Skip to content

Newmarket advancing 'ambitous' green retrofit corporation

Council revisits program to get homeowners to invest in climate-friendly improvements, business plan coming in fall
home energy retrofit
File photo

The Town of Newmarket wants to create a company that will encourage you to give your home a green retrofit.

The new corporate entity would run the Newmarket Energy Efficiency Retrofit (NEER) program, with its business plan scheduled to be presented in the fall. Council reviewed progress on the file in a workshop May 16.

Energy consulting firm Enerva was awarded the contract to develop the business plan. Executive chairman Parminder Sandhu said the plan is important for addressing climate change. 

“It’s what we need to address the climate emergency we got,” he said. “If we don’t take some of these innovative and ambitious approaches, we're not going to get to the goals we need to get to.”

The project has been in the works for several years to implement the town’s 2016 community energy plan. The town wants to create a new entity — which Enerva referred to as NEWCo — that will start an energy retrofitting program, with the goal of green retrofits to 80 per cent of Newmarket homes.

Sandhu laid out how the town might finance the project through the Federation of Canadian Municipalities green municipal fund, which offers grants. The fund can provide up to $350,000 in funding for planning stages, $500,000 for the business launch stages and a loan of up to $10 million.

But Sandhu said it will be a task getting residents to buy into the retrofits. He said the pandemic has changed the landscape since the town made a business case in 2018-19, with affordability more of an issue and construction material costs going up.

“Those are some of the big things we’re trying to figure out,” Sandhu said.

Councillor Victor Woodhouse said the program needs to be easy to use.

“Making it easy for the financing,” he said. “Making it easy to understand the upgrade choices. I know the program has not been set, but those are things that I think will give us some traction.”

Taylor said homeowners are making incremental improvements to their homes regularly, and the town needs to find a way to work with that and get them to take another step.

He said the federal government would also have to be a key funding source to make it work.

“This needs to be funded largely, if not entirely, by the federal government," he said. "We can do all the hard lifting and the engagement." 

Once the business plan is submitted, Sandhu said grant applications will be made and sent to FCM. That will be followed by bylaws and, finally, the launch of the new corporate entity.

“What you guys are trying to do, and what we want to, is ambitious,” he said. “(We’ll) find a way to do it.”