Community Economic Development Investment Funds (CEDIFs)

A CEDIF is a pool of capital which is raised from individuals within a community to operate or invest in a local business. Any individual or group can form a working group to investigate the possibility of starting a CEDIF in their community. A CEDIF need not be large at its formation. A small initial offering followed by annual, or semi-annual offerings can quickly grow to be a substantial capital pool for local investments.

Many individuals are investing in stock market holdings, RRSPs, GICs, Canada Savings Bonds, savings accounts, etc. While all can earn a return, these investments are all likely taking place outside of Newfoundland and Labrador. CEDIFs are designed to channel funds into productive investment within the communities of the investors, which would provide an important source of capital for many local businesses. This, in turn, would strengthen the local economy and that of the province. Funds are controlled by a local group of officers and directors, who may be chosen by the founders and promoters of the CEDIF or by the CEDIF’s investors at an annual general meeting. CEDIFs can help communities invest in green businesses and green projects that impact them.

  • Action Recommended:
    Newfoundland and Labrador to investigate appropriate CEDIF models, consult with stakeholders, and move forward with creating appropriate program framework.

Municipalities

Through the delivery of services, infrastructure implementation, and procurement activities, the decisions municipalities make have significant environmental implications. But municipalities have limited financial and human resource capacity with which to make difficult choices. Though a ‘green’ solution can be the best decision both environmentally and economically, up-front costs are typically higher and the payoff period is usually in the medium-to-long term. When needs are immediate, councils often rely on the status quo in the decision-making process. Federal funding is available to finance a wide variety of ‘green’ projects, yet uptake on these funds compared to municipalities in the rest of Canada is very low in Newfoundland and Labrador. More ‘green’ decision-making by our municipalities represents significant opportunity for green economic development, with the greatest impediment being their capacity to make informed decisions and follow through on more complex projects.

  • Action Recommended:
    Newfoundland and Labrador to develop a regional governance model. Regional governance will increase the capacity and resources of local decision makers, increase the efficiency of service delivery, and ensure land use decisions are made with long-term interests in mind.

  • Action Recommended:
    Newfoundland and Labrador to provide adequate resources to municipalities to inform decision making, identify funding opportunities, and make appropriate ‘green’ investments.

  • Action Recommended:
    Newfoundland and Labrador to educate municipalities on the tools they have at their disposal that can yield a significant positive impact on the natural environment (e.g. planning, zoning, permitting, exemptions, procurement, taxation, etc.)

Public Transportation

The Northeast Avalon region of the province is in need of a modern public transportation system. A robust public transportation system is important in regional economic development, for a number of reasons, not limited to:

  • Efficient public transportation links resources, contributing to the ease of knowledge transfer and idea sharing – and is a factor in the innovative potential of an economy

  • Efficient public transportation facilitates labour mobility, while helping ensure potential workers can reach employers regardless of their ability to own a vehicle

  • Efficient public transportation mitigates the negative economic symptoms of aging transportation networks – congestion, disconnection, and urban sprawl

  • Effective public transportation infrastructure encourages economic development along frequently used routes and corridors

  • Effective public transportation discourages urban sprawl, contributing to increased efficiency in municipal service delivery

From a green economy perspective, an effective public transportation network has significant environmental advantages. According to the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador’s Climate Change Action Plan (2011), transportation is responsible for 31% of the province’s carbon emissions. Emissions from road transportation, such as passenger vehicles and heavy trucks, account for approximately 70% of those emissions. With much of the province’s population living in the Northeast Avalon region, there is an opportunity to reduce emissions through the implementation of stronger public transportation systems in the region. In addition, increased use of public transportation reduces the land use pressures imposed by passenger vehicle use on municipalities – e.g. parking spaces, more and wider roads.

Provincial leadership is required to move this issue forward. Despite continued public interest, municipalities in the region have been unwilling or unable to work together on public transportation strategy, and may not be considering the entire region’s interests in their positions. The approach by the service provider in St. John’s (Metrobus) of attempting to grow services from the capital city outwards has proven to be unsuccessful. As in other Canadian jurisdictions, provincial government leadership is needed to establish and support a regional public transportation service.

  • Action Recommended:
    Newfoundland and Labrador to provide leadership and resources in assisting municipalities on the Northeast Avalon in the establishment and operation of a new regional public transportation service provider.

Local Products and Services

The increased use of local products and services, displacing those that would be imported, contributes to local business growth, industry development, and the security of a remote population. There are also environmental benefits associated with the decreased transportation of goods to the island. Industries, from agriculture to seafood to forestry to environment, face sector-specific barriers to domestic markets which need to be explored in-depth through consultation with their stakeholders.

  • Action Recommended:
    Newfoundland and Labrador to work with industry groups to develop and implement sector-specific strategies to maximize opportunities for respective local products and services.

  • Action Recommended:
    Newfoundland and Labrador and its crown agencies to review internal procurement processes with an aim to remove barriers for local firms and to encourage local product and service purchases where appropriate.

Renewable Energy

Newfoundland and Labrador’s energy policies trail those in many other North American jurisdictions. A net metering framework was introduced in 2015, but the road to implementation began in 2007 and has yet to be finalized. Net metering, once implemented, will serve individual utility customers and present opportunities for small-scale technology and service providers. However, additional renewable energy programs – like those found in competing jurisdictions – are required for three competitive reasons.

  • First, there are types of large industry which, through the nature of their operations, generate energy (e.g. gasification, biomass). In other jurisdictions, these industries would be able to sell this electricity back to the energy grid through what is known as a Feed-In Tariff (FIT) program. FIT programs do not exist in Newfoundland and Labrador, and as a result companies located here may find themselves at a disadvantage competing on cost when the bottom lines of their competitors benefit from the sale of excesses. This is an obstacle in industry / business attraction and retention, and particularly prevalent in the agriculture, forestry, and manufacturing sectors.

  • Second, there are significant opportunities in Newfoundland and Labrador for renewable energy developments in wind and tidal – opportunities being pursued by local firms. Yet without modern energy programs, these firms must look beyond provincial borders for their projects. This discourages development, investment, and innovation in renewable energy within our province. The solutions developed here could not only provide economic growth and diversification domestically, but also be exported to other island or remote economies facing similar challenges.

  • Third, as global markets are embracing renewable energy, firms selling internationally are increasingly being asked how their products and services interact with renewable energy technologies. This puts firms from Newfoundland and Labrador, who have little access to these technologies, at a disadvantage with their competitors.

Renewable energy development is taking place rapidly worldwide. The longer Newfoundland and Labrador remains closed to modern energy programs, the larger the gap between our province and other jurisdictions will become, and the more exacerbated the problems will be for local firms.

  • Action Recommended:
    Newfoundland and Labrador to immediately implement a net metering program.

  • Action Recommended:
    Newfoundland and Labrador to support renewable energy development, investment, and innovation by introducing support programs such as FITs, standard offer programs, and large renewable procurements.

  • Action Recommended:
    Newfoundland and Labrador to consult with industry on its work with the Pan-Canadian Task Force ‘to reduce the use of diesel fuel to generate electricity in remote communities’ to ensure local firms are prepared to supply solutions when required.

  • Action Recommended:
    Newfoundland and Labrador to investigate potential for renewable energy exports through the Maritime Link, and consult with industry on results.

Innovation

‘Innovation’ is a key factor in the diversification of Newfoundland and Labrador’s economy. Innovation in product, process, service, business model, or market segmentation contributes to the long-term international competitiveness of firms and industries by improving productivity, creating new jobs, and driving new growth.

From a green economy perspective, Newfoundland and Labrador’s balance between economy and environment is challenged by its distance from large markets, population geography, and natural resource dependence. New and creative ideas are required to develop the unique solutions needed to avoid or mitigate the environmental effects of business activities. The solutions found in Newfoundland and Labrador can be exported to other remote, island, or ocean environments.

As innovation does not happen in isolation, and as this province scores low in innovation metrics compared to other jurisdictions, the private sector in Newfoundland and Labrador needs support in establishing the culture necessary to foster innovation.

  • Action Recommended
    Newfoundland and Labrador to give ‘innovation’ a high priority and provide the private sector with the support it needs in obtaining, understanding, recombining, and transforming new knowledge.