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/

 

EPL hosts Dr. Tim Beatley & Edmonton joins the Biophilic Cities Network

By: Edmonton Public Library

The Edmonton Public Library (EPL) was pleased to bring Dr. Tim Beatley to speak about Becoming a Biophilic City as part of our Forward Thinking Speaker Series. The event, held at the Stanley A. Milner Library Theatre on June 2, was supported by the Alberta Real Estate Foundation with a 25th Anniversary grant. Dr. Beatley was the seventh speaker in our series, which began nearly two years ago, and reflects our rich history of taking risks, trying new things and redefining the modern library. Through our Forward Thinking Speaker Series, we bring in a wide variety of thought leaders to challenge and inspire Edmontonians, and to help build a resilient and supportive community.

The enthusiastic response from Edmontonians was apparent, with more than 200 people in attendance. Dr. Beatley, an internationally recognized sustainable city researcher and author, shared examples of Biophilia from around the world and encouraged guests to start incorporating it into their everyday lives in order to further integrate nature in our communities. At the end of Dr. Beatley’s presentation, City of Edmonton Chief Planner Peter Ohm announced Edmonton has passed a resolution to join the Biophilic Cities Network.

We are thrilled those in attendance were reminded we need nature in our lives more than ever today, and how to care about, protect, restore and grow urban nature. We all now better understand how cities become more biophilic, and how important it is for us to tell the stories of the places and people building these urban-nature connections.

EPL is extremely thankful for the Alberta Real Estate Foundation, and their generosity in funding the event with a grant. It wouldn’t have happened without your support!

Feedback from attendees:

“It was interesting; I was glad to learn what a Biophilic city is, and that Edmonton has ‘joined the club.’”

“I’m glad there was a forum for something that is about making our world a better place!”

Click here to learn more about the Biophilic Cities Network.

EPL Twitter

June 2016 Community Investment

The Board of Governors of the Alberta Real Estate Foundation approved $235,000 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 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. To celebrate we launched a new area of interest call Community Innovation and will be highlighting past grantees. Keep in touch with AREF through our website or on Twitter (@arefabca) to ensure you do not miss out on what is to come!

Projects approved at the June meeting include:

Alberta Energy Efficiency Alliance Maximizing Alberta’s Energy Efficiency Opportunity (Land Stewardship and Environment)

To date, the Alberta Energy Efficiency Alliance (AEEA) has made significant progress in motivating the creation of new energy efficiency programs for Alberta. These programs will lead to about $300 million of program funding over the next three years, but investments past that time are still uncertain. With this project, the AEEA proposes to work with government and stakeholders to help ensure Alberta’s new EE programs continue beyond a three year horizon and grow over time.

Institute for Community Prosperity Vivacity (Community Innovation)

Vivacity is an inter-institututional collaboration between 6 post-secondary institutions and Calgary Economic Development. Vivacity engages inter-disciplinary teams of students in the re-design and activation of community spaces in vacant and underutilized areas of the city.

Calgary Aging In Place Co-operative Operations Start-Up (Housing)

The Calgary Aging-in-Place Co-operative is designed to find ways to support our aging communities, so individuals can afford to stay in their homes, as they age. In finding everyday affordable services based on the needs of each member we can ensure that everyone has an opportunity to “age-in-place.”

Land Stewardship Centre of Canada The Green Acreages Guide Primer Re-print (Land Stewardship and Environment)

This project will see the update and re-print of a wildly successful education and awareness tool, The Green Acreages Guide Primer. The Primer will be updated with content which was identified by partners as a necessary instalment to fulfilling landowners’ educational needs. By project end, realtors, stewards and Albertans everywhere will again have access to a key resource to assist them in sustainably managing their property for the benefit of the environment.

Inside Education E3/C3 Project (Education and Research)

An experiential energy efficiency and climate change education and action program for Edmonton, Calgary and surrounding areas junior high and high school students. Two parallel learning experiences – Edmonton Energy Efficiency (E3) and Calgary Climate Change (C3) – will provide students real-world insight into energy conservation in their lives at school and home today and into the future.

Southwest Alberta Sustainable Community Initiative (SASCI) Planning for a Sustainable Economic Future in Pincher Creek (Education and Research)

This project will establish a factual basis for understanding potential economic and social/community impacts that may occur with closure of the Waterton Complex, and to use that foundation to inform and facilitate dialogue with and action by the affected communities regarding transition to a sustainable economy.

The Alex The Alex Community Food Centre (Community Innovation)

All of The Alex’s programs build a community of healthy individuals by understanding how to tackle complex social issues that are the source of hunger, poverty, and poor health. The Community Food Centre joins our growing family of preventative programs through a national partnership that has seen proven results. By connecting people with healthy food, skills, and education, the Community Food Centre provides a ground-breaking, results-oriented solution that makes real change in our community.

Pembina Institute for Appropriate Development Alberta Landowner’s Guide to Oil and Gas Development: Phase Two (Education and Research)

In light of the significant changes to operations and regulations that impact landowners, and the expansion of oil and gas operations since the last Landowner’s Guide was released, there is strong demand from landowners, municipalities, governments and real estate professionals for the tools to approach development issues knowledgeably. The Pembina Institute is uniquely positioned to deliver this tool in the form of the updated Landowner’s Guide.

Real Estate Council of Alberta Partners with University of Alberta School of Business to Raise the Bar in Commercial Real Estate Education

Calgary, Alberta – Commercial real estate education in Alberta will take an enormous step forward with a new partnership between the Real Estate Council of Alberta (RECA) and the University of Alberta.

RECA and the Alberta School of Business at the University of Alberta have entered into an agreement that will see the University’s business school develop a completely new Practice of Commercial Real Estate course. RECA will offer the course to individuals entering Alberta’s commercial real estate sector.

“RECA is extremely excited about this new partnership,” says Council Chair, Krista Bolton. “This is the first time RECA has partnered with a university for course development. Commercial practitioners have told us the current commercial real estate education in Alberta doesn’t go far enough; the new commercial course will be a game-changer.”

The Alberta School of Business already offers real estate courses as part of its Bachelor of Commerce and MBA programs. Its experience in these areas makes it the perfect partner to develop RECA’s new leading-edge, university-level commercial real estate course.

Edmonton commercial real estate professional Chad Griffiths, who was Council Chair when RECA and the University of Alberta signed a Memorandum of Agreement, strongly supports the partnership and the new course. “From what I have seen of the planned course content, this truly is going to be the pre-eminent commercial real estate course in Canada.”

The new Practice of Commercial Real Estate course offered by RECA will launch in phases, beginning in Fall 2016. As each phases launches, RECA will incorporate it into the current Practice of Commercial Real Estate course.

The Alberta Real Estate Foundation, a funder and supporter of the Real Estate Program, has provided the Alberta School of Business with a $150,000 grant to partially fund the development of the new course.

To read the Real Estate Council of Alberta’s (RECA) announcement please visit their website here.

Congratulation to ALUS in Alberta on their win of the Shared Footprints Award!

Alternative Land Use Services (ALUS) in Alberta was awarded the Shared Footprints Award at the 25th Annual Emerald Awards, held on Thursday, June 8th at TELUS Spark.

“It’s such a thrill to accept the Shared Footprints Award, sponsored by the Alberta Real Estate Foundation,” said Christine Campbell, ALUS Canada’s Western Hub Manager, in her acceptance speech. “For ALUS, winning the Emerald Award is proof of something we’ve always known: Albertans appreciate the environmental stewardship work that farmers and ranchers are doing, for all our sakes.”

The Shared Footprints Award recognizes excellence in Integrated Land Management (ILM)—a strategic planned approach to managing and reducing the human-caused footprint on public and/or private land. All of the finalist in this category demonstrate collaboration, dedication and creativity in working to improve and enhance land use practices in Alberta.

ALUS Canada is a community-led, farmer-delivered program that supports stewardship activities on agricultural lands. ALUS programs have been established in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and Prince Edward Island. In all ALUS communities, farmers and ranchers obtain support to enable them to produce valuable ecological goods and services on their lands, via such activities as establishing or restoring wetlands, flood mitigation, carbon sequestration, creating wildlife habitat such as native Prairie pollinator strips, and more.

The County of Vermilion River adopted ALUS in 2010 as a means to address the loss of wetlands and other conservation issues associated with land-use changes in the area. Parkland County and Red Deer County quickly followed suit. Ten provincial municipalities have now adopted the ALUS program, with many more having expressed interest in joining this pioneering network. Together, Alberta’s ALUS communities are bridging the gap between environmental and agricultural activities by building a network of farmers and ranchers to lead conservation efforts throughout the province.

This is the third year the Alberta Real Estate Foundation has sponsored this award.

To read ALUS Canada’s press release visit their website here: PRESS RELEASE – ALUS Wins Alberta Emerald Award.

To see previous recipients of the Shared Footprints Award, visit the Alberta Emerald Foundation website here.

ALUS and AREF

Staff and Board from ALUS and AREF at the 25th Annual Emerald Awards (click to enlarge)

Alberta Septic Maintenance Pilot Program Launched

Partners come together to support responsible management of private onsite wastewater systems

By: Land Stewardship Centre

For rural homeowners, private onsite wastewater systems (septic systems) are often the only option for treating their household wastewater. How these systems are used, and the decisions homeowners make about how to manage and maintain their septic systems have the potential to have a significant cumulative effect on the Alberta landscape, the environment and our water resources.

The potential for operation issues or failures increases without routine maintenance. These failures can result in contamination of surface water and groundwater, and also pose a health risk to people and animals exposed to untreated wastewater.

Unfortunately, landowners in Alberta have not always had access to the information, resources and support that can help them responsibly manage their systems. So, in early 2015, Land Stewardship Centre (LSC), in partnership with Alberta Onsite Wastewater Management Association (AOWMA) launched Septic Sense, an onsite wastewater system education and outreach pilot program for landowners in Alberta.

“Surface water contamination from poorly managed and maintained septic systems can be an issue, especially around more developed recreational lakes. The Septic Sense pilot program is a proactive, collaborative approach to educating landowners, and helping them properly manage and maintain their septic systems can help address this concern,” says Amrita Grewal, Program Research Coordinator with LSC.

This multi-agency initiative is being rolled out as a one-year pilot project in order to implement, test and evaluate the feasibility of developing a full-fledged septic system operation and maintenance workshop program in Alberta. LSC and AOWMA have engaged representatives from government, municipalities and industry to serve on a Steering Committee and provide oversight for the pilot program. Alberta Municipal Affairs, Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development, Agriculture and Rural Development, in addition to the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties (AAMDC) and the Association of Summer Villages of Alberta (ASVA), have all been approached to join the Steering Committee.

Similar in format and style, and an excellent complement to the province’s long-standing Working Well program (www.workingwell.alberta.ca), the Septic Sense pilot program will offer a range of educational opportunities and resource materials for landowners, including a workshop and a homeowner’s guide developed by wastewater management experts that covers various types of septic systems and ways to cost-effectively maintain septic system. Program information will include an overview of the relevant legislation governing onsite wastewater systems and stress the importance of having licensed contractors design and install systems to ensure they meet all guidelines and requirements. Appropriate use and maintenance of septic systems, and a troubleshooting guide that addresses common issues and questions will also be included.

The response from municipalities and other organizations for this type of program has been extremely positive, and many have expressed how useful such a program will be to landowners.

For more information on the Septic Sense pilot program, contact AOWMA www.aowma.com or LSC www.landstewardship.org.

25 years of celebrating environmental successes with the Emerald Awards

From a couple that’s revived a Cree water blessing at the Battle River to teachers that inspire students, from projects at giant corporations to a young woman who worked in her basement to clean tailings ponds—the Alberta Emerald Awards shines a light on hundreds of environmental stars across the province.

“Since we began in 1992, the Emerald Awards have showcased 280 recipients from across Alberta in sectors from business, government, youth, individuals schools and more, each with its own unique environmental success story,” says Carmen Boyko, Executive Director, Alberta Emerald Foundation (AEF). “By showcasing the incredible dedication and hard work of the Emerald Award finalists and recipients we hope to inspire everyone to take a look at their everyday environmental habits and practices, helping to build toward a healthier more vibrant environment.”

As well as the Emerald Awards, the AEF holds Emerald Day events in communities across Alberta to showcase work by the finalists and recipients. Emerald Days include environmental booths, a speakers series featuring awards recipients and finalists well as activities for kids and an environmentally friendly family movie. AEF’s Youth Environmental Engagement Grant Program inspires “the next generation of eco-heroes” by giving up to 100 young people micro-grants of up to $400 for environmental projects across the province.

“I’m proud to be a part of this 25th annual celebration as we celebrate and showcase some pretty extraordinary achievements made by individuals and organizations, all of who are dedicated to protecting, preserving, enhancing and sustaining the environment,” says Boyko. “We know that Albertans are passionate about the environment and we are honoured to share new and innovated environmental research, technology and practices.”

AREF is happy to support the Emerald Awards’ Shared Footprint category to celebrate projects that go beyond normal land management to have a positive impact on the environment. “Recipients of the Shared Footprints Award go above and beyond land and water stewardship, building and shared knowledge, improving air quality and reducing land disturbances,” says Boyko. “AREF’s support with this category has been invaluable.”

The Emerald Awards are unique in Canada and helps bring governments, private industry, non-government organizations and individuals together in support of the environment. This year, 70 people and/or organizations were nominated for an award and there will be 32 finalists announced, across 12 categories. The Emerald Awards will be held June 8 at TELUS Spark in Calgary.

The Alberta Water Nexus Simulation

The Alberta WaterPortal, through sponsorship from the Alberta Real Estate Foundation, Enbridge, and Veolia, developed case studies, an interactive simulation, and Sankey diagram for users to explore the implications of the convergence of demands for water in the Bow River Basin. Known as the Nexus, this concept highlights the interconnectedness of water for food, energy, and communities.

A first in Alberta, the Alberta Nexus Project analyzed strategic plans as well as existing watershed and industry data within the Bow River Basin to create an interactive simulation that shows the influence of future water demand on overall water management and availability on a regional basis. Users can try their hand at water management to see how well they can manage the converging demands of water, in addition to population growth and climatic change, in 2030.

Regardless of where it is applied, the Nexus Concept is complex and shows the intricate nature of water management. As populations grow, the Nexus Concept and approach to decision-making will result in a more holistic water management process and help us to address the risk of resource scarcity.

See if you can manage water needs across the Bow River Basin in 2030:  http://www.albertawater.com/nexus-simulation