TORONTO — The Jewish community of Toronto can make better use of available public funds for infrastructure.
That was the message conveyed to an audience of about 50 people at an Oct. 27 information session at Adath Israel Congregation last week convened by James Pasternak, Toronto District School Board trustee for Ward 5 (York Centre).
“One of the greatest challenges the Jewish community is facing is how to renew its aging infrastructure,” Pasternak said. “The biggest expense many institutions have, after wages, is the cost of infrastructure maintenance.”
Pasternak, who is Jewish, told The CJN that he wanted community members to know that while many of Toronto’s synagogues, Jewish communal buildings and schools are aging, there is money out there that can be tapped from various municipal and federal sources.
One of these is the City of Toronto’s Better Buildings Partnership program, which provides “financial assistance for energy efficient retrofits and construction of Toronto buildings” according to the program’s website.
The other funding source Pasternak touted was Natural Resource Canada’s “ecoEnergy Retrofit Incentive for Buildings” program, which offers up to $250,000 for eligible organizations to “implement energy-saving projects in commercial and institutional buildings.”
Two speakers from these programs – Victor da Rosa, project manager for the academic sector of Toronto’s partnership program, and Grant Miles from Natural Resources Canada’s office of energy efficiency – spoke at last week’s event about their funding opportunities.
Bill Chihata, a porfolio manager from Enbridge Gas Distribution, also spoke.
Pasternak noted that most of the finances available through the government programs are “cost-shared” initiatives.
“You have to have a project on the go or ‘shovel ready’ and also have some funds in hand,” he cautioned. “Depending on what you’re doing and how you’re going about doing it, the government could match up to half [the financing].”
He said organizations can maximize their chances at securing funding if they are implementing “eco” initiatives.
“That’s the area where you’ll be most likely to tap into funds,” Pasternak said.
Asked why he personally organized this event, Pasternak responded that since he was elected in 2006, he has hosted three events geared to informing the Jewish community about programs that could help it.
“Governments at all levels have hundreds of programs that are of great benefit to the communities that they serve. Most [communities] don’t know about them,” he said.
“The reality is there are opportunities here, and if we don’t apply for them, other groups will take them.”