Addressing Energy Poverty in British Columbia’s Rural and Indigenous Communities

Rural and indigenous communities in Canada experience energy poverty due to poor quality housing, lower incomes, high fuel costs, limited access to natural gas, and in some cases no access to grid electricity. Ecotrust Canada’s Community Energy Initiative seeks to address Energy Poverty by improving access to affordable heat in rural and indigenous communities across Canada. Residential heating constitutes majority of energy costs for Canadian households, and so, heating system retrofits are a compelling opportunity to address high energy costs.

Opportunities for Alleviating Indigenous Energy Poverty in BC

Indigenous communities, especially those in remote locations, experience much higher rates of energy poverty than the rest of British Columbians. Energy poverty occurs when an individual allocates a disproportionately high percentage of their income towards household energy costs. The negative repercussions of energy poverty are not only economic, but also social, physical and environmental.

North Coast Innovation Lab

The North Coast Innovation Lab (NCIL) is a place-based initiative for people who are invested in the future of Prince Rupert to work together on tangible projects and initiatives that build a resilient economy as a tool for community well-being. Forthcoming student Project Coordinators provide capacity to the efforts of the NCIL through action-research, project prototyping/piloting, social innovation methodology application & understanding, and community learning activities and presentations reflecting the efforts and outcomes of the NCIL.

North Coast Innovation Lab

The two internships proposed in this application are for research and feasibility project coordinators for the North Coast Innovation Lab (NCIL) in Prince Rupert, BC.
In addition to research and feasibility around potential projects that will a) grow the local economy for fish and marine products, and b) enhance coworking and resource sharing, the internships will also explore, at both systems and ground levels, how social innovation strategies of economic development and community building can be applied in the rural, northern and coastal context.
Ultimately, the NCIL hopes to spark a systemi

Indigenous Energy Financing Solutions

Energy poverty is an issue that impacts many First Nations communities in British Columbia. Despite significant appetite from communities to develop clean energy solutions, many do not benefit from the available financing programs. This research seeks to understand what barriers exist for First Nations communities in accessing energy financing, as well as to identify some best practices from other jurisdictions. The project will use this information to propose innovative community energy financing options that could be applied in the B.C. context.

Tree to Home Scoping

This research aims to identify the challenges and opportunities that exist within and amongst First Nations communities for creating culturally appropriate and resilient housing models and local economies. It will build understanding around what is required to transform the current housing system from one that uses external labour, resources and businesses to one that promotes local livelihoods, value-added businesses and local resource use within a First Nations culturally focused bioregional economy.

Building the Case for Sustainable Forestry in Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia forests boast the second highest private ownership rate in Canada, with almost 3 of 4.5 million hectares owned by 30,000 woodlot owners and private corporations. Because of this, forest management practices vary widely. Though the Nova Scotian forests traditionally consist of large, mature, unevenly aged trees that support both important biodiversity and a thriving forest sector, mismanagement of these forests for decades has led to a decline of the forests and the rural communities that depend on them.

Urban Economic Innovation Lab – Phase 1

Vancouver’s inner city is experiencing disproportionate levels of poverty and is under strong development pressure, with concern that few of the associated benefits are being captured by local communities and economies. An appetite exists for innovation in economic development but current community capacity to explore and support these ideas is limited. RADIUS SFU and Ecotrust Canada are developing a social innovation lab methodology and framework that works with community to design, test and launch new approaches to sustainable economic development.

Business Modeling for Fisheries Monitoring at Ecotrust Canada

In the past, Canada’s fisheries have been improperly managed, which has led to overfishing and general downturn of fisheries economics. Because of this, the federal government has mandated that all fisheries be monitored to ensure that the proper regulations and quotas are being followed. Recently, the onus for this monitoring has been transferred to the fisheries themselves and they are finding it costly and overwhelming. Ecotrust Canada is designing a new, less expensive and more user-friendly monitoring system and is currently testing it out in Northern BC as well as in Maine.

Pay for Performance Intervention Funding

Social impact bonds (SIB) have the potential to fund proven social innovation projects that governments have to date, for a variety of reasons, been reticent to fund. Through a SIB, private investors fund innovative social intervention work that is carried out by a non-profit. If the non-profit achieves certain social outcomes previously agreed upon by the three parties, a portion of the public savings from early intervention are given to investors as a return on their initial investment.

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