B.C. Partners With First Nations To Develop Clean Energy In Aboriginal Communities

Town Concept Illustration

By Arman Kazemi

January 14, 2016

The B.C. government has announced a new round of funding from the First Nations Clean Energy Business Fund, a program that has channelled over $8 million to 116 aboriginal communities across the province.

B.C. First Nations now have until the end of January to submit their proposals for 2016.

Every year since its inception in 2011, the fund has invested in clean technology projects to develop sustainable infrastructure and expertise in First Nations communities. It has also entered into revenue-sharing agreements with First Nations whose territory is affected by clean energy projects.

In 2015 alone, the government entered into 39 revenue sharing-agreements with 31 aboriginal communities, and invested over $1.3 million in 14 First Nations clean energy initiatives.

One such project is with the Beecher Bay Band on the southwest coast of Vancouver Island, which wasawarded a $400,000 equity investment to build an ocean thermal facility to heat homes in the residential development of Spirit Bay. The band has partnered with the Victoria-based Trust for Sustainable Development.

The project is expected to generate revenue for the band.

“It’s a way for them to be able to bridge an economic development with some new technology and really be able to prove this out,” provincial Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation John Rustad said of the Silver Bay initiative in a recorded statement.

“It’s been very successful for the community and how they’ve been able to build their future. We’re very proud that we’ve been able to partner with them in trying to make this a reality,” Rustad said.

This year, the government has expanded the criteria to include equity investments for efficient heating technology, as well as training in “solar and insulation installation, draft proofing, ventilation and energy efficient home and building design.”

According to the B.C. government website, the fund is part of the government’s larger plans for reconciliation with First Nations.

“Developing new sources of clean, sustainable power is vital for the future of British Columbia,” Minister of Energy and Mines Bill Bennett said in a statement. “As a government, we recognize that First Nations’ participation in developing these resources is an essential part of that future.”