On Wednesday, the Government of Canada announced the launch of a new Homeowner Resilient Rebuild Program for the Village of Lytton, British Columbia, which was devastated by a wildfire that began on June 30, 2021 and ultimately became one of the worst severe weather events in Canada that year.
The $6M program will provide top-up grants to eligible Lytton homeowners who are rebuilding their homes to meet one of three standards:
Fire-resilient homes are typically constructed using non-combustible materials such as metal or asphalt roofing, and utilize design features such as enclosed gutters and eaves. Net-zero homes usually entail tighter building envelopes and include renewable energy features such as solar panels that make the home about 80% more energy-efficient than non-net-zero homes. Net-zero-ready homes are the same, but without a renewable energy system.
To be eligible for the Homeowner Resilient Rebuild Program, applicants have to be homeowners of a property located either within the Village of Lytton or within 15 km of Lytton, and the home has to have been "fully destroyed" by the June 30 wildfire. The Government of Canada did not provide a clear definition of what would be considered "fully destroyed."
Those who are eligible can receive a grant of $10,000 towards a fire-resilient rebuild. If opting to go the net-zero route, homeowners can receive an additional grant of $24/sq. ft + $45,000, while those who go the net-zero-ready route can get $24/sq. ft + $12,500.
Residents of Lytton previously voiced concerns that the high climate standards being prescribed for Lytton are slowing down the rebuilding of Lytton and are "too onerous," to the point that they may dissuade residents from wanting to return or rebuild. The new program appears to be aiming to address those concerns by reducing the financial burden.
The $6M in funding for the program is coming from the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada (PacifiCan). Announcing the Homeowner Resilient Rebuild Program on Wednesday, Minister of International Development Harjit S. Sajjan -- who is also responsible for PacifiCan -- said that applications for the program are now open.
Sajjan also said that the Canadian Home Builders' Association will be available to connect potential applicants with certified net-zero builders that can help guide applicants through the building process.
This new program is the third that the Government of Canada has announced to help Lytton recover from the wildfire. The first was the Lytton Business Restart Program, which will provide $7.2M to help small and medium-sized businesses get back on their feet. That program is not expected to launch until sometime this summer.
Also announced, in June 2022, was $64M provided through Infrastructure Canada that will go towards rebuilding the Village of Lytton to construct fire-resistant and net-zero public buildings.