Bridgewater is the Winner of Infrastructure Canada's $5 million Smart Cities Challenge
On May 14, 2019, Bridgewater was declared the winner of the competition in the $5 million prize category, beating out 49 other communities. Bridgewater’s winning idea aims to reduce energy poverty in our community. Living in energy poverty means not being able to afford enough energy to heat and power one’s home, or fuel for transportation. It is a serious problem that affects about 2 out of every 5 residents in Bridgewater. The jury felt that Bridgewater’s idea would make a big difference in people’s lives and reduce poverty in the community. It could also be copied by other communities that want to follow in Bridgewater’s footsteps.
Challenge Statement: Our community will lift its residents out of energy poverty, starting by reducing the energy poverty rate 20% by 2025.
What is Bridgewater planning on doing with its $5 million prize?
The prize will allow Bridgewater to lift many of its residents out of energy poverty. It will do this by:
Making homes more energy efficient: we will hire a team of experts who will help residents and property owners to make your homes highly energy efficient and to install renewable energy systems, for example by adding insulation, smart thermostats, heat pumps, and solar panels. They will help residents and property owners find grant funding or loans to pay for these upgrades. The team will also take care of getting the work done by hiring good contractors and making sure that the work is done well. They will pay particular attention to older homes and apartment buildings, and as well as the needs of lower-income residents.
Helping you own and sell your own renewable energy: rooftop solar and ‘solar farms’ within which residents will be able to own solar panels that will provide you with income.
Setting up an “energy management information system”: to help home owners and businesses across the community plan energy upgrades, and make sure that you actually save energy and money as promised.
Making transportation cheaper and more accessible for everyone: improving Bridgewater’s bus service, and making streets and trails safer and more walkable for everyone.
Setting up a local energy investment program: so residents and businesses can make financial investments in the community’s energy projects and earn income from those investments.
Improving community services: better connecting residents who experience energy poverty with the community services (health, education, social services, etc.).
When can I start using the program?
If you own your home and would like to explore affordable energy upgrades today, our Clean Energy Financing program can already help with that! www.CleanEnergyFinancing.ca / (844) 727-7818 (toll free). Efficiency Nova Scotia also offers programs and rebates for homes, apartment buildings, and businesses. www.efficiencyns.ca / (877) 999-6035 (toll free).
The full Energy Poverty Reduction Program will take more time to set up properly – we will likely start taking applications in 2020 or 2021. That’s a long wait for people who need this help today. But help is already available – in the form of community support, emergency fuel funds, free home energy upgrades, and other solutions. The Town is already working with community partners to better connect residents to these existing services. More information will be available later in 2019.
Bridgewater's Smart Cities Challenge Video Playlist
Energize Bridgewater Monthly Zine
Read about the latest in sustainability in Bridgewater including the Smart Cities Challenge, Bridgewater transit, and more. Click on a cover page to read:
What is Energy Poverty?
Energize Bridgewater Team
Jessica McDonald, Director of Community Development
Leon de Vreede, Project Lead
Myles Cornish, On-Site Energy Manager
Greg Goubko, Energy and Finance Development Coordinator