Natural Infrastructure Fund

Status

The Natural Infrastructure Fund (NIF) program is not currently accepting applications. Applicants will be notified directly when funding decision are made.

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Natural Infrastructure Fund
Small Projects Stream Applicant Guide
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Overview

Nature, like infrastructure, makes our communities more livable — green places that are beautiful, healthier, and more sustainable and resilient.

Announced in June 2021, the $200 million Natural Infrastructure Fund supports projects that use natural or hybrid approaches to protect the natural environment, support healthy and resilient communities, and contribute to economic growth and jobs.

Natural infrastructure is a way for communities to use their ecosystems to improve quality of life, reduce pollution, enhance biodiversity and habitats, and build resilience to climate change. Examples of natural infrastructure include urban forests, street trees, wetlands, living dykes, bioswales, and naturalized coastal restoration.

Hybrid infrastructure incorporates elements of engineered grey infrastructure to enhance or support natural infrastructure and/or the use of ecosystem processes. Examples of hybrid infrastructure include green roofs and walls, and naturalized stormwater ponds.

The Natural Infrastructure Fund will bring real benefits to communities across Canada, including:

  • Increasing climate change resilience
  • Mitigating carbon emissions
  • Improving the environment, such as contributing to cleaner air and water
  • Protecting and preserving biodiversity and wildlife habitats
  • Promoting people's access to nature

A minimum of 10% of the overall program envelope will be allocated to Indigenous-led projects.

Note: While discussions are ongoing between the Government of Canada and the Government of Quebec regarding the implementation of this program in Quebec, organizations in Quebec are still invited to submit applications for review.  Applicants will be subject to the Act respecting the Ministère du Conseil exécutif (M-30).

Program details

Funding streams

The Natural Infrastructure Fund has two streams.

Large Projects Stream

Major cities with innovative natural infrastructure strategies were invited to apply for up to $120 million for large natural or hybrid infrastructure projects. This approach will help implement projects and accelerate the community environmental and economic co-benefits that they bring. Projects selected for funding will be announced publicly through Infrastructure Canada's website and social media channels.

Small Projects Stream

The remaining program envelope will be allocated to communities across Canada for smaller natural and hybrid infrastructure projects.

Who can apply to the Small Projects Stream?

The following groups are eligible:

  • Municipalities, local and regional governments established by or under provincial or territorial statute;
  • Provinces and territories;
  • Public sector bodies that are established by or under provincial or territorial statute or by regulation or are wholly-owned by a province, territory, municipal or regional government;
  • Indigenous recipients (Indigenous governing bodies, not-for-profits whose primary mandate is to serve Indigenous Peoples, and not-for-profit Indigenous development corporations);
  • Federally or provincially incorporated not-for-profit organizations; and
  • Private for-profit bodies if working in collaboration with another eligible public recipient.

What types of projects are eligible under the Small Projects Stream?

Eligible natural infrastructure projects involve the creation, expansion, restoration, improvement, or enhancement of natural or hybrid infrastructure that is primarily for public benefit.

Projects must reflect one of the four categories listed below:

  1. Planting or restoring green space (e.g., urban forests, green roofs, parks, and community gardens);
  2. Construction or restoration of naturalized water retention or detention systems (naturalized stormwater ponds, wetlands, and coastal restoration);
  3. Naturalized water diversion or infiltration (e.g., establishment of living dykes, rain gardens, bioswales, and permeable land cover); and/or,
  4. Natural infrastructure or hybrid infrastructure projects supporting biodiversity and connectivity.

Projects may include design elements to enhance human access to nature, including green space and water bodies. These are only eligible if connected to the broader project. Design elements include trails, benches, signage, and multi-function piers.

How are the projects for the Small Projects Stream assessed?

The Natural Infrastructure Fund is a national, competitive, direct-delivery program delivered through grants and contributions.

All projects are assessed on their ability to deliver multiple community services. The delivery of multiple co-benefits with the natural and hybrid infrastructure project is a core component of the Natural Infrastructure Fund. Applicants must ensure they meet the eligibility requirements and provide as much information as possible, including evidence, data, or other analysis, as failure to provide enough information or detail may affect eligibility to qualify.

Grants

Projects may be funded through Grant Agreements if the total eligible costs are between $30,000 and up to and including $250,000. Projects funded through grants will receive a maximum contribution of $250,000.

Eligible projects for grants are evaluated against the following merit criteria:

  • At least one community service:
    • Climate change resilience services (e.g., erosion prevention, flood protection).
    • Environmental quality services (e.g., wastewater treatment, stormwater diversion).
    • Access to nature services (e.g., public green space).
    • Biodiversity and habitat services (e.g., improved ecological integrity or connectivity).
    • Climate change mitigation services (e.g., energy efficiency, carbon sequestration).
  • Project readiness*
  • Economic co-benefits

Contributions

Projects may be funded through Contribution Agreements if total eligible costs are over $250,000 and up to and including $3 million. Projects funded through contributions will receive a maximum contribution of $1 million.

All eligible projects contributions are evaluated against the same criteria as grants, in addition to:

  • At least two community services;
  • Identified need and priority;
  • Social inclusion*; and
  • Climate change impact.

*Note that Indigenous recipients do not need to address the project readiness or social inclusion criteria.

For additional information on the application process, please refer to the Applicant Guide.

How to apply

There is a three-step process to applying to the Natural Infrastructure  Fund. Applicants should begin their applications in advance of the deadline to avoid delays.

Step One – Confirm Eligibility:

It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure they meet the eligibility requirements before starting an application. For detailed information on the program, including applicant and project eligibility requirements, and instructions about how to apply for funding, please refer to the Applicant Guide.

Step Two – Create an Account for Application:

If you are an eligible applicant with an eligible project, you are invited to complete the Infrastructure Canada Program Registration Form. The creation of an account will enable you to log in to the online Applicant Portal, and gain access to the application form and applicant support services.

Once the Program Registration Form has been submitted, you will receive an email shortly, providing the login information you will need to access the Portal. If you do not receive the email within a few minutes, please check your spam folder. If you still have not received it, please contact the Infrastructure Canada Support Team.

Step Three – Submit an Application:

Log in to the online Applicant Portal using the link and account information provided to you by email, and complete your application. Note that your application can be saved before submission as many times as necessary. You are not required to complete the application in one session. You must read the Applicant Guide in order to submit a complete application.

Applications must be submitted by 3:00pm (Eastern Daylight Time) on September 27, 2022. It is strongly suggested that applicants apply through the online Applicant Portal to avoid delays in the processing of their application. Applicants who are unable to apply through the Portal are asked to reach out to the Natural Infrastructure Fund program team at NIF‑FIN@infc.gc.ca.

Applicant guide

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Natural Infrastructure Fund Small Projects Stream Applicant Guide (PDF)

Natural Infrastructure Fund Small Projects Stream Applicant Guide (HTML).

Webinars for applicants

Join our webinars for applicants, which will provide information on the process of developing and submitting an application to the Small Projects Stream under the Natural Infrastructure Fund. During these webinar sessions, attendees will be provided with details on applicant and project eligibility, the application process, and the evaluation process. There will also be an opportunity to ask questions. Webinars are scheduled for the following dates:

English sessions:

  • Thursday, August 4: 1:00 – 2:00 pm (EDT) (FULL)
  • Thursday, August 11: 1:00 – 2:00 pm (EDT) (FULL)
  • Thursday, August 18: 1:00 – 2:00 pm (EDT) (FULL)
  • Thursday, August 25: 1:00 – 2:00 pm (EDT) (FULL)
  • Thursday, September 1: 1:00 – 2:00 pm (EDT) (FULL)
  • Thursday, September 8: 1:00 – 2:00 pm (EDT) (FULL)
  • Tuesday, September 20: 1:00 – 2:00 pm (EDT) (FULL)

French sessions:

  • Tuesday, August 9: 1:00 – 2:00 pm (EDT) (FULL)
  • Tuesday, August 23: 1:00 – 2:00 pm (EDT) (FULL)
  • Friday, September 16: 11:00 – 12:00 pm (EDT) (FULL)

If you are interested in registering for one of the webinars, please follow the links above to register. Registration is limited, please reserve your spot soon.

Contact us

For questions about the Natural Infrastructure Fund, please contact the Natural Infrastructure Fund program team at NIF-FIN@infc.gc.ca.