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

Foundation seeks new Public Board Member

The Foundation is seeking a candidate to fill the position of Public Appointment on the Board of Governors.

As a Governor you will:

  • Participate in three meetings a year;
  • Contribute to the strategic direction of the Foundation;
  • Decide upon community investment grant funding;
  • Contribute to a dynamic learning board and organization;
  • Develop and grow your skills and provide leadership to projects in Alberta.

According to the Ministerial Regulations, the Foundation is seeking one person, who is not in the industry, who is appointed by the current members of the board then in office and who, in the opinion of those members, possesses special skills or experience to assist the board in carrying out the Foundation’s purposes.

Preference will be given to a candidate who brings the following:

  • Is energetic and willing to be an ambassador for the Foundation to network and create awareness among community and industry stakeholders.
  • Knowledge of Alberta, current issues and the ability to identify grant making and community investment opportunities.
  • Holds respect for diverging viewpoints and is willing to contribute their personal leadership skills towards creating efficient and effective governance.
  • An appetite for learning and able to set appropriate ends and monitor the achievement of those ends.
  • An independent thinker who bases their decision making on analysis of available information and their own experiences.
  • Experience with financial management and investment responsibilities – current assets of the Foundation are around $15 million.

For more information, please view the complete description here or contact the Executive Director, Cheryl De Paoli, at 403.228.4786 or cdepaoli@aref.ab.ca (Indicate in the subject line: Board Public Appointment).

All applications are due by October 31st, 2016.

September 2016 Community Investment

The Board of Governors of the Alberta Real Estate Foundation approved $239,500 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 set up in 1991 under the Alberta Real Estate Act. Since then, it has awarded approximately 17 million dollars in community and industry grants to over 550 projects across Alberta. AREF is currently celebrating its 25th Anniversary of making a difference in Alberta.

Projects approved at the September meeting include:

Alberta Real Estate AssociationDefining Professional Excellence through Research and Engagement

AREA would like to improve the Alberta real estate industry’s understanding of true professional excellence, defining it with statistically relevant, benchmark Alberta consumer research, as well as member and key stakeholder input. Using these publicly released research results, AREA will develop applicable and measurable Standards of Professional Excellence for the Industry.

Alberta Real Estate Foundation Community and Real Estate Industry Sponsorship 2016-2017

The Foundation utilises the Community and Real Estate Industry Sponsorship program to provide sponsorships and small community grants to those events and projects that require a timely decision. The purpose of providing sponsorships is to offer limited support to organizations and their events that meet the funding criteria of the Foundation. The fund reduces administrative demands by allowing staff to award small grants without seeking Board approval.

 Alberta WaterPortal Society The Future of Water: Engaging Albertans in the Water-Food-Energy Nexus

Alberta is projected to add 1.8 million residents by 2040. Over the same time period, climate change may lead to a reduction in available water resources. In this context, an understanding of the converging demands for water from communities, as well as the energy and food production sectors is critical. Ultimately, this project will engage stakeholders to encourage consideration of the water-food-energy nexus and support more holistic water management decision making.

Camrose Open Door Association Tenant Education and Certification Pilot Project

This pilot project will provide hard to house tenants with the knowledge, tools and support that they need in order to be successful renters. The project will incorporate development of workshop curriculum, education sessions, appropriate community referrals, security deposit assistance and ongoing support to assist the tenant in stabilizing their housing situation.

Friends of Fish Creek Provincial Park Society Community Engagement 25

2017 is the Friends of Fish Creek Provincial Park Society’s 25th anniversary year. As such, the Society will be highlighting their achievements over the past 25 years and providing new and exciting ways to get involved in the Fish Creek Park community. By leveraging skilled staff and volunteers to provide outreach activities, hands on stewardship, engagement activities and social enterprise, a core of informed park users will be supported by a stable non-profit society. This project will enable the Society to continue to improve the quality of life for Calgary families and support local real estate values far into the future.

FuseSocial – Building Community Resilience Together

After the devastating wildfires, Wood Buffalo (WB) has the opportunity to implement a process to build a more resilient community. This requires a community engagement process, to ensure ownership by the community. This project aims to utilizing a strategic, comprehensive and innovative approach/tool – The WB Strategy Roadmap – to better understand the challenges facing the community and identify priority areas for the community’s recovery effort.

Hearts & Hammers SocietyHearts and Hammers, Affordable and Accessible Home Renovations

Hearts and Hammers offers free home renovations to Calgarians with mobility challenges. For the past 4 years, the organization has been run by volunteers, and has been able to complete up to 5 renovations a year.  As the organization experiences more demand, full-time staff are needed to ensure sustainability and strategic growth.  Bringing on more staff capacity would allow H&H to continue providing home renovations for Calgarians with reduced mobility, while also enhancing their social support.

LifehouseAlive Inside: A Full Body Experience

Alive Inside, is a full body experience that allows participants the opportunity to explore the limitations of aging. This educational workshop will expose Realtors and other influential community members to a reality which will help them deeply understand how environment impacts mobility, behaviour, health and healing. Awareness will encourage the development of environments that are accessible to everyone, including aging populations and those with disabilities. This immersive experience will inform and empower REALTORS® and other influential community members so they can help to further educate and support aging in place.

Stewards of the Lac la Biche WatershedLac la Biche Sensitive Habitat Inventory Mapping

Living Lakes Canada and the Stewards of the Lac la Biche Watershed, and with support from Lac La Biche County, are conducting a Sensitive Habitat Inventory Mapping Project for Lac la Biche. Sensitive Habitat Inventory Mapping was developed by Fisheries and Oceans Canada, as a method to conduct fish and wildlife habitat assessments of freshwater lakes. The information collected includes land use, riparian habitat alterations and existing sensitive fish and wildlife habitats on both public and private land. The resulting Shoreline Management Guidelines direct shoreline activities in a manner that will protect, conserve and restore important fish and wildlife habitats and the water they depend on. The Guidelines have proven invaluable for local and provincial government to make sustainable land use decisions along our lake shorelines.

Sustainability Resources Ltd.Rural Prosperity Initiative

The Rural Prosperity Initiative is a collaborative programmatic approach to showcasing and implementing sustainability solutions in Alberta’s communities. The Rural Prosperity Initiative is a collaboration between industry, local and provincial governments, non-government organizations and institutions to help communities identify opportunities for waste reduction and repurposing, water reuse, and clean and renewable energy infrastructure upgrades that can save money, attract industry and reduce carbon and GHG.

Accessible U is coming your way

Wanda’s father lives in an inner-city bungalow and he wants to stay in his home for as long as possible but he has been struggling to get around with his new walker. Wanda has been struggling to find practical ways to help him make modifications to his home so that he stays safe and healthy.

Ajay is looking for a new place to live after his son was in an accident that left him a paraplegic. Ajay isn’t sure what to look for, where to start, or what sort of housing his son will need in the next few years as he adjusts to his new life. He’s even reached out to home builders about building something brand new and to a realtor to help him find something appropriate.

Amal and Peter brought their newborn daughter home from the hospital and suddenly realized that with her significant physical disability, their home will need major renovations as she grows.

Carole has been using her wheelchair more frequently because her MS is becoming increasingly debilitating. Amongst many challenges in her home, navigating the multiple sets of stairs are a constant worry. She’s wondering what she could do to her home to maintain her independence for as long as possible.

Later this year, people like these will be able to find valuable resources on Accessible U, a new online knowledge hub which will offer help navigating the world of accessibility, barrier-free design and home modifications. Accessible U is an initiative launched by Accessible Housing, a Calgary not-for-profit organization operating since 1974 with a vision that everyone has a home and belongs in community. Created in response to weekly queries from individuals like these, and with the generous support of AREF, Accessible U will put the power of information back into the hands of the community and will be relevant and relatable to families, realtors, home builders, health care professionals and more. Along with the site launch, workshops and learning opportunities will be held to specific audience groups to help share the valuable knowledge long held in the minds of industry professionals, health care workers and people with the lived experience of disability.

Watch for the launch and learning opportunities later this month!

 

RECA Seeking Real Estate Industry Member for Alberta Real Estate Foundation

The Real Estate Council of Alberta (RECA) is seeking a real estate industry member to sit as Governor on the Alberta Real Estate Foundation (AREF). The term of the appointment is 3 years commencing November 1, 2016 ending October 31, 2019.

AREF supports and originates initiatives that enhance the real estate industry and benefit the people of Alberta. The Real Estate Act states AREF’s purpose is to promote and undertake:

  • the education of related professionals and the public in respect of the real estate industry
  • law reform and research in respect of the real estate industry
  • other projects and activities to advance and improve the real estate industry.

AREF’s Board of Governors is comprised of industry and public volunteers. The AREF’s Governors are responsible for fiduciary matters, investing in community initiatives, attending board meetings, and representing the Foundation at related events.

The Foundation is seeking a candidate who supports the mission, vision, and values of the organisation and embodies the following characteristics:

  • is energetic and willing to be an ambassador for the Foundation to network and create awareness among community and industry stakeholders
  • knowledge of Alberta, current issues and the ability to identify grant making and community investment opportunities
  • solid analytical skills and an appetite for learning
  • holds respect for diverging viewpoints and is willing to contribute their personal leadership skills towards creating efficient and effective governance
  • set appropriate ends and monitor the achievement of those ends
  • independent thinker who base their decision making on analysis of available information and their own experiences
  • experience with financial management and investment responsibilities – current assets of the Foundation are around $14 million
  • The Governors collectively make decisions about each project to create successful and meaningful results that benefit the people of Alberta.

If you are interested in applying to serve as an AREF Governor, please forward a letter of introduction and resume no later than September 19, 2016 to: Rina Hawkins, Executive Assistant  Real Estate Council of Alberta  Suite 350, Richard Road SW  Calgary, Alberta T3E 6L1  E-mail: rhawkins@reca.ca or Fax: 403.228.3065

Note: RECA would like to thank all individuals who apply for this position. Please note an expression of interest does not guarantee an interview or committee position.

It’s about time! A quick and easy way to list and find space to rent

By: Joni Carroll, Arts Spaces Consultant, Calgary Arts Development

Just over five years ago I was asked to help find spaces for three functions: an auditorium for my kids’ school’s spring concert, a boardroom for my favourite non-profit’s AGM, and an office space for an arts organization. After hours of phone calls and web searches I thought that there must be a one-stop online listing of all the bookable space.

And there was—in New York City. It was called Spacefinder and it was developed by NYC’s Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization.

SpaceFinder is now in Alberta. With the support of the Alberta Real Estate Foundation, Calgary Arts Development has partnered with ArtsBuild Ontario, Arts Habitat Edmonton with the Edmonton Chamber of Voluntary Organizations, and Fractured Atlas to bring SpaceFinder to Albertans. SpaceFinder is an free marketplace for hourly, daily, weekly and long-term rentals. This online tool to help Albertans get more use out of existing space. Less existing space will go under-used less often.

SpaceFinder Alberta is live online and looking for people who need space. This free online marketplace links organizations with space to rent with those who need space. It is free to list. It is free to search. Did I mention it was free?

SpaceFinder helps venues efficiently find suitable users for their under-used space through this online tool. And it helps users find suitable space by streamlining the search for appropriate and affordable space.

The momentum is growing. In addition to Alberta, SpaceFinder has launched in Toronto and is underway in other regions of Ontario as well as BC and Manitoba.

SpaceFinder Alberta meets a dire need in our communities. Many groups in the creative, non-profit and small business communities need space for meeting, creating, rehearsing, presenting, collaborating, gathering or celebrating. They spend a lot of time trying to find suitable and affordable spaces—and SpaceFinder Alberta provides that information on a one-stop-shopping site, free of charge.

SpaceFinder Alberta can help venues reach new prospects, respond to inquiries and confirm appropriate renters very efficiently. Organizations spend significant resources trying to find the right renters for their spaces. Organizations can list their spaces free of charge on SpaceFinder Alberta. Help is available at calgaryartsdevelopment.com. Or in the Edmonton area, contact Arts Habitat Edmonton at artshab.com.

What kinds of spaces can be listed on SpaceFinder Alberta? Any space that supports creative uses in our communities. For many Albertans, arts spaces are where the arts are presented to audiences. But spaces are needed for every link in the value chain including creation space, rehearsal space, production space, warehouse and storage space and office space through to presentation and performance space. SpaceFinder Alberta lists spaces to support all disciplines. It supports community arts, professional arts and education in the arts.

Realtors know their community and its facilities. Venues listed on SpaceFinder Alberta include educational, commercial, faith-based, industrial, and institutional spaces. They can be for-profit and not-for-profit. They can be downtown or in suburbs.

If you know of a venue that makes space available, ask them to list their space on SpaceFinder Alberta. If you know of a group that is searching for space, please tell them about SpaceFinder Alberta. SpaceFinder Alberta: List a space. Find a space. For free.

In Conversation: Neighbourhoods and the Future of the Suburb

By: Design Talks (d.talks)

In May d.talks hosted “Let’s talk about…neighbourhoods,” a conversation exploring the relationship of built form with the potential for growth. Supported in part by the Alberta Real Estate Foundation and open to the public, the discussion fused perspectives on housing, urban design, planning, development and the social fabric of our neighbourhoods.

We wondered what role design might play in creating adaptability. What might the suburb 2.0 look like?

Calgary is a collection of neighbourhoods. What Calgary’s streetcar in the early 1900s and today’s LRT system allow is the opportunity to define neighbourhoods with multiple kinds of mobility in mind. We wondered how urban habitat might evolve and how everyday errands might be done differently in a future suburb.

June Williamson—author of Designing Suburban Futures as well as co-author of Retrofitting Suburbia: Urban Design Solutions for Redesigning Suburbs—showed the significant role design plays in “bettering” existing built form. Jamal Ramjohn, the Manager of Community Planning at The City of Calgary, surveyed the evolution of community form. Over six decades there is a return to rethinking the grid.

The relationship of policy and design was explored. Susanne Schindler, in sharing a multi-year research project called House Housing: An Untimely History of Real Estate, identified how housing alternatives are shaped. And sharing a Zurich cooperative housing example that blends micro-units, cluster-living, mixed income and seniors…what opportunities might allow housing to align with lifestyle changes over time?

Grace Lui, Senior Manager of Strategic Initiatives at Brookfield Residential, brought observations on livability indexing and the opportunity to transform single-use institutions like schools or libraries with shared-use alternatives. Urban Sociologist Jyoti Gondek, the Director of the Westman Centre for Real Estate Studies at the University of Calgary’s Haskayne School of Business, deepened the definition of a suburb. Communities in Calgary’s Northeast are flush with multi-generational families, forcing a re-think on the scale of some single family homes. What if density were defined as persons per unit instead of households per acre?

We heard: design nimbly and revitalize vacancy with alternative uses. Reconnect individuals with community and consider sharing. Today we lease phones and share cars, what will tomorrow’s generation of residents be sharing? A question from the audience asked how backyards might become shared laneway between homes. For now, the future is open with room for alternatives to emerge over time.

For more information on other d.talks events please visit: dtalks.org.

How much do Albertans love the wilderness?

By: CPAWS Southern Alberta Chapter

Alberta is home to an amazing landscape and Albertans know it. You can hop in your car and be in the middle of wilderness in little more than an hour.  The accessibility to nature and getting outside is an incredible draw and asset to this province.  Although we know Albertans are drawn to the outdoors, CPAWS wanted to dig deeper and ask Albertans about our parks and wilderness, specifically are they spending time outdoors, what activities are they doing and what are their values and attitudes towards nature?

To do this, CPAWS commissioned a province wide poll, funded in part by the Alberta Real Estate Foundation, on Albertans’ recreation and wilderness values. The survey, created with input from academics, partners, stakeholders and most importantly an outside consultant (the Praxis Group), was designed to be credible and statistically representative of all Albertans.   Although recreation surveys have been done in the past, none of them have encompassed both outdoor activities and wilderness values on a province-wide scale.

Then Need

At CPAWS we felt we needed to get a better and more comprehensive understanding of how Albertans are using the land to help inform better planning decisions for the future of Alberta. As Alberta’s population grows, more people are getting outside and into our parks and wilderness areas. We wanted to learn about what is actually happening on the landscape.  With more demand, low impact sustainable recreation is going to play a bigger role and we will need to properly plan in order to safeguard environmentally sensitive areas.

Recent concerns about infrastructure-based commercial development in places like Banff National Park despite huge public opposition and lack of demand, and high impact activities, like motorized recreation, that have a significant impact in places like the Castle and Ghost, indicate a need to look at what people want from their outdoor experience and how they value our wilderness areas. We need to make sure that land-use decisions are in the interests of the majority of Albertans and that we protect and grow our amazing parks and wilderness areas in the province, reflecting Albertans’ values.

Results

The results of the survey showed that 76% or three quarters of all Albertans get outside and enjoy the wilderness of Alberta on a regular basis! The majority value quiet recreation and 88% want more wilderness protection.  It is important to note that most Albertans are engaging in low impact recreation like hiking and camping and that that 86% prefer non-motorized recreation.

Some other key stats from the survey are:

  • 76% participate in some form of outdoor recreation
  • 98% want protection of water to take precedence over industrial development
  • 88% want governments to preserve more wilderness
  • 94% of Albertans believe that wilderness areas are important because they preserve plant and animal species
  • 86% prefer non-motorized recreation in wilderness areas over motorized recreation
  • 83% want wilderness protected and left in its natural condition even if these areas are never visited by, or benefit, humans.

So clearly, Albertans love and strongly value their wilderness areas. The most surprising result for CPAWS was that 83% of Albertans indicated that they wanted wilderness protected even if they never visit those areas. This tells us that people recognize the value of nature and they are willing to make tradeoffs to protect it for future generations.

The survey results have been shared widely with municipalities, recreation groups, the real estate industry, government officials and land managers so that this information representing Albertans can be used in formal land use decisions and recreation planning.  CPAWS feels the project has been rewarding is making an impact.  We have had people and groups quoting the survey results in meetings, pushing for land use practices that are representative of the majority Albertans.

What is next? CPAWS will make sure the results are widely available and continue to make efforts to present, share and promote this important work. CPAWS wants to see decision-makers have the information they need to plan for the protection of the environment such as headwaters, forests and wildlife corridors while considering the needs of the multiple recreation users in Alberta.

We are also working on encouraging people to get outside and sustainably connect with nature through outreach and creation of a series of videos highlighting sustainable recreation opportunities in Alberta. The first video highlights snowshoeing in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park.

Now that we know how much people appreciate these areas, we hope they will be empowered to be stewards of our parks and wilderness areas and use their voices to advocate for better land management and more protected areas in our province. We can enjoy economic benefits, great recreational places and prioritize ecologically sensitive areas. We can have an even better Alberta, we just need to plan for it.

To read the full report on Albertans’ Values and Attitudes Towards Recreation and Wilderness visit http://cpaws-southernalberta.org/campaigns/survey-albertans-want-more-wilderness-protected

Utilities Consumer Advocate (UCA) has launched its redesigned website

Service Alberta through the Utilities Consumer Advocate (UCA) has launched its redesigned website.

This new, interactive resource will help consumers, especially vulnerable Albertans; make informed choices about their electricity and natural gas services.

The website is mobile and tablet responsive and has several innovative new features, all of which are intended to provide a high quality user/consumer experience:

• An interactive Cost Comparison Tool to give consumers the delivered cost of energy;

• Prominent and clear information about the services of the UCA’s Consumer Mediation Team;

• Revamped content that’s easy to read, understand and ensures search engine optimization (SEO); and

• A searchable database that displays historical natural gas and electricity rates in a user-friendly format.

Visit: http://ucahelps.alberta.ca/