Last week, the City of Toronto launched its innovative new Home Energy Loan Program (HELP). This financing program is unique in Canada in that loan payments to the City can be made over a period of up to 15 years as a special (local improvement) charge indicated on the property tax bill. There are many advantages of this approach. HELP allows homeowners to avoid the large upfront cost of home energy improvements and pay for them over time. If the property is sold before the loan is repaid, the new owner will assume the balance of the loan and continue to repay it through the property tax bill. In many cases, the loan payments will be less than the energy savings obtained, giving homeowners immediate relief on their energy bills.
The program is initially being offered in four areas of the city - Black Creek, Toronto Centre/Riverdale/Beaches, Junction/High Park, and South Scarborough. Additional areas will be added during the three year pilot. The City is also allocating $10 million of financing for multi-unit housing as part of its Tower Renewal program.
A wide cross section of Ottawa stakeholders including Ecology Ottawa has been encouraging the City of Ottawa to offer the same type of financing program to homeowners and multi-unit buildings. See the latest letter to Mayor and Council here, and also check out our Promising Practises profile of the Toronto Program. This type of program would give Ottawa residents welcome relief from high energy bills while at the same time reducing Ottawa's carbon footprint. Because it involves a loan and not a grant, the City can recover all of its costs - truly a win-win initiative that any councillor seeking re-election this year should support.