Two municipalities in the southeast will benefit from an announcement made last week by Efficiency Manitoba.

Efficiency Manitoba announced that through its Community Energy Efficiency Program, it is providing funding and support over a two year period to enable four Manitoba municipalities to hire and train an Energy Efficiency Advocate. These Energy Efficiency Advocates will create plans to help their communities lower their energy consumption and bills by participating in Efficiency Manitoba's programs.

The two municipalities in the southeast to receive support through this program are the Village of St. Pierre and the Rural Municipality of De Salaberry. They are joined by the Rural Municipality of Hamiota and the Rural Municipality of Lorne.

Eco-West Canada will be working with St. Pierre and De Salaberry. Executive Director Dany Robidoux says essentially they will be the advocate for these two bilingual municipalities.

"We'll be the ones who will be in the community and engaging with the community on this front," says Robidoux. "Our hope is that the lessons that we're going to be able to learn through this initiative will allow us to serve even more municipalities in the future."

Robidoux gives a couple of examples of the types of energy efficiency programs they might try to encourage in St. Pierre and De Salaberry. He notes on the residential side there is the home insulation program, which is currently available through Efficiency Manitoba. On the municipal side, Robidoux says there are initiatives through Efficiency Manitoba encouraging the replacement of windows and doors.

"We're going to be looking at how do we get the communities to participate in those types of programs, but again also trying to leverage additional funding for additional work to be done on buildings such as arenas and workshops and municipal offices," adds Robidoux.

As mentioned, this is a two year initiative. Robidoux says he anticipates their partnership with St. Pierre and De Salaberry could start as soon as next month. He says year one will probably be about laying the groundwork for the major projects. His desire would be that in year two they would have some success with some funding applications in order to see some building retrofits happen in the municipality.

Robidoux notes the contract for their work is paid through Efficiency Manitoba and the participating municipalities.

"We're pleased to provide funding to municipalities to offset a substantial portion of an Energy Efficiency Advocate's salary," says Colleen Kuruluk, Chief Executive Officer of Efficiency Manitoba. "By providing this support, we're removing some of the financial constraints that communities may face when attempting to set energy efficiency goals and develop an action plan to achieve them."

"The timing for this is really good," says Robidoux.

He notes there is a lot of news coming from the federal government about reaching carbon neutrality by 2050.

"I think for us we're really happy to be able to play a role in all of this," adds Robidoux. "Not only identify the funding that's out there but also access the funding so that real change can start taking place here in Manitoba."