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First Projects Under Sustainable Communities Challenge Fund Announced

by ahnationtalk on July 6, 202356 Views

July 6, 2023

Two Cape Breton community organizations and people with wells provincewide will benefit from new provincial funding that supports energy efficiency and groundwater research.

Environment and Climate Change Minister Timothy Halman announced $1.3 million for three projects today, July 6, in Sydney:

  • energy efficiency upgrades for the New Dawn Centre for Social Innovation in Sydney
  • heat pumps and removal of oil heating for Cape Breton Community Housing Association homes
  • research in Cape Breton Regional Municipality and other communities on the impact of climate change on groundwater.

The projects are the first to be funded through the Sustainable Communities Challenge Fund.

“Communities are the first responders on climate change and have a wealth of knowledge about what they need to do to adapt to, and mitigate the impacts of, climate change,” said Minister Halman. “I am pleased to announce this funding which is empowering communities to lead the action that is needed to tackle climate change head-on and reduce carbon emissions. In fact, community action and leadership is absolutely critical in ensuring we have a green, sustainable future.”

More details about the projects include:

  • New Dawn Enterprises is receiving $776,159 for a range of energy efficiency upgrades to its centre and estimates the improvements will result in about $78,000 in annual savings on their energy bill.
  • The Cape Breton Community Housing Association, which provides housing for people experiencing mental illness and homelessness in the Sydney area, is receiving $207,729 to convert nine homes from oil heat to heat pumps. The association estimates that these upgrades, combined with a future solar project, will save about $137,000 annually and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by up to 95 per cent.
  • The Centre for Water Resource Studies at Dalhousie University, in partnership with Rural Water Watch, is receiving $343,000 to do research on how climate change will impact groundwater that enters wells in rural communities. They will also develop adaptation plans. Climate change impacts on groundwater could include sea-level rise that results in salt water in wells near the coast and droughts that can dry up wells. The centre’s work will focus on several communities, including Cape Breton Regional Municipality. About 50 per cent of Nova Scotians depend on groundwater for their water.

More grants from the Sustainable Communities Challenge Fund will be announced over the summer. The fund is available to municipalities, non-profit and community organizations, post-secondary schools and First Nations communities to help them respond to climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.


The Nova Scotia Federation of Municipalities acknowledges the immense significance of the Sustainable Community Challenge Fund, and we are thrilled to join in celebrating the launch of the first three projects to be awarded funding. These initiatives, championed by local communities, demonstrate the profound impact that collective action can have in responding to climate change, and we are proud to support these initiatives that will help build a more sustainable future for all.

– Juanita Spencer, CEO, Nova Scotia Federation of Municipalities

This investment allows us to reduce the building’s GHG emissions by a minimum 130 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year. This is equivalent to the CO2 sequestered by 155 acres of trees in a year. It is also the pivotal investment that secures our ability to repurpose, rather than tear down and reconstruct, this building in pursuit of more efficient operations. The environmental and financial impact of its dated, inefficient and costly heating system and building envelope weighed heavily on us. Nova Scotia is replete with older buildings with a lot of life remaining in them. Investments like these allow us to responsibly repurpose these buildings, saving the significant additional CO2 and waste that would be generated through demolition and reconstruction.

– Erika Shea, CEO and President, New Dawn Centre for Social Innovation

This project will result in the electrification of the heating and cooling systems in nine Cape Breton Community Housing Association homes, thereby reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and our energy costs, and will provide a much more comfortable living environment for our clients.

– Fred Deveaux, Executive Director, Cape Breton Community Housing Association

When people think of climate change, they often focus on atmospheric and surface changes, while the impacts to groundwater remain ‘out of sight and out of mind.’ However, shallow aquifers in coastal regions are in delicate balance with the atmosphere and the ocean and can dry up or be salinized due to sea-level rise or changing precipitation or air temperatures. With this Sustainable Communities Challenge Fund support, and in partnership with many communities, we will conduct a provincewide assessment of the vulnerability of our critical groundwater resources to climate change.

– Barret Kurylyk, associate professor and Canada Research Chair, Centre for Water Resource Studies, Dalhousie University

Quick Facts:

  • the Sustainable Communities Challenge Fund was created on October 27, 2021, as part of the Environmental Goals and Climate Change Reduction Act, the government’s legislated commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, respond to climate change, transform how Nova Scotians produce and use energy, make homes more energy efficient and more
  • the fund provides $15 million over three years for projects that help communities adapt to climate change, mitigate its impacts and help Nova Scotia cut its greenhouse gas emissions
  • the Nova Scotia Federation of Municipalities was selected through a request for proposals process to develop and administer the Sustainable Communities Challenge Fund on behalf of the government

Additional Resources:

More information on the Sustainable Communities Challenge Fund is available at:

Environmental Goals and Climate Change Reduction Act:


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