First Nation Infrastructure Fund Program Guide 2016-2018

This guide outlines how projects are selected under the First Nation Infrastructure Fund (FNIF) and which projects are eligible for funding. It also lists the criteria used to prioritize eligible projects.

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What is FNIF?

FNIF is the main program through which Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) supports general community infrastructure such as roads and bridges, broadband connectivity, cultural and recreational facilities and other, on reserve. FNIF authorities are detailed in the terms and conditions of the Contribution to Support the Construction and Maintenance of Community Infrastructure, FNIF is managed under the same management processes and controls as  the Capital Facilities and Maintenance Program (CFMP), through which the federal government funds on-reserve community infrastructure, including schools, housing, water and wastewater facilities.

However, FNIF has different authorities from CFMP.

FNIF uses the same Program Control Framework, Performance Management Strategy and project management gating structure as the CFMP.

The goal of FNIF is to improve the quality of life and the environment for First Nation communities. FNIF helps First Nations in the provinces improve and increase public infrastructure on reserves, on Crown Land, and on land set aside for the use and benefit of a First Nation. FNIF also funds those projects off reserve that are cost-shared with non-First Nation partners such as nearby municipalities, or other Indigenous partners such as self-governing First Nations or Inuit organizations.

Who are the eligible recipients of this funding?

FNIF invests in projects that are on reserve, on Crown Land or on lands set aside for the use and benefit of First Nations. FNIF has three classes of eligible recipients:

Proposals for off-reserve projects can be considered if the primary beneficiary is a participating First Nation community or communities. Proposals will also be considered if the off-reserve project will be cost-shared by First Nations on reserve and non-First Nation partners (such as nearby municipalities, or other Indigenous partners, such as self-governing First Nations or Inuit organizations).

For those projects that confer primary (or significant) benefit off reserve, communities can submit proposals to the National Building Canada Fund, managed by Infrastructure Canada.

How is FNIF funded?

FNIF pools funding from four major sources: 

Additional funding may be available on a year-to-year basis from the CFMP or other targeted funds.

With the exception of the Gas Tax Fund, which is managed at the regional level, FNIF funding is managed at INAC headquarters.

There are no stacking limits which apply directly to FNIF. Recipients can receive money from other federal funding sources and the CFMP. If a recipient receives funding from the Building Canada Fund (BCF) portion of the FNIF, Infrastructure Canada may apply a stacking limit.

What is the process for getting a project funded through FNIF?

There are three main stages to having a project funded through FNIF:

  1. Project identification: INAC uses First Nations Infrastructure Investment Plans (FNIIPs) to identify projects for potential FNIF funding. Communities interested in receiving funding from FNIF are encouraged to identify eligible projects on their FNIIP.
  2. Eligibility screening: After projects have been identified through the FNIIPs, project proposals are screened for eligibility.
  3. Prioritization: Eligible projects are then prioritized at a national level based on additional project assessment criteria.

How are projects identified for FNIF funding?

INAC uses FNIIPs to identify projects for potential FNIF funding. Each year, First Nations communities develop FNIIPs and share them with their INAC regional office. In their FNIIPs, First Nations communities provide a detailed list of their five-year community infrastructure plans, including information about projects that have been completed, multi-year projects that are underway and future infrastructure investment needs proposals.

In some cases, the regional offices (in consultation with the First Nations communities) may identify projects that are not documented in a FNIIP. These projects are screened for eligibility and assessed by the same criteria as projects received through the FNIIPs.

The project identification process follows these steps:

  1. Each fall, First Nations submit their community FNIIPs to the INAC regional offices, where projects are screened for eligibility.
  2. In late fall and early winter, INAC regional offices make investment decisions for the Gas Tax Fund portion of FNIF. For the remaining targeted funds of FNIF, INAC headquarters solicits recommendations for projects from the regional offices and/or administers a call for proposals if needed.
  3. Each winter,INAC regional offices identify and submit eligible project proposals to INAC headquarters for funding consideration based on information in the FNIIPs and/or consultations with First Nations or other stakeholders, if applicable.
  4. Each spring, INAC headquarters performs a national assessment and prioritization of all eligible projects identified through the INAC regional offices and/or call for proposals. At this stage, INAC headquarters makes investment decisions for the Building Canada Fund and funding portions of FNIF, including decisions for large-scale projects that might not appear exclusively on one community's FNIIP.  

What infrastructure categories are eligible under FNIF?

After projects have been identified through the FNIIPs, project proposals are screened for eligibility.

To be considered eligible for FNIF, a project must fall within one or more of the eight community infrastructure categories (the last two are new project categories added in 2016)

  1. Planning and skills development
  2. Solid waste management
  3. Roads and bridges
  4. Energy systems (including fuel tanks)
  5. Connectivity
  6. Structural mitigation (previously disaster mitigation)
  7. Fire protection
  8. Cultural and recreational facilities

Consideration is given to local needs and priorities.

If possible, projects are grouped together across different asset categories. This could include site development activities (for example, electrification and water/wastewater servicing) or technical activities of a similar nature (for example, land surveying and hydrogeology).

Are there any other mandatory requirements?

Yes. Projects that fall into one of the eligible project categories must also:

How are projects assessed once they are considered eligible?

Priority may be given to projects that, having met the mandatory and eligibility criteria, also:

Additional factors, such as the enhancement of the cultural and recreational environment in First Nations communities, are considered when assessing proposals for cultural and recreational facilities.

What are the asset specific criteria?

Project proposals are also assessed against criteria specific to project categories:

Category 1: Planning and skills development

Objective: To support investment in community planning and/or skills development projects that will enable long-term, sustainable First Nation community development. It is expected that projects funded under this category would facilitate an improved and increased public infrastructure in the community or area for which the planning activity is being undertaken.

To be included in this category, a project must align with at least one of the following sub-categories:

  • comprehensive community planning
  • capital/infrastructure planning
  • training and awareness related to supporting community infrastructure

Category 2: Solid waste management

Objective: To construct, restore and improve infrastructure that improves solid waste management and increases the recovery and use of recycled and organic materials, reduces per capita tonnage of solid waste sent to landfill, reduces environmental impacts and enhances energy recovery.

To be included in this category, a project must align with at least one of the following sub-categories:

  • waste disposal landfills
  • waste diversion - materials recovery facilities (transfer stations)
  • organics management
  • collection depots
  • thermal treatment
  • landfill gas recuperation

Category 3: Roads and bridges

Objective: To construct, restore or improve public roads and bridges that will improve safety, support tourism and commerce, and support the social and economic development of local areas.

To be included in this category, a project must align with at least one of the following sub-categories:

  • local roads, arterial roads and bridges within local boundaries
  • roads and bridges projects which fall outside local boundaries but provide access to local communities. For this subcategory, the project must include a partnership with the provincial or municipal jurisdiction where the road or bridge is located

The following costs are outside of the FNIF mandate for funding:

  • Driveways to homes and housing subdivisions

Category 4: Energy systems

Objective: To construct, restore or improve local Band-owned infrastructure that optimizes the use of energy sources (for example, in buildings and other installations), accesses provincially owned energy grids and reduces the greenhouse gas emissions and air contaminants arising from local sources.

To be included in this category, a project must align with at least one of the following sub-categories:

  • connecting First Nations communities to provincial or other power grids
  • retrofits (for example, energy efficiency improvements) of local band-owned buildings or other installations such as street lighting
  • energy systems including generation and local distribution (for example,  renewable energy, cogeneration combined heat and power)
  • upgrades and replacement of fuel tanks systems to meet regulatory compliance

Category 5: Connectivity

Objective: To provide under-connected First Nations with better access to nearby regional broadband networks or nearby regional telecommunications rural broadband expansion projects in order to enhance community access to information and broadband technologies.

To be included in this category, a project must align with at least one of the following sub-categories:

  • high-speed backbone (transport) networks
  • broadband points of presence
  • local access networks
  • community satellite equipment

The following costs are outside of the FNIF mandate for funding:

  • direct broadband connectivity connections to homes
  • operations of a telecommunications company or direct service provider

Category 6:  Structural mitigation

The name of this asset category was changed from ‘disaster mitigation' to ‘structural mitigation' in May 2016 to clarify more precisely the scope of projects targeted under this category. Specifically, ‘structural mitigation' refers to the construction of infrastructure, as understood under CFMP and does not include other activities that may be undertaken under the Emergency Management Assistance program.

Objective: To undertake permanent infrastructure projects that modify hazards, including removing, reducing or eliminating them; segregate hazards by keeping them away from people and assets; and alter the design and construction of assets to make them resilient to potential hazards.

Structural mitigation projects are intended to support health and safety, protect Canada's investments in infrastructure assets, support community resilience through strategic investment planning for structure mitigation, and identify value-for-money investments.

To be included in this category, a project must mitigate at least one of the following sub-categories:

  • flood
  • landslide
  • wild fire
  • earthquake
  • other (for example, erosion, hurricanes, tsunamis, ice storms, environmental contamination/degradation)

Category 7:  Fire protection

Objective: To support fire protection in First Nations communities on reserve, where project funding is aligned to the revised Level of Services Standards for fire protection, which includes three graduated levels of support. To access funding in a higher tier, a project must also meet the requirements of the lower tiers.

  • Tier 1: Fire prevention and educational programming
  • Tier 2: Capacity development and training
  • Tier 3: Capital investments

To be included in this category, a project must align with the following Tier 1 priorities, or Tier 1 and 2 priorities, or Tier 1, 2 and 3 priorities:

Tier 1: Fire prevention and educational programming

  • fire prevention and fire education programming
  • individual home safety and household fire prevention
  • examples include a community smoke alarm or fire extinguisher program, and development of educational awareness materials

Each First Nation is expected to meet the Tier 1 level of service to be considered for INAC funding at Tier 2 or Tier 3.

Tier 2: Capacity development and training

  • capacity development, firefighter training, and the effective operation and maintenance of fire protection equipment
  • community fire prevention, including individual home fire safety and enhanced public fire safety governance
  • examples include firefighter training programs or support for regional firefighting organizations to conduct Fire Service Assessments

First Nations are expected to meet the requirements in Tier 2 to be considered for INAC funding at the next tier.

Tier 3: Capital investments

  • planning, design, construction, repair, renovation, and replacement of fire infrastructure, equipment and assets
  • fire services including individual home fire safety, public/community fire safety governance and an operational fire department
  • examples include fire halls, firefighting vehicles, and equipment

At Tier 3, First Nations are expected to have met all the requirements of Tier 1 and Tier 2.

The following specialized services are outside of the CFMP mandate for funding and therefore not included under the Level of Service Standards for Fire Protection:

  • motor vehicle accident response requiring specialized equipment and training, as well as registration with provincial bodies.
  • forest and grass fire response requiring specialized training and advance registration with provincial bodies.
  • emergency management response to natural disasters requiring specialized training.
  • medical emergency response requiring First Responder training and registration with provincial bodies.
  • search and rescue activities and training (e.g. high alpine, water)

Fire service to third parties (e.g. any service off reserve, on-reserve lessees, non-First Nations interests, or ‘for profit' enterprises) should be covered by a fee-for-service contract/reverse Municipal Type Service Agreement.

Category 8: Cultural and recreational facilities

Objective: To address long-standing needs related to cultural and recreational facilities on reserve.

To be included in this category, a project must align with at least one of the following sub-categories:

  • community centers and halls
  • arenas
  • museums
  • other infrastructure that reflects the First Nation's heritage or that encourages community members to adopt more active, healthier lifestyles, such as playgrounds, parks or baseball diamonds

Which costs are covered under FNIF?

Type of cost Eligible Ineligible
Capital costs of acquiring, constructing or renovating a tangible capital asset
  • up to 10% of such costs can include training for the construction, renovation, operations and maintenance of the asset
Yes  
Fees paid to qualified professionals, technical personnel, consultants and contractors specifically engaged to undertake the surveying, design, engineering, manufacturing or construction of a project infrastructure asset and related facilities and structures Yes  
Costs of environmental assessments, monitoring, and follow-up programs as required by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act for an eligible project Yes  
Incremental costs related to strengthening the ability of First Nation communities to develop their:
  • infrastructure maintenance capacity
  • planning capacity
  • First Nation Infrastructure Investment Plans (under the planning and skills development category)
Yes  
Existing community planning processes, other than in relation to the First Nation Infrastructure Investment Plans   No
Eligible project costs incurred after conditional project approval Yes  
Project costs incurred before conditional approval of a project   No
Other costs that are considered to be direct and necessary for the successful implementation of a project and that have been approved in advance by INAC Yes  
Services or work that, in INAC's opinion, are normally provided by the First Nation community, a federal department or a related party   No
Salaries and other employment benefits of any employees of the First Nation community   No
Incremental costs of the First Nation community's employees or equipment if all of the following conditions are met:
  • the First Nation community has determined, and INAC's regional office agrees, that it is not economically feasible to tender a contract
  • the employee or equipment are employed directly in respect of the work that is the subject of the contract
  • the arrangement is approved in advance and is outlined in writing by INAC's regional office
Yes  
Salary costs to support planning and skills development projects are also permitted under all of the following conditions:
  • the salary is incremental to existing funded positions
  • the tasks to be performed by the position are well-defined and related to the project
  • the arrangement is approved in advance and is outlined in writing by INAC's regional office
Yes  
Costs for the continued operations and maintenance of assets and any salaries associated with these activities   No
Recipient's overhead costs, its direct or indirect operating or administrative costs, and more specifically its costs related to planning, engineering, architecture, supervision, management and other activities normally carried out by its staff   No
Costs of feasibility studies for individual projects   No
Taxes for which the recipient is eligible for a tax rebate and all other costs eligible for rebates   No
Costs of land, including its acquisition, or any interest therein, and related costs   No
Cost of leasing of equipment by the recipient   No
Legal fees   No
Routine repair and maintenance costs   No
Audit and evaluation costs   No
Asset specific costs outside of the scope FNIF's authorities:
  • driveways to homes and housing subdivisions
  • direct broadband connectivity connections to homes
  • operations of a telecommunications company or direct service provider
  • motor vehicle accident response requiring specialized equipment and training, as well as registration with provincial bodies
  • forest and grass fire response requiring specialized training and advance registration with provincial bodies
  • emergency management response to natural disasters requiring specialized training
  • medical emergency response requiring first responder training and registration with provincial bodies
  • search and rescue activities and training (for example, high alpine, water)
  No

To submit a proposal

If you wish to submit a proposal to INAC under your community's FNIIP, please contact your community's First Nation band office or other administrative unit responsible for infrastructure in your community.

If you require more information on the FNIF program, please contact your INAC regional office.

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