City of Peterborough Developing a Local Improvement Charge

In 2018, the City of Peterborough was working towards creating a framework for a Local Improvement Charge (LIC), which is a recommended action in the City’s Climate Change Action Plan as it pertains to mitigation. The LIC was intended to provide a funding mechanism for residents to make adaptive and mitigative changes to their homes and properties. The LIC framework applies the charge to the participating owner’s property tax bill and is removed once the cost of the retrofit is recovered by the established entity. While traditionally LICs have been used to fund mitigation-related retrofits, the City of Peterborough was intending to expand their LIC to include adaptation-related considerations. The adaptation actions were intended to tie into the City’s new Stormwater Quality Master Plan that includes subsidies, and a Stormwater Management credit program based on variable rates for Stormwater Management protection fees. Mitigative actions for the LIC could include energy retrofits, while adaptive actions could include lot-level flood resiliency actions. As of 2020, this LIC was never fully implemented due to resource and funding constraints. However, the City continues to look for new ways of piloting this, and similar, projects. Securing multiple sources of funding early on in the project remains the biggest lesson learned.

Identifying Actions

Developing the framework for the Local Improvement Charge (LIC) in the City of Peterborough began in February 2017. An LIC functions by having the City facilitate a low-interest loan to a homeowner in order to cover the cost of energy retrofitting their home. This loan is then repaid over a set period of time, as an additional charge on the city tax bill. With this general framework in mind, it was up to the Project Lead and the established team of corporate and community stakeholders to determine how the LIC would be implemented in the Peterborough context (i.e., funding options, local partners, frameworks for home audits, program parameters, etc.).

One of the first steps taken was to hire a Trent University’s Masters Student to coordinate the LIC project – they reported directly to the Project Lead and provided consistent support to the project over the course of the year. As part of the stakeholder engagement process, the Project Lead reached out to the already established Sustainable Peterborough Community Climate Change Working Group, which consists of internal and external stakeholders with expertise in sustainability, energy, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction, and climate change policy. This group was engaged throughout the course of the LIC project. An LIC Steering Committee was later initiated to provide direction on the LIC and to work through varying options. The next step was to conduct research into other existing LIC frameworks in other municipalities and discuss their implementation and varying degrees of success. The Project Lead held meetings with the City’s Director of Finance and Director of Community Services in order to achieve corporate approval of the project.


This LIC project was never piloted due to funding and staffing constraints.

Outcomes and Monitoring Progress

Due to limited project funding, this LIC program was never implemented at the City. Challenges the City encountered during the development of this include difficulty finding local service delivery agents for home audits with adaptation and mitigation design and project management skills. There was also not enough staff time to due competing work loads. Lessons learned with regard to this project include the need to identify multiple sources of funding early on in the process in order to ensure the project can move forward as intended.

Several positive outcomes were nonetheless achieved as a result of the project, including improved partnerships, supporting provincial policy, and training and skills development. Having identified a local gap in the sustainable contractor sector, the City of Peterborough is utilizing its partnerships with Fleming College to hopefully implement LIC home audit training to sustainable construction graduates, and would be specific to the Peterborough LIC framework and is aimed at improving local capacity to implement the program.

Although this LIC program was not piloted due to the aforementioned funding and staffing restrictions, several monitoring objectives have been identified on how to measure the progress on the implementation of an LIC project, which might be helpful to other municipalities looking to implement a similar project. Surveys can be conducted with participants and other relevant stakeholders to evaluate the effectiveness, ease, and the value of the program and service. The survey ca also ask participants to provide suggestions or identify areas for improvement. Measuring progress can also be done through reporting to Council on the outcomes of the LIC project and its viability, including the number of participants, costs to the municipality, relative reduction in GHG emissions, etc. More detailed indicators will need to be developed once the LIC framework is finalized and ready to implement.

Next Steps

Currently, the City is exploring several different funding and implementation streams in order to implement the LIC. This includes working with Fleming College through their local trade school to submit an application for skill training and pilot to the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council. Moreover, the City is working with GreenUP to explore the possibility of piloting an LIC in the next two years through their Sustainable Urban Neighbourhood program.


Link to Full Case Study

Using climate change projections enables better adaptation decisions, as it allows you to better understand how the climate may change. To learn how to choose, access, and understand climate data, visit’s Learning Zone.

To further understand how climate information can be applied in property and home improvement related work explore the Buildings Module on