March 2017 Community Investment

The Board of Governors of the Alberta Real Estate Foundation approved $348,000 in community investment projects at their recent meeting.

The Alberta Real Estate Foundation (AREF) supports initiatives that enhance the real estate industry and benefit the communities of Alberta. AREF was established in 1991 under the Alberta Real Estate Act. Since then, it has awarded over 17.5 million dollars in community and industry grants to nearly 550 projects across Alberta.

Projects approved at the March meeting include:

Alberta Emerald FoundationEmerald Awards

The Emerald Awards are uniquely Canadian and allow Albertans to be recognized and celebrated for their outstanding environmental achievements in over 12 categories annually. Since 1992 the Emerald Awards have recognized nearly 300 recipients for their innovative and thoughtful projects, resulting in a healthier and cleaner environment for us all. The Shared Footprints Award is one of 12 categories that allow groups to showcase projects that create environmentally ethical plans aimed at managing the impact of human use of land and resources. It is a form of stewardship that changes the way we do business, ensuring that we share the land and work together to reduce the impact on that land.

Center for Public Legal Education Alberta (CPLEA)Residential Tenancies Legal Information Project

CPLEA’s highly regarded Residential Tenancies Legal Information Program is the best source of easy to understand, accessible and accurate legal information about landlord and tenant matters in Alberta. The program provides vital information to Albertans online, in print and in person.

Center for Public Legal Education Alberta (CPLEA) Condo Law for Albertans – Phase 3

In Phase 3 CPLEA will update the resources created in the first two phases, including the well-received Condo Law for Albertans website, to incorporate changes to the law as a results of the impending proclamation into force of the Condominium Property Amendment Act and it Regulations. Additionally, CPLEA will make further updates in consideration of suggestions made by various stakeholders.

Ducks Unlimited Canada“Decision-Making for Wetland Management” Real Estate Professional Workshop

Ducks Unlimited Canada will offer a workshop to real estate professionals which will inform them of the Alberta Wetland Policy and its implications to landowners and the industry, increase their understanding of the various natural benefits that wetlands provide to future and existing landowners, and help industry members market properties with new resources and information tools. Materials from this workshop will be available online.

Legacy Land Trust SocietyStewardship in the Red Deer River Watershed — Water Quality and You

“Water Quality and You” will engage people in voluntary conservation practices resulting in land that maintains/improves water quality along in the Red Deer River. Around 100 landowners along the river will be provided stewardship and conservation information through in-person meetings.

NGOs Supporting Uninsured And Underinsured Residents (NSUUR)NSUUR Volunteer Village’s Common’s Building

A significant number of volunteers are coming to Fort McMurray in the spring of 2017 to help with the rebuild after the wildfire. NSUUR has set up a “Volunteer Village” to accommodate these volunteers.

Pembina Institute for Appropriate Development (in partnership with the Alberta Real Estate Association)Enabling Alberta’s REALTORS® as clean energy leaders

This project will enable Alberta’s REALTORS® to play an important leadership role in leveraging the opportunities that present themselves to homeowners in the transition to a clean economy. This project will educate REALTORS® and provide them with tools customized to their needs that they can share directly with homeowners. As a collaboration, the project will leverage AREA’s expertise on the needs of REALTORS® and homeowners with the Pembina Institute’s expertise on clean energy, including energy efficiency and microgeneration, to transform how Alberta’s REALTORS® understand and serve homeowners on this topic of increasing importance.

Foundation introduces Governor Tash Taylor

The Alberta Real Estate Foundation (AREF) is pleased to formally announce Tash Taylor has joined our Board of Governors for a three-year term.

“AREF is a unique funder with a broad and important mandate to support many unique and innovative community initiatives,” she says. “The range of potential impact is great because AREF is open-minded in how it can be an enabler for community benefit.”

Tash is one of the three Public Appointments sitting on the Board of Governors and hopes to contribute her technical and governance skills along with her in-depth understanding of the non-profit sector and community systems. “My career path has allowed me to work in many sectors and gain a perspective about community issues and opportunities.” Tash says. She has a strong background in education, health, affordable housing and indigenous matters.

….

Tash is the Executive Director of the Alberta Network of Public Housing Agencies (ANPHA), the industry association for non-profit housing in Alberta. Her leadership experience spans multiple sectors including senior roles with the Edmonton Public School District, St. Albert Housing Society, Alzheimer’s Society of Alberta and NWT, Imperial Oil, and Alberta Women Entrepreneurs.

She was the founding Executive Director of Alberta’s Youth Volunteer Society, a charity dedicated to building youth volunteerism in Alberta in collaboration with the province. Early in her career, Tash led a social enterprise in rural Alberta to support the local women’s emergency shelter and won awards for her results.

Tash studied at the University of Ottawa and completed a Masters of Business Administration specializing in Executive Management at Royal Roads University. She holds Certified Executive Coach and Certified Risk Manager designations and has completed the Queen’s Strategy and Strategic Analytics programs. Tash is also trained in evaluating Social Return on Investment (SROI) using international methodologies. She serves on the Board of Directors with the Canadian Housing and Renewal Association, several community boards and civic agencies.

Tash is passionate about advancing social and economic capacity. “If we all do a small part in advancing the way we live today, we can enable the attainment of individual and collective potential, which ultimately leads to stronger communities, and a more resilient nation overall.”

Foundation introduces Governor Scott Bollinger

The Alberta Real Estate Foundation (AREF) is pleased to formally announce Scott Bollinger has joined our Board of Governors for a three-year term.

A life-long Albertan, Scott has a strong desire to help make this province even better and was pleased to be appointed to AREF’s Board of Governors. “I appreciate AREF’s mandate is not to promote the real estate industry but to serve the community,” he says. “I’m looking forward to being a part of the many good things AREF stands for and will accomplish in the years ahead.”

Scott is one of the two appointments to the Board of Governors from the Real Estate Council of Alberta. He’s a strong advocate of industry education and interested in the application of legislative and administrative law to the industry. As a leader of innovation and change in residential real estate, along with his ongoing legal training, Scott will bring a unique and valuable perspective to how AREF approaches and executes its mandate.

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Scott is Broker for ComFree Commonsense Network in Alberta, a non-traditional residential real estate brokerage and leader of innovation and change within the residential real estate industry.

Scott earned a BA in history from the University of Calgary in 2003 and is a candidate for Juris Doctor (JD) degree from the Faculty of Law in 2017. He began his real estate career in commercial real estate, working with CB Richard Ellis and Westcorp Properties before moving to residential real estate.

He opened his own residential real estate brokerage in 2010 which encouraged enhanced seller participation through its website, consumer education and service options. It was acquired by ComFree in 2012. Since that time, Scott has worked as the managing broker for ComFree Commonsense Network with key responsibilities in regulatory compliance and corporate and business development.

AREF Helps Alberta NGO Spread a Vital Message: Safe Water Shouldn’t Be Taken For Granted

By the Centre for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology (CAWST)

Water is something few of us give much thought to in Alberta, unless of course it involves flooding. But how often do any of us think about where our next glass of clean, safe water will come from? The truth is, likely never. That’s because water is readily available with the twist of a tap, the flush of a toilet, or the push of a button from our fridge dispenser.

The truth is water is something none of us can afford to take for granted because it is a necessity of life, a human right, and it can be here today and gone tomorrow. All it would take is an issue with water safety or the effects of climate change and H2O would be at the forefront of our thinking. While that may be less likely in Canada, it’s a reality for millions around the world: lack of safe water and sanitation.

CAWST is a Calgary-based NGO which helps people in developing countries to access safe water. So far, it’s helped 13.1 million people in 82 countries. But raising awareness about conserving and protecting this important resource is also something it champions here in Alberta.

Last June, the Alberta Real Estate Foundation (AREF) helped CAWST to educate Albertans through a grant that supported several workshops at CAWST’s Beyond the Tap: Water Workshops and Networking event. People learned how to spot water waste in their own homes and how to correct the issue. They also learned about water contamination, rainwater harvesting and global water issues.

Four workshops were offered which drew dozens of people. The Handy Home Water Solutions workshop, hosted by the City of Calgary, taught Calgarians how to identify and repair leaks in their homes and to reduce household water consumption with simple solutions.

The Protecting the Source workshop, offered information about what can be done at the grassroots level to combat water contamination.

Rainwater Harvesting touched on harvesting what falls naturally from the sky, both locally and globally, and the different ways precipitation can be used around the world.

Finally, the Approaches to Development workshop enlightened people on how best to help communities in developing countries with issues such as access to water.

The grant by AREF to CAWST made the workshops possible, ensuring more thought is put into our most important resource, and into ensuring it’s there for years to come and accessible to humans everywhere.

CAWST is a huge Alberta success story. It was founded after a U. of C. engineer, Dr. David Manz, invented the household biosand filter, which revolutionized the ability of families to access their own safe water. A woman named Camille Dow Baker saw this invention and, knowing it could change the world, she started CAWST. CAWST doesn’t build solutions for people, it teaches people how to build solutions themselves using local materials. The household biosand filter was just the beginning of empowering people through knowledge.

Now, 15 years since it began, CAWST is a leader in solving world water issues. March 22nd is World Water Day, a day designated by the United Nations to draw attention to water issues. And this year, it’s being marked by CAWST’s “Paint the Town Blue for World Water Day”. Landmarks across the country will light up in blue, including Niagara Falls, BC Place, Edmonton’s High Level Bridge, the Calgary Tower, and Calgary’s Reconciliation Bridge, Telus Spark and Galleria of Trees.

In addition to the illumination of landmarks, Albertans are urged to:

  1. Snap a photo of a landmark lit in blue on March 22nd, and to share it on Twitter @cawst #paintitblue.
  2. Pick up a special “CAWST Paints the Town Blue for World Water Day” button, outside of Blink restaurant in Calgary on March 21st.
  3. Attend the World Water Day celebration at the Telus Spark in Calgary on March 22nd, 4:30 to 7pm. To register, check out: http://www.cawst.org/worldwaterday

AREF helped CAWST get the message out about why we should all think twice about water. Now, we can all help CAWST spread the word so that every human being has access to safe water.

New Energy Efficiency Programs Coming to Alberta

By Jesse Row

Back in 2014, Alberta was the only jurisdiction in Canada or the U.S. without energy efficiency programs for the public. This is changing now that the Provincial Government has announced three new programs coming to Alberta this year.

The first program is open to single family and multi-family homes, both owners and renters. It’s called the Residential No-Cost Energy Savings Program and will bring high efficiency lightbulbs and other basic energy saving products to homes across the province at no-cost. The program will also give energy saving tips and let consumers know about other programs they can participate in.

The second program for homes is a Residential Retail Products Program that will offer rebates on high efficiency appliances, insulation and lighting. Other products like consumer electronics and water heaters are expected to be added over time.

The third program is a Business, Non-Profit and Institutional Energy Savings Program that will offer incentives for high efficiency lighting, heating and cooling systems, and hot water heating.

The exact launch dates of these programs have not been set, but many are expecting them in the April-May timeframe. You can receive updates on these programs, and other energy efficiency initiatives in the province, by signing up to the Alberta Energy Efficiency Alliance LinkedIn Group at https://www.linkedin.com/groups/4836089.

These programs are just the start for Energy Efficiency Alberta – a new agency tasked with increasing the uptake of energy efficiency and community energy systems in the province.

Last year, an Energy Efficiency Advisory Panel was established to provide advice to this new agency while it was being created. The results of that advice can be found in the panel’s final report at https://www.alberta.ca/documents/climate/EEAP-Report-Getting-It-Right-Complete.pdf. The Panel’s report contains 39 recommendations for Energy Efficiency Alberta that includes a long-term vision, suggestions for initial programming and opportunities for engaging Albertans.

The overall message from the Panel focuses on the opportunities that exist to help save money, create jobs and reduce emissions all at the same time through energy efficiency and community energy systems. Considerable pent-up demand and interest was also identified throughout the province as a key opportunity for the new agency.

The opportunity for energy efficiency in Alberta is significant and will lead to many different benefits. Energy efficiency upgrades improve the quality of buildings and enhance property values; households and businesses save money; jobs are created; emissions are reduced; and real estate professionals and other service providers are able to provide value-added services to their clients. Energy efficiency programs are a win-win opportunity for many different sectors and that’s why they are so widely used around the world.

It’s good to see Alberta re-entering the energy efficiency space with this initial offering of programs. We certainly want to see this continue so Albertans can take advantage of all the benefits energy efficiency has to offer.

 

Jesse Row is the Executive Director of the Alberta Energy Efficiency Alliance and was a member of the Provincial Government’s Energy Efficiency Advisory Panel.

The Newtonian Shift: playing an energy transition game

By Jennifer Allford

“Endure the chaos,” the facilitator says. “It’s part of the game.” And with that, a few dozen of us start playing the Newtonian Shift, a half-day “role-playing simulation” in a boardroom in downtown Calgary.

Think Monopoly on steroids. But instead of buying and selling property, we’re buying and selling infrastructure and different sources of energy. And we don’t sit around the table rolling the dice and moving a top hat or fancy boot along the board.  Everyone is up moving around the room, cutting deals with other players, going to the table that acts as the energy marketplace and watching as the grid grows and changes on the map of Newtonia in the middle of the room.

Newtonia is a fictitious land with an old electricity grid. Its leaders want to build a more sustainable system that uses fewer fossil fuels and has a new grid that can accommodate using more renewables. Each of us in the room is a player in that very complex system. We take on a title that’s foreign to us. Business people represent NGOs. Environmentalists run energy companies. Oil and gas engineers represent municipalities. We play roles in First Nations communities, the agriculture industry, a giant tech company or a steel supplier.

Years of change is compressed into a few hours. Every few minutes, the facilitator announces the passing of another month and we give each other panicked looks. It’s moving so fast. We haven’t replaced coal with enough solar. The municipality has no power. The strips of plastic that represent the grid don’t yet reach the First Nations community.

Every now and then there is a policy announcement from the government—subsidies for solar, a new tax on fossil fuels. Regular news flashes throw a wrench in the works—an especially cold winter sees energy prices skyrocket, a malfunction in the system is causing outages in the industrial district.

It is indeed chaos. And instructive. And fun.

At the end of the game we are all exhausted from running around the room frantically trying to change the energy system of Newtonia. We happily sit down at our tables and go around the room recounting what we were able to accomplish and where we failed. We analyze deals that were made and others that fell apart. We hear from each other and each and every sector.

As we pack up the map of Newtonia, picking up the gold strips of the new grid and the black strips for the old one, we have all seen firsthand the incredible complexity of transitioning from fossil fuels to a cleaner energy system.

After being immersed in unfamiliar roles and representing other sectors, we leave for the day knowing that as well a new grid, Alberta’s energy transition is going to require a lot of understanding across the board and plenty of dialogue among the many players.

The Newtonian Shift was developed in the Netherlands and adapted for use in Alberta with a grant from the Alberta Real Estate Foundation.

See the game in action here.

 

Alberta’s water news gathered for you

When it comes to water, everything is connected – it is completely unique in this respect. In addition to being a critical resource for life, it supports the environment, economies, and social well-being. The average Canadian uses 329 liters of water daily but how many of us think about where it comes from, or the issues and challenges we face to manage and protect this precious resource across Alberta?

One way to be informed about water in Alberta is the Alberta WaterPortal Society News Digest. This twice-weekly service is your informant for water news, events and issues provincially, along with comparisons and insights nationally and internationally. With the huge influx of news and media in our world, it can be time consuming to sift through the most relevant and accurate information and that’s where the News Digest can help. If you’re interested in water, all the sorting is done for you – saving you time and energy while leaving you informed.

Many subscribers enjoy reading news from all across Alberta:

“The WaterPortal provides excellent information on all relevant topics – it’s the birds-eye-view for what I like to consume on water-related topics and discussions.”

“The Alberta WaterPortal does an amazing job of aggregating all things related to water in Alberta (and beyond sometimes). This is an incredibly important function. Also love the original content too!”

In line with the Alberta WaterPortal Society’s values to operate transparently, without bias and with inclusivity, the News Digest provides a well-rounded service to encourage discussion and inform decisions for a better water future.

We encourage you to join our loyal subscribers via www.albertawater.com/sign-up-for-our-newsletter. You can also check out our work, including the innovative Alberta Water Nexus Project kindly supported by the Alberta Real Estate Foundation, via www.albertawater.com

Protecting the Bighorn as a Wildland Park

By Hilary Young, Y2Y

Long before I started working with Y2Y, I’d heard about the allure of the Bighorn Wildland – especially the cold, clear tributaries and waterfalls that form the headwaters of the North Saskatchewan River. I was excited to experience this landscape firsthand with my colleagues over the summer, as one of Y2Y’s major goals is to protect the Bighorn as a Wildland Park.

We started out on the trail to the Siffleur Falls, crossing a long suspension bridge and a wooden boardwalk before gaining elevation on the limestone hills. Four kilometers passed quickly, and we were caught by surprise when the trail narrowed and the limestone suddenly cut away into the sloping Siffleur Canyon.

When we came upon the cascading falls a few hundred meters further, we sat for a while in awe, gaining perspective on the steady natural forces that pre-date humans by just staring thoughtfully into the river canyon. For how many hundreds of thousands of years has clean, quick-flowing water been wearing away rock? And for what tiny fraction of this have we been meddling with natural processes and having a disproportionate impact?

After taking photos (which of course failed to capture the emotional experience the canyon evoked in person), we started our hike back out. I knew that the Siffleur River flowed into the North Saskatchewan and then into the Edmonton Capital Region’s water supply. I knew that these tributaries lay within an intact landscape that provided quality habitat for threatened species like grizzlies. But getting out into the Bighorn gave me an emotional connection to a place I could recite facts about — I now understood on a more visceral level that industrial resource extraction and motorized recreational vehicles had no place here. The ancient canyon was the perfect symbol for wild lands that have a timeline, purpose and rhythm well beyond our own.

The Bighorn Wildland that lies between Jasper and Banff National Parks needs to be protected as a Wildland Park. This vast landscape of low elevation foothills, broad valley bottoms, ridgelines and mountains is part of the interconnected Yellowstone to Yukon region, one of the last intact mountain ecosystems left on Earth. Over a million Albertans downstream of the Bighorn, in places like Edmonton and Clearwater County, rely on the water that its tributaries and rivers provide.

Please help protect these lands by calling or writing your local MLA to let them know you want the Bighorn to be designated a Wildand Park! Visit us at loveyourheadwaters.ca for more information.

 

New Information Hub On Accessibility Launched

Accessible U is a newly launched website that provides practical resources about residential accessibility in a friendly format. As a centralized location for data, research, toolkits and practical information, Accessible U makes relevant and understandable information readily available to anyone, anytime.

Accessible U is a resource for people living with a physical disability, for caregivers, advocates and health care providers. It is also useful for realtors, seniors-serving groups, community members, home builders and developers, informing and empowering them with knowledge they need, when they need it. It has been designed with rich, clear information on the basics of accessibility, how to modify or locate a home, community services and advocacy.

Accessible U is led by Accessible Housing, a Calgary not-for-profit, and was developed with the help of dozens of community members. These include persons with disabilities, experts from the health-care sector, construction companies and developers, public service staff, non-profit organizations, and college and university staff. Accessible U is Accessible Housing’s response to an information gap – – a tool aimed at placing helpful information in the hands of those who need it.

Find Accessible U online at www.accessibleuniversity.com.

About Accessible Housing

Accessible Housing is a Calgary not-for-profit organization that opens doors to homes that are accessible and affordable for people with limited mobility. Accessible Housing’s vision is that everyone has a home and belongs in community. For more information about Accessible Housing’s programs, services and clients, visit www.accessiblehousing.ca.

Edmonton & Clearwater County Residents Love their Headwaters

New poll highlights connection Edmonton has with Bighorn Wildland

Canmore, AB – A new poll being released today by the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative (Y2Y) highlights the strong relationship Metro Edmonton residents, and those living in Clearwater County, have with their headwaters.

The Bighorn is a region of mountains, foothills and boreal woodlands found on the eastern border of Banff and Jasper National Parks, west of Rocky Mountain House. “The North Saskatchewan River starts in Banff National Park,” says Stephen Legault, Y2Y Program Director for the Crown, Alberta and NWT, “but the Bighorn is where it gets almost all its water from. Bighorn water finds its way into every tap in the Capital Region. Taking care of those headwaters means clean water for all Edmonton and area residents.”

In a poll conducted in late September and early October for the conservation group, researcher eNRG found that 83% of Edmonton residents are in favour of protecting the Bighorn region. 77% said that where commercial use of public land like the Bighorn could have a negative impact on wildlife habitat or water that it should not be allowed. Furthermore, when asked how they would like to see the Bighorn area managed, 79% said that they would like to see sensitive wildlife habitat protected and for other areas to allow non-motorized recreation. Nearly 7 in 10 Metro Edmonton residents knew that their water came from the North Saskatchewan River.

“There is strong support for the protection of Edmonton’s water source,” says Legault. “People in the region feel very strongly that ensuring they have a clean, clear water is important, and favour protecting that water source for future generations.”

In the same poll, 88% of residents in Drayton Valley, Rocky Mountain House, Nordegg and rural Clearwater County favour protecting the environment of the region. 79% said that where commercial use of public land like the Bighorn could have a negative impact on wildlife habitat or water that it should not be allowed. 68% of residents of the region favour protecting the Bighorn as a wildland park.

“The Bighorn is the closest mountain region to Edmonton,” says Dr. Hilary Young, Y2Y Program Coordinator for Alberta. “Calgarians have Kananaskis Country, and a lot of that is protected for headwater conservation and recreation. Edmonton deserves the same opportunity. We believe that for Edmonton to be able to count on the Bighorn as a source for clean, clear water in the future, the region should be protected with a core wildland park and a series of provincial parks and public land use zones.”

“Most local residents and property owners strongly favour protection of the Bighorn” says Nordegg business owner and resident Marla Zapach. “Protecting the Bighorn will bring new economic opportunities. Creating parks is a form of economic stimulus and would encourage the development of more businesses in and for the community. This is something local residents support.”

The poll was conducted by Edmonton-based eNRG for the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative. 400 residents of metro-Edmonton and 200 residents of rural areas east of Edmonton (in the North Saskatchewan watershed) were polled. The results are valid +/- 4.8%, 19 times of out 20 for the Edmonton sample and +/- 8% for the Clearwater County sample.

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For further comment, contact:

Stephen Legault, Y2Y Program Director – Crown, Alberta and NWT 403-688-2964 | stephen@y2y.net

Hilary Young, PhD., Y2Y Program Coordinator – Alberta 403-609-2666 ext 104 | hilary@y2y.net

Marla Zapach, Nordegg Resident 403-846-6627 | marla@skadiwilderness.ca

 

To learn more about how Y2Y is protecting Alberta Headwaters visit their website here.