Renewable cities heads startup of $20 million metro Vancouver zero emission innovation centre


The project is for identify, finance and scale up local climate solutions, such as building retrofits and electrification of transportation.

Renewable Cities and Simon Fraser University’s Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue have been selected by the City of Vancouver, Metro Vancouver and Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) to support development of a low carbon innovation centre to accelerate urban climate solutions across Metro Vancouver through research, capacity building and innovative financial tools. The new centre will be seeded by a generous $21.7 million endowment from the federal government to identify, finance and scale up local climate solutions, such as building retrofits and electrification of transportation.

Renewable Cities at SFU’s Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue, along with partners WCS Engagement + Planning, Rhiza Capital and Lidstone & Company, was awarded the task of establishing the Centre by:

• Federation of Canadian Municipalities President, Garth Frizell
• City of Vancouver Mayor, Kennedy Stewart
• Federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Jonathan Wilkinson
• Burnaby North-Seymour Member of Parliament, Terry Beech
• Board Chair of Metro Vancouver, Sav Dhaliwal

Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, stated, “Canadians want cleaner air and cleaner water for their children and grandchildren. The research and collaboration that will take place at the Metro Vancouver LC3 Centre will help deliver just that, while creating good jobs here in Vancouver, fighting climate change, and protecting our planet.”

The top priorities for establishing this new independent entity are:

1. Tapping into the region’s immense social, financial and intellectual capital to shape the organization’s governance, focus, leadership and climate action network
2. Evaluating climate action challenges, opportunities and gaps, and applying lessons from low carbon innovation centres
3. Recruiting pragmatic, visionary, savvy and engaged leaders to the board, advisory bodies and executive
4. Identifying and initiating programmatic priorities, and integrating the Zero Emission Building Exchange to support building sector capacity building
5. Catalyzing leverage of the generous federal endowment from private, public and social sectors

Renewable Cities has assembled a team of top nonprofit start-up, impact investment, governance and community climate action strategists to establish this organization over the next year. Advisors with the City of Vancouver, Metro Vancouver, BC Government and private sector will help guide development. The team leading the establishment of the LC3 Innovation Centre includes:


• Alex Boston, Executive Director, Renewable Cities, and Fellow, SFU’s Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue. Role: Project Director and Community Energy Specialist
• Brad Doff, Project Manager, Renewable Cities. Role: Project Manager and Analyst
• Cheeying Ho, Executive Director, WCS Engagement + Planning. Role: Engagement, Strategic Planning and Non-profit Start-up Specialist
• Don Lidstone, Managing Partner, Lidstone & Company. Role: Fiduciary, Legal and Governance Strategist
• Brian Smith, Chief Executive Officer, Rhiza Capital. Role: Impact Investment and Finance Specialist


• Peter Ladner, Elected Official Alumnus, Former Editor of Business in Vancouver and the Urban Food Revolution. Role: Governance and Regional Business Advisor
• Darcy Riddell, BC Program Director, MakeWay (formerly Tides Canada). Role: Non-profit Start-up and Social Innovation Advisor
• Shauna Sylvester, Executive Director, SFU Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue. Role: Non-profit Start-up, Finance and Governance Advisor

The seed funding for the Metro Vancouver Zero Emission Innovation Centre is part of a $183 million endowment by the Federal Government to support a pan-Canadian network consisting of seven Low Carbon Cities Centres (LC3) in large urban regions with the aim of helping Canada meet its 2030 and 2050 GHG reduction targets while supporting equity, resilience and prosperity. Centres are expected to use the investment capital to finance their work and match this initial federal endowment with matching contributions from other public, private and social sector sources.

The LC3 initiative was inspired by the work of the Toronto Atmospheric Fund (TAF), established in the 1990s with a $23 million endowment by the City of Toronto as an arm’s length organization with a long-term mandate to steward and finance deep emission reductions across the City. TAF has catalyzed some of North America’s most extensive building retrofits.

Now The Atmospheric Fund serving greater Toronto and Hamilton, TAF led development of LC3 Canada with the support of a broad array of organizations across the country, including Renewable Cities and SFU’s Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue. Support from the Clean Economy Fund created by Canadian philanthropists was vital to realizing this novel network. Long-standing Renewable Cities supporters—the North Family Foundation and Sitka Foundation—contributed to this fund. The Renewable Cities-led team is looking forward to engaging with players in local and provincial governments, post-secondary institutions, private sector, utilities, grant making and philanthropy, First Nations, and non-governmental organizations to harness the immense intellectual, social and financial capital of the region through a new institution to bend the carbon curve to zero.

Working off of the $21.7 million endowment through investment proceeds and impact investment, the new centre’s work will start modestly. It is expected to grow steadily through partnership, programming investment, leveraging and innovative financing.

Photo: Simon Fraser University

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