TORONTO, June 12, 2014 - Climate change means more than just a rise in average temperatures. It also means an increase in extreme and unpredictable weather events, changes in water quality and availability in different regions. This can have a significant impact on urbanized areas, where so many people often depend on a single source of fresh water. The RBC Blue Water Project 2014 Leadership and Community Action Grants will fund programs that improve urban water quality, enhance stormwater management and protect and restore urban waterways.
'Water is one of the most precious resources on earth. Everything we do depends on it - it is vital to our social and economic well-being,' said Gord Nixon, CEO, RBC. 'We are honoured to support the important efforts of this year's grant recipients, whose programs reflect our new focus on water issues in urbanized areas, where so many of our employees and clients live and work. I am confident that these organizations will help create a future with swimmable, drinkable and fishable water.'
This year, RBC Blue Water Project Leadership and Community Action Grants, total more than $2.7 million in funding for fresh water protection and preservation programs. Awarded on the company's annual RBC Blue Water Day, these grants support 134 organizations spanning seven countries, including Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, the Bahamas, China, Chile and Australia.
'It's been said that 2013 was the 'year of the urban
flood',' said Robert Sandford, Chair of the UN Water for Life Decade and
spokesperson for the RBC Blue Water Project. 'The infrastructure in our towns
and cities just wasn't built to withstand the impact of extreme weather events,
so I'm very happy to see that so many of RBC's grants are directed to stormwater
management, which I believe is one of most pressing issues of our time.'
About RBC Blue Water Project
The RBC Blue Water Project is a historic, wide-ranging, 10-year global commitment to help protect the world's most precious natural resource: fresh water. Since 2007, RBC has pledged nearly $41 million to more than 700 charitable organizations worldwide that protect water, including the grants announced today, with an additional $8.8 million pledged to universities for water programs. In 2013-2014, the RBC Blue Water Project will focus on supporting initiatives that help protect water in towns, cities and urbanized areas. For further information, visit www.rbc.com/bluewater.
About RBC Community and Sustainability
Royal Bank of Canada (RY on TSX and NYSE) is Canada's largest bank and one of the largest banks in the world, based on market capitalization. We employ approximately 79,000 full- and part-time employees who serve more than 16 million personal, business, public sector and institutional clients through offices in Canada, the U.S. and 42 other countries. For more information, please visit rbc.com. RBC is recognized among the world's financial, social and environmental leaders and is listed on the 2014 Dow Jones Sustainability World Index, the DJSI North American Index, the Jantzi Social Index and the FTSE4Good Index. RBC is one of Canada's Greenest Employers, and one of Canada's 50 Most Socially Responsible Corporations.
RBC supports a broad range of community initiatives through donations, sponsorships and employee volunteer activities. In 2013, we contributed more than $104 million to causes worldwide, including donations and community investments of more than $69 million and $35 million in sponsorships. Learn more at www.rbc.com/community-sustainability.
RBC Blue Water Project Leadership and Community Action Grants
Note: Financial references throughout are in Canadian dollars unless otherwise indicated.
NATIONAL - CANADA
Canadian Water Research Society, $85,000: Governing the transboundary Columbia River basin is a tough balancing act - it is becoming increasingly difficult to manage the water, power and flood control operations of urban centres, ecosystem values (salmon and recreation) and the interests and rights of First Nations and Tribes. This organization seeks to negotiate the modernization of the Columbia River Treaty, use international best practices in transboundary water governance and build capacity for First Nations, Tribes and others to engage in basin stewardship.
Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, $100,000: This initiative will show how the effective management of tributaries and the broader watershed can help mitigate floods and control stormwater while reducing contaminants entering the Great Lakes. This project supports the Cities Initiatives Municipal Adaptation and Resilience Service to help cities prepare for climate change.
Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, $100,000: The organization's mission is to promote swimmable, drinkable, fishable water. With this grant, LOW will recruit and mentor emerging influencers and establish a national repository for insights on water issues through thought-leader retreats and residencies at The National Water Centre.
Leave No Trace Canada/Sans Trace Canada, $35,000: This project aims to prevent and reduce the negative impact of recreational activities on bodies of water and riversides by promoting behaviour change.
Red River Basin Commission, $35,000: This organization, in collaboration with Lake Friendly, Manitoba Hydro, the Province of Manitoba, Green Manitoba, Ducks Unlimited, International Institute for Sustainable Development, Manitoba Conservation Districts Association and the Manitoba Museum, is working to develop the 'Do What Matters' program for municipalities - a compilation of best practices for cities, towns, and municipalities to support sustainable water management and protection. The Red River Basin Commission will promote this program through a basin-wide outreach strategy.
TIDES Canada Initiatives Society, $100,000: The Waterlution Hub Network will host scenario planning on Cities of the Future and support Hubs in Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver. The program will host young leaders and interested members of the public to participate in a nine-month series of events for collaborating, visioning and designing innovative water cities of the future. Each city will produce an action plan report for the next 25 years.
Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen, $90,000: The Okanagan is the most water-stressed region in Canada, with growing cities, thirsty agriculture, and a semi-arid climate. More efficient water use is essential to meet all needs, and protect the environment. This initiative consists of a valley-wide hands-on conservation and rain-garden education program for the public and landscaping industry.
Local organizations: $68,500 in Community Action Grants will be shared by these 14 organizations in British Columbia:
Alberta Riparian Habitat Management Society, $22,400: The organization will work alongside the Alberta Low Impact Development Partnership Society to promote urban stormwater and riparian management. They will capture and share local success stories about low impact development and riparian management through videos, digital outreach and workshops.
Bow River Basin Council Society, $85,000: This grant will be used to assess and develop a sub-regional wetland implementation and management plan to reduce water pollution and urban runoff. The plan will be one component of a systems-wide approach to reduce stormwater runoff in major urban centre and some rural areas. The Co-operative Stormwater Management Initiative will work collaboratively to apply stormwater solutions throughout the larger east region of Calgary.
Municipality of Wood Buffalo, $50,000: The Phase 6B Miskanaw Golf Course Redevelopment project will construct a 10-million gallon holding pond to capture reclaimed waste water for golf course irrigation, significantly reducing the usage of municipal freshwater.
Oldman Watershed Council, $57,880: The Oldman watershed in southern Alberta is home to 210,000 people living in the City of Lethbridge and 34 towns and hamlets who depend on it for clean fresh water. The Council has embarked on a year-and-a-half long process to develop the community-led Headwaters Action Plan which will protect the integrity of the Oldman watershed along the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains.
Ecotrust, $50,000: This project will improve water quality in Whitehorse and Fairbanks by expanding the Alaska Logbook tool to include water quality monitoring capabilities, and then building awareness and involvement in water quality issues among area Tribes and First Nations. Ecotrust will partner with the Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council to train local Indigenous communities in how to use the tool, share education on water quality issues and outline community-level watershed plans.
Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative (Y2Y), $15,000: Under the Alberta Headwaters Project, Y2Y will develop an innovative and broadly-supported program to protect Alberta's headwaters. A partner network will work together to protect wildlife habitat, reduce conflicts between land users, increase public awareness of watershed values, protect ecosystem services and drought control, and influence upcoming land use planning processes.
Local organizations: $27,200 in Community Action Grants will be shared by these five organizations in Alberta:
Ducks Unlimited Canada, $100,000: Saskatoon's population is set to grow substantially over the next 50 years. This growth, along with increasing upstream demands and climate change, will affect the amount of water available from the South Saskatchewan River. Ducks Unlimited Canada will spearhead educational initiatives about wetland loss, stormwater management, and flooding.
Meewasin Valley Authority, $49,000: The Northeast Swale, an ancient former river channel, consists of hundreds of hectares of prairie, riparian and wetland that has recently been incorporated into an urban setting and will be surrounded by residential development. The Meewasin Valley Authority will conduct resource- management field work with volunteers, in order to protect the Swale during this critical period of change.
Local organizations: RBC has awarded a $3,000 Community Action Grant to the Regina Catholic School Division.
MANITOBA ECO-NETWORK INC, $60,000: In partnership with Green Communities Canada's RAIN Program, Green Action Centre and BUILD (Building Urban Industries for Local Development), this project will address the impact of Winnipeg's urban runoff on lakes and streams. These organizations will be working with communities, municipalities, and property owners to set up demonstration sites using proven stormwater management solutions to maximize natural filtration and reduce run-off contamination.
Sierra Club of Canada Foundation (SCCF), $60,000: This organization, through their Pickering/Paradise Project, will work to create a swimmable beach at Paradise Park in Ajax along the Lake Ontario shoreline. This project will create bioswale infrastructure inland from the beach to capture and filter urban runoff. SCCF will partners with the cities of Ajax, Toronto, the Region Conservation Authority and community volunteers to plant the bioswales with native wetland plants.
The Living City Foundation, $75,000: Situated in Canada's largest city, the Toronto and Region Conservation (TRCA) works to protect the region's urban watersheds. Sustainable Neighbourhood Retrofit Action Plan (SNAP) supports retrofit programs which target older communities and support urban renewal and sustainable homeowner behaviour, creating uniquely tailored solutions to environmental and community needs. They identify integrated solutions to urban water infrastructure retrofit, local climate change adaptation and resiliency to more frequent and intense storms, intended to enhance water quality and reduce water usage. The program, the first of its kind, is an innovative model for sustainable urban renewal that has measurable environmental impact.
Ladies of the Lake Conservation Association, $30,000: This organization nurtures water thinkers and engages people using the Lake Simcoe watershed as a 21st century living laboratory - a centre for innovation, research and learning. The grant will help establish a leading-edge urban farm demonstration site called ClearWater, focused on wise water management, and the resulting knowledge exchange will help improve the quality of water for 22 municipalities within Lake Simcoe's watershed.
The Land Between, $20,000: Development pressures around shorelines are resulting in deterioration of valuable ecosystems and clean water for local municipalities. This project, the first phase of a 4-year effort, focuses on Haliburton County. This grant will support a multi-partner stewardship approach involving shoreline audits, education, demonstration sites, landowner incentives, and water quality monitoring to naturalize shorelines and measurably improve water quality.
Hamilton Conservation Foundation, $45,000: This project will decrease stress on existing stormwater infrastructure and increase water quality in Dundas, Ontario, by empowering landowners, schools and volunteers to reverse the spread of paved surfaces. The Foundation will plant native species along creeks to limit bank erosion and publicly recognize individuals and businesses who have already undertaken similar actions.
Rare Charitable Research Reserve, $80,000: The Chain of Learning Linking Water and Youth project will expand the organization's research facilitation, restoration and education efforts focused on water issues. The project will restore a provincially significant cold-water stream, educate students, build community awareness, engagement and influence policy and management of water issues nationally and internationally.
Rideau Valley Conservation Foundation, $50,000: The City Stream Watch program gathers environmental information from over 40 of the most neglected urban creeks through a series of rotating assessments carried out by trained and supervised 'citizen scientists'. The expansion of the program from its origins in the Rideau Valley to include the Mississippi Valley, will enable the implementation of a program across a major watershed within the City of Ottawa.
St Lawrence River Institute of Environmental Sciences, $50,000: This collaborative project will develop a program to promote citizen awareness and encourage flood-proofing measures. Based on the premise that everyone in the community can help reduce urban floods, the initiative will develop demonstration projects and workshops for community groups and homeowners and provide action-based tips for residential flood-proofing in urban environments.
Local organizations: $136,800 in Community Action Grants will be shared by these 24 local organizations in Ontario:
Fondation de la faune du Québec, $50,000: This project will design various wildlife developments to improve the quality of water and the aquatic habitats in Laval's primary waterways. The organization will leverage the expertise it has gained from improving streams and rivers in several drainage basins in large cities around Quebec.
Comité Zone d'Intervention Prioritaire des Seigneuries, $50,000: This organization will use its grant to stabilize the embankments and stop erosion of the St. Lawrence River by placing rocks along the shoreline, planting a vegetation cover to restore the wetlands and riparian area, and educating the general public about aquatic environments.
La Croisée de Longueil Inc., $30,000: This organization will use its grant to raise awareness about rainwater management, through panels and environmental workshops that share knowledge about best management practices.
Les Amis des Jardins de Métis, $25,000: Through innovative approaches to landscaping, community consultations and the involvement of the best designers from Canada and around the world, this project will create a landscape laboratory with water as the core component.
Local organizations: $35,000 in Community Action Grants will be shared by these six local organizations in Quebec:
Atlantic Coastal Action Program Cape Breton, $35,000: To counter the water pollution, erosion and flooding, in Cape Breton Regional Municipality, this project will implement 12 residential rain gardens, three commercial/public rain gardens and three educational workshops to enhance stormwater management.
The Clean Nova Scotia Foundation, $40,000: The Community Stormwater Engagement Project combines youth education and action, residential stormwater management, community events and a highly visible demonstration site. This project will build capacity in the community of Yarmouth to effectively and sustainably manage stormwater. Direct measures, such as installing rain barrels and planting trees, will produce immediate improvements.
Local organizations: $47,300 in Community Action Grants will be shared by these seven local organizations in Atlantic Canada:
Lancaster Farmland Trust, $65,000 USD: The Chesapeake Bay, the world's largest and most biologically diverse estuary is dying. Agricultural practices and unmanaged urban stormwater are dumping pollutants into the Bay each year. Lancaster Farmland Trust will develop and implement a program to provide low-cost green infrastructure solutions that will help clean up the Bay by linking together urban and rural landscapes to improve water quality and meet regulatory requirements.
Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association, $60,000 USD: This project will achieve measurable improvements in water quality and freshwater habitats in three locations: Peddie Lake in Hightstown, where pollution has degraded the lake for swimming and fishing,; Harry's Brook and the Millstone River in Princeton, where stormwater runoff is causing flooding and water pollution; and the Lower Millstone River, where dams have affected fisheries in Manville and other towns.
Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), $93,640 USD: The Bronx River flows along the eastern side of the Bronx Zoo, operated by the WCS. Proximity to the river significantly enhances the visitors' experience, but poses its own issues of flooding and contaminated stormwater. WCS will implement green construction in strategic locations by building permeable pathways that will help reduce flooding and maintain a healthier flowing river.
Local organizations: $200,000 USD in Community Action Grants will be shared by these 37 organizations in the United States:
Landcare Australia, $10,000: The organization's Protecting Our Urban Waterways Program will engage community volunteers in a range of urban water conservation activities including water quality monitoring, garbage and weed removal. Landcare Australia will work with a number of local organizations to coordinate on the ground activities and encourage engagement by local volunteers to protect and restore urban waterways in the Greater Sydney region.
Peter Cullen Water and Environment Ltd, $40,000: The Trust Leadership Program develops water leaders' awareness of urban water issues, communication and leadership skills in order to become better influencers for critical water management decision-making. Successful graduates are awarded a Peter Cullen Trust (PCT) Fellowship and receive ongoing mentoring from Australian senior leaders, and raise awareness of urban water issues within their organizations, communities, states and around Australia.
Fundación Kennedy para la conservación de los Humedales, $20,000: Laguna El Peral is an important protected area off the coast of central Chile. Due to climate change and urban development, the lake has suffered significant degradation. Fundación Kennedy will estimate the deficit in the water balance of the lake as well as engage the residents to assist in recording the systems of sewage disposal and evaluate possible treatment alternatives. The newly gathered information will help design a system of artificial supply of treated wastewater.
The Shangri-la Institute for Sustainable Communities, $10,000: Rapid economic growth and intensive agricultural practices have resulted in the degradation of water quality, putting the country's natural resources under threat. This project will engage students and community members along the Dong River to and encourage them to become active participants in sustainable water resource management and inspire the broader community to take action.
The College of The Bahamas, $75,000: In partnership with the Water and Sewerage Corporation, The Nature Conservancy, and other hotel industry partners, the College will raise awareness on the important role water plays in maintaining the tourism industry in the capital city of Nassau as well as promote effective conservation and management of the city's water resources.
Durrell Wildife Conservation Trust, $75,000: The Managing Blue Water at Durrell Wildlife Park project will monitor and reduce water use from bore holes and increase sustainability of operations in the park site. The project will also promote responsible water usage among the public and frequent park visitors including school children.
The Woodland Trust, $50,000: The Natur Flow project promotes the benefits of managing and restoring natural habitats through sustainable natural alternatives to traditional flood risk management. It will reduce local flood risk across the Sussex River using natural in-stream and floodplain interventions, engaging with the local community to perform audits and highlight the ways that everyone can contribute towards reduced flood risk.
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For media enquiries, please contact:
Sophia Massari, Communications, RBC, 416-974-7503