Niagara Region wind farm secures $31 million loan

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Ontario Construction News staff writer

Vancity Community Investment Bank (VCIB) and Six Nations of the Grand River Development Corporation have announced $31 million funding for the 230 mw Niagara Region Wind Farm. The 77-turbine wind farm was developed by Boralex Inc. and is the second largest in Ontario.

Refinancing, according to VCIB, supports Indigenous participation in the clean energy economy and will free up additional funds for the Six Nations of the Grand River Community.

“Supporting Indigenous economic development is one of the pillars of VCIB’s values-driven approach,” said Vince Gasparro, managing director of clean energy financing at VCIB. “We’re pleased to partner with SNGRDC and the OFA to find a creative financing solution that benefits the Six Nations community and advances Canada’s net-zero transition.”

The loan will be used to refinance a portion of SNGRDC’s 50 per cent ownership stake in the wind farm and is one of 20 projects in the SNGRDC portfolio that provides a revenue stream for the Six Nations community through the sale of electricity to the Ontario grid.

According to proponents, the financing “illustrates the benefits of Indigenous participation in Ontario’s clean energy economy.” Through the SNGRDC, profits are invested in critical infrastructure and grassroots projects for the Six Nations community through a transparent, community-led application-based process administered by the Six Nations of the Grand River Economic Development Trust.

“Building critical infrastructure, including energy infrastructure, is part of our plan to drive Ontario’s economic recovery and prosperity,” said Peter Bethlenfalvy, Ontario’s minister of finance. “I am pleased that the Aboriginal Loan Guarantee Program has supported this refinancing transaction that will further economic development opportunities for the Six Nations community.”

The agreement highlights how public-private financing partnerships can play a role in advancing community economic development. A $23 million guarantee by the Province of Ontario through its Aboriginal Loan Guarantee Program enabled VCIB to provide a larger loan on advantageous terms, which will position SNGRDC to direct more funds back to the community.

Since 2016, SNGRDC has invested over $12 million of surplus profits back into the Six Nations of the Grand River community. Projects have included the installation of watermains, the purchase of fire trucks and fire equipment, and also grassroots initiatives like Rekindling Our Fires Suicide Prevention awareness, The Golden Spoon elders outreach program and Two Row on the Grand Cultural Programming.

Six Nations of the Grand River Development Corporation (SNGRDC) manages the Six Nations’ economic interests in 20 renewable energy projects and numerous economic development opportunities, in and around the Six Nations territory.

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