Funding for restoring Great Lakes areas of concern

The application submission period for funding under the Great Lakes Protection Initiative is now closed. Please contact us by email at for more information.

In 2018, Canada funded 36 new partner-led projects over four years that support actions to restore and protect Great Lakes water quality and ecosystem health.

Areas of Concern (AOCs) are specific locations designated in 1987 by Canada and the U.S. under Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement where water quality and ecosystem health have been severely degraded by human activity at the local level resulting in a range of issues (for example: contaminated sediment, beach closures, loss of habitat for fish and wildlife, degraded fish and wildlife populations and restrictions on fish consumption). Restoring AOCs contributes to the improvement of Great Lakes water quality and ecosystem health as well as the environmental, economic and social well-being of local communities in the basin.


Support action at the local level to restore water quality and ecosystem health by implementing projects identified in AOCs Remedial Action Plans.

Expected results

To restore water quality and ecosystem health in Canadian Great Lakes AOCs.

Eligible recipients

Applicants may include:

  • conservation authorities
  • Indigenous communities or their governments
  • Indigenous organizations or associations
  • municipalities
  • non-governmental organizations
  • not for profit and for profit organizations
  • research, academic and educational institutions

Geographic scope

14 Canadian Great Lakes AOCs.

Types of projects eligible for funding

Remedial action plans have been developed for each AOC. These plans identify projects required to restore local water quality and aquatic ecosystem health, including projects that contribute to directly eliminating identified “beneficial use impairments” by:

  • restoring degraded habitat
  • remediating contaminated sediment
  • reducing point and non-point pollution

Funding details

  • funding is available on an annual basis
  • projects typically range from $25K to $150K
  • funding can provide up to one-third of total project cost
  • projects may be single or multi-year in nature, to a maximum duration of three years
  • the maximum level (stacking limit) of total government (federal, provincial, territorial and municipal assistance for the same eligible expenditures) assistance for a project will not exceed 100% of the total eligible expenditures of the project

Eligible costs

Only costs which can be directly attributed to carrying out the project will be eligible for funding, including:

  • human resource costs, including salaries and benefitsmanagement and professional service costs, such as accounting, monitoring, communications, official languages translation, audit and legal charges
  • hospitality, travel, and venues/conference expenses in accordance with the Treasury Board Secretariat’s Directive on Travel, Hospitality, Conference, and Event Expenditures;
  • material and supplies costs
  • printing, production and distribution costs
  • equipment and Capital Assets purchase or rental, capital asset purchase is not an eligible expenditure for for-profit recipients;
  • vehicle rental and operation costs
  • contractors required to perform activities related to the project
  • cost associated with land acquisition or other means of land securement (i.e. leases, easements, covenants, or servitudes), land acquisition cost is not an eligible expenditure for for-profit recipients;
  • a reasonable share (20% or less) of overhead and/or administrative costs which are directly attributable to the carrying out of the project;
  • any GST/HST that is not reimbursable by Canada Revenue Agency and any PST not reimbursable by the provinces
  • other incremental expenditures directly related to the project may be considered in exceptional circumstances (as pre-approved by the Minister of the Environment or his/her representatives on the basis of recipient provided statement identifying the need, relevance to the project and the estimated cost. The expenditure should also be included on the cash flow statement submitted by the recipient).

Selection method

Project proposals will be reviewed and final decisions made by the Government of Canada. Project proposals will undergo a 2-stage review process:

  • administrative review to ensure applications are complete and meet program eligibility requirements
  • project evaluation for relevance, feasibility, financial value, project team capacity and other additional benefits

Advice on proposal submissions may be sought from external advisors with knowledge and expertise relevant to the proposal.

Administrative review

To be considered eligible for funding, project proposals must meet the following requirements:

  • proposed project addresses priorities of remedial action plan of a remaining AOC
  • proponent is eligible to receive funding
  • matching funding (a minimum of 2/3 of the total project cost) is identified
  • geographic scope is limited to Canadian AOCs
  • previous year(s) work is on track or complete, if applicable
  • funding will not be used for land acquisition or capital works

The purpose of the 2019/20 call for proposals is to solicit project proposals that implement actions identified in the AOC’s most current remedial action plan, contributing to the restoration of beneficial use impairments (BUIs) and the eventual delisting of the AOCs. Proposals must clearly demonstrate how the project will contribute to the restoration of BUIs or address delisting targets for an AOC.

Project evaluation

Eligible project proposals will be assessed on the extent to which proposals meet the following evaluation criteria:

  • relevance:
    • proposed project contributes to Canada-Ontario Agreement on Great Lakes Water Quality and Ecosystem Health goals as well as results and commitments for AOCs
    • proposed project addresses remedial action plan goals and priorities (for example: is necessary for re-designating a beneficial use impairment; is a priority action for a remedial action plan document; and/or addresses a monitoring or assessment gap)
    • proposed project needs to be undertaken now to be effective
  • project feasibility:
    • proposed project is technically feasible
    • proposed project timeline and work plan is realistic
    • proposed project goals are measurable and the objectives are precisely stated
    • activities within the proposed project support the goals and objectives
    • required permits have been received or identified
  • financial value:
    • proposed budget is realistic
    • proposed project has good value for total dollars spent
    • proponent and its project partners are contributing more than the required minimum
    • partnership funding / support is in place
  • project team capacity:
    • proponent’s capacity (time, expertise, staff and partners) to carry out the proposed project
    • proponent and project partners’ ability to access necessary expertise
    • proponent’s history of successfully implementing similar projects
  • additional benefits:
    • proposed project links to other restoration / monitoring projects in the AOC
    • proposed project includes innovative approaches that could accelerate achievement of delisting
    • proposed project includes public outreach, stewardship or education which would benefit the remedial action plan

Project implementation can begin after notification of project approval, pending the execution of project agreements or contracts where applicable.

To apply for funding

Please submit your application online using the Grants and Contributions Enterprise Management System.

If you require alternate means of completing and submitting an application, please contact

To apply for funding, you are required to include the following information:

  • project background:
    • provide basic information about your group and mandate, contact details for the proposed project as well as the project title, AOC location, proposed start and end dates and project status
  • project details:
    •  provide information about various aspects of the proposed project, including total project value, amount of funding requested for fiscal year 2019-20 and each subsequent year for multi-year proposals, supporting partners or organizations, project purpose, priority focus, applicable beneficial use impairments, how the project contributes to a recommended action(s) under the applicable remedial action plan, key project activities, location map, site description, activities to be undertaken during fiscal year 2019-20 and each subsequent year for multi-year proposals, disbursement of funds, results, schedule of activities, performance monitoring and supporting documentation
  • budget:
    • complete a cash flow statement for expenses related to the proposed project
  • measurable achievements:
    • describe the anticipated results and achievements of the proposed project and how the project would contribute to the AOC’s remedial action plan and/or to results and commitments under Annex 4: areas of concern of the Canada-Ontario Agreement on Great Lakes Water Quality and Ecosystem Health

Other instructions

Applicants are encouraged to provide the details necessary to give a full response to each section of the online application form but should be as concise as possible.

Please ensure you have completed the online application form in its entirety prior to submission. Incomplete applications will not be reviewed.

Applicants may include additional information or documents using the online application form (such as examples of possible end products, photographs, maps, etc.).  If additional material is submitted, it must be clearly referenced in the relevant section of the application.  All such material must be submitted in a PDF format.

Deadline and submission instructions

Applications are due by 17:00 EST on January 11, 2019. Late submissions will not be considered.

Once approvals have been confirmed, all applicants will be notified in writing.  If your project is approved, you will be contacted to negotiate a contribution agreement, which outlines the terms and conditions of funding.  We will work towards completing this process within 40 working days.  Please note that meeting this standard for the development of a contribution agreement is a shared responsibility and largely depends on you submitting all required documentation to Government of Canada officials in a diligent and timely fashion.  

If your project is approved for funding, expenditures made by your organization towards the project after the date of official notification and before the contribution agreement is signed may be considered for reimbursement.

Contact us by email at for more information.

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Areas of Concern

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