykin said. “But what do you do after that?”
Metro Vancouver spends nearly $650 million a year, most of it on regional water and sewer services. The average household in the region paid $423 in regional utility fees and property taxes this year.