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Infrastructure, Resource

Canada Infrastructure Bank joins forces with City of Richmond to push utility grid to next level

Warren Frey
Canada Infrastructure Bank joins forces with City of Richmond to push utility grid to next level

A growing region of the Lower Mainland may see a significant electrical expansion with a little help from Canada’s new infrastructure bank.  

The Canada Infrastructure bank (CIB) and the City of Richmond’s Lulu Island Energy Company have signed a memorandum of understanding to formalize collaboration on development of a new district energy project in Richmond, B.C.

“This is CIB’s first opportunity in British Columbia. CIB is proud to partner with Lulu Island Energy Company and the City of Richmond. District energy is aligned with federal government and CIB priorities to invest in green infrastructure and there is potential for this project to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” CIB president and CEO Pierre Lavallee said.

The new system would expand Richmond’s current district energy system from 330,000 square metres to more than 4.7 million square metres over time conditional on approval by Richmond city council.

“The overall scope and geographic footprint is a quantum increase over the current system,” Lavallee said, adding the system will produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions (GHGS).

“It’s a sustainable, efficient use of energy, and the total energy footprint of heating and cooling using district energy, even factoring in pumps, is far more efficient. There are much lower GHG emissions and in B.C. electricity is generated by hydro power,” he said.

The system will use ground source heat pump technology to extract geothermal energy via a vertical pipe network once the system is fully built out.

Lavallee said the CIB has been in discussions for several months in order to get acquainted with those involved in the project and understand its scope as well as the bank’s role in development.


In the last year we engaged in discussions on 135 projects,

— Pierre Lavallee

Canada Infrastructure Bank


“It’s not the only thing we’ll ever do in B.C., but it’s the project that’s the most advanced and it’s at a stage where it made sense to release (information about) our involvement and advisor relationship with the City of Richmond and Lulu,” Lavallee said.

Lulu Island Energy Company is a wholly owned municipal corporation established to operate district energy systems in Richmond, B.C. The city’s official plan calls for higher density and mixed-use buildings in future residential and commercial development, and one of the CIB’s priority sectors for investment is expansion of green infrastructure.

Lavallee said while the Lulu Island project is good partnership to highlight, the CIB is also working on other projects in various stages across western Canada and the rest of the nation.

“We are definitely working on many projects and potential projects in western Canada and across Canada, and this is a great one to point to specifically but there’s more in store. In the last year we engaged in discussions on 135 projects, 35 projects in the last quarter, 25 projects are in the detailed diligence stage and when you look at the various groups, it covers all priority sectors, geographies and various sizes as well,” Lavalee said.

“We’re proving the CIB model can apply in smaller areas, in cities such as Richmond and in large areas such as Toronto and Montreal,” he added.

“The City of Richmond has received international recognition for its leadership in developing district energy systems designed to reduce carbon emissions while delivering an affordable and reliable heating and cooling source for thousands of residents, commercial and institutional users. As an important component of Richmond’s community planning, district energy systems provide sustainable and economic energy sources. Partnering with Canada Infrastructure Bank on our City Centre district energy utility is an excellent opportunity to further our energy efficiency and resiliency for many years to come,” Richmond mayor Malcolm Brodie said in a statement from the CIB, Lulu Island Energy Company and the City of Richmond.

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