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.

….

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.

-30-

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.

 

New U of L study finds water issues a major concern of housing developers in the Calgary region

The final report of a study investigating challenges and solutions in acquiring water for housing development in the Calgary provides some insights into this critical issue.

Principal investigator, Dr. Lorraine Nicol of the University of Lethbridge issued the final report after analysing the findings from interviews with 15 major developers working in Rocky View County, M.D. Foothills and/or Okotoks. Challenges in acquiring water have housing developers in the Calgary region worried about the effects on their industry and real estate, on home buyers and the economy in general.

The study found:

  • 100% of developers interviewed believe there are challenges in acquiring licensed water allocations for housing development in the three municipalities under study;
  • 73% stated acquiring a licensed water allocation is the ‘primary issue’ for developers;
  • 60% of interviewees believe water management in the region is political, to the detriment of the housing industry;
  • another 53% believe the source of the problem also relates to government processes;
  • 87% of developers believe water challenges are having a negative effect on the industry, either now or in the future;
  • two-thirds of developers say the cost of acquiring water licenses increases the price of homes;
  • on average, approximately 200 homes sold yearly in the three municipalities under study comprised the resale of new homes. A 10% decline in houses constructed, by reducing the stock of homes, could translate in a decline of 20 houses hold; a 20% decline in new home construction could translate in a decline of 40 homes sold;

All developers believe a solution lies in working together as a region but there was no clear consensus on what type of regional model will work.

For more information about this study, visit the University of Lethbridge’s website here or Alberta WaterPortal’s Blog here.

New Tool Available to Assist with Community Energy Plan Implementation 

An open source guide, the Community Energy Implementation Framework, designed to help communities move Community Energy Plans from a vision to implementation, was released today in beta at QUEST2016 – Smart Energy Communities for Jobs, Infrastructure and Climate Action by the Community Energy Association, QUEST – Quality Urban Energy Systems of Tomorrow, and Sustainable Prosperity.

The Community Energy Implementation Framework contains 10 strategies that provide advice on political, staff and stakeholder engagement, staff and financial capacity and embedding energy into local government plans and processes.

“Across Canada, over 200 communities, representing more than 50 percent of the population, have a Community Energy Plan.” said Dale Littlejohn, Executive Director of the Community Energy Association, “Despite the acceleration of community energy planning across Canada, communities continue to face challenges when it comes to implementation, and this guide offers a tool to overcome many of those challenges.”

Laid out in an easy to use online format, the Framework also includes an Implementation Readiness Survey – a self-evaluation tool intended to help communities identify areas of strength and weakness for implementation.

“Canadian communities have an important role to play in energy. They influence nearly 60 percent of energy use and 50 percent of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions nationally,” explains Brent Gilmour, Executive Director of QUEST. “The Community Energy Implementation Framework offers a solution to help communities do their part in helping Canada meet its GHG emission reduction targets.”

The GTI team welcomes you to share comments and questions about the beta version of the Framework to smarchionda@questcanada.org.

For more information: Access the Framework: http://www.framework.gettingtoimplementation.ca

About Community Energy Association (CEA)

CEA supports local governments in developing and implementing community energy and emissions plans (also known as climate action plans, community energy plans, and local action plans). We also help local governments with carbon neutral action plans for their operations.

About QUEST

QUEST is the leader advancing Smart Energy Communities that reduce GHG emissions, lower energy use, drive the adoption of clean technologies, and foster local economic development in Canada. Established in 2007, QUEST has a national grassroots network including over 10,000 contacts in organizations across Canada from local, provincial and territorial governments, utilities, energy service providers, building and land owners and operators, and clean technology companies working at the community level to advance Smart Energy Communities. Follow us: @QUESTCanada

About Sustainable Prosperity (SP)

SP is a national research and policy network, based at the University of Ottawa. SP focuses on market-based approaches to build a greener, more competitive economy. It brings together business, policy and academic leaders to help innovative ideas inform policy development. Follow us: @sustpro

For additional information:

QUEST

Tonja Leach, Director, Communications & National Affairs

Tel.: 613-627-2938 x706

E: tleach@questcanada.org

 

Community Energy Association

Dale Littlejohn , Executive Director

Tel.: 604-628-7076

E: dlittlejohn@communityenergy.bc.ca