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Scanning the Landscape – Celebrating 25 years

In the fall of 2016, the Alberta Real Estate Foundation celebrated 25 years of making a difference for the industry and Albertans. Since 1991, we have awarded grants to over 537 worthwhile industry and community causes—that’s more than $17.5 million dollars of support across the province.

Given the economic times in Alberta, the Foundation decided it was a good time to check in with our stakeholders to see how they think we’re doing and engage in a conversation about the state of our province. As such, we chose “Scanning The Landscape” to be the theme of the year’s strategy as we reflected on our current situation while looking forward to future opportunities to ensure the Foundation remains true to its mandate of funding initiatives and research that make Alberta great.

In the spirit of “Scanning The Landscape”, we held two World Café styled luncheons, one in Calgary and another in Edmonton. More than 100 stakeholders, including government, industry, and grantees, attended the events where they were able to network and provide input.

Following the luncheons, 65 former and current grantees were invited to participate in an on-line survey to give input on the Foundation’s strategy and values, grant process and evaluation process as well as communications. The findings from this survey, along with the notes from the World Café luncheons, will help inform the Foundation’s strategy and help it become a more effective funder.

The following report pulls primarily from data collected from the survey:

 

 

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.

 

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/

 

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

After the fire for landlords and tenants in Alberta

The Fort McMurray wildfire affects many people, including landlords and tenants. You may have questions about what the wildfire means for your renting situation.

For more information, read the Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta’s “After the fire for landlords and tenants in Alberta“.

New Energy Efficiency Agency Coming to Alberta

The recent announcement of a new energy efficiency agency for Alberta is good news for the real estate sector as energy efficiency programs have a proven track record of helping consumers save money and increasing the value of real estate.

In fact, energy efficiency programs currently exist in every province in Canada and state in the U.S. except Alberta. This was discovered as part of research undertaken by the Alberta Energy Efficiency Alliance (AEEA), a grantee of the Alberta Real Estate Foundation.

“Energy efficiency programs have been saving consumers money since the 1970s,” sums up Jesse Row, Executive Director of the AEEA. “In Alberta, we’ve been funding energy efficiency programs just when there’s a government surplus, but the opposite approach is taken just about everywhere else.”

Research conducted by the AEEA has identified that most energy efficiency programs in Canada and the U.S. are funded every month through a modest charge on utility bills. The funds are then used to help households and businesses reduce their energy consumption and save three to four times more money than they cost.

“Most energy efficiency programs need to report publicly to an energy regulator to make sure they’re making good use of consumer dollars,” adds Row. “Not only have programs demonstrated a suitable return on investment for consumers over the years, provinces and states have increased their funding as they’ve seen that energy efficiency is the cheapest way to meet increasing energy demand.”

More recently, energy efficiency programs have also been used to stimulate the economy and create jobs during economic downturns. During the last recession and recovery in the U.S., numbers compiled by the AEEA show that funding for energy efficiency programs went from US$3 billion in 2007 to US$8 billion in 2011. This funding increase happened at both the state level and through the U.S. federal government (mainly though the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act). Not only did energy efficiency programming in the U.S. increase during their last recession, it has maintained this level of funding as states continue to see a strong return on these investments.

For the real estate sector, the launch of an energy efficiency agency in Alberta creates opportunities to deliver more value-added services to clients. Energy efficiency programs in other provinces and states are very popular with households and businesses. These programs typically provide direct support for consumers, including financial incentives, to save energy through a combination of behaviour changes and physical upgrades to properties. The real estate sector is ideally positioned to help consumers take advantage of these new programs.

Once these programs are in place, the benefits to Alberta’s real estate sector are significant. A recent study commissioned by the AEEA shows that even an average-sized energy efficiency program for Alberta has the potential to result in over $200 million in additional energy efficiency upgrades to homes and buildings in the province each year. These investments lead directly to increased property values and over $500 million in annual energy bill savings for consumers. These savings can then be reinvested into other parts of the economy and create additional economic benefits for the province.

Keep up to date on the latest energy efficiency developments in Alberta through the Alberta Energy Efficiency Alliance (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook) or by signing up for an AEEA membership.

can-usa-jan2016 (002)

 

Energy Poverty in Alberta

A surprising number of Albertans are being left out in the cold… inside their own homes.

They are the energy poor, those hard pressed to pay their utility bills. Living in cold, damp homes impacts their health and well being, especially the elderly, young, disabled and those with long-term illnesses. Needless to say, they can ill afford the energy-efficiency measures that would improve their lives and benefit the environment.

About 455,000 Albertans live in energy poverty. These low-income families spend three times more disposable income on home energy—heating, cooking and lighting—than the average household. For the poorest, it’s more than 9 per cent of their after-tax income.

The energy poor must often make difficult choices between competing necessities such as energy, water, food and clothing. The most dramatic choice for some is to “heat or eat.” Indeed, evidence suggests the poorest households, especially among seniors, spend less on food in winter to pay for additional heating.

Living in cold homes can contribute to heart disease, reduced lung function, suppressed immune systems, asthma attacks and exacerbated arthritis. It is also associated with increased stress, social isolation and, for children, impaired educational success.

Energy poverty thus results in increased public costs for health care and social services. One study suggests that every $1 spent on raising living temperatures to acceptable standards saves 42 cents in health-care costs.

Alberta’s energy poor could also be disproportionately impacted by any changes to the provincial government’s climate-change policies. Such changes will likely lead to increased energy prices, hurting poorer households, which ironically emit fewer greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than the norm.

The most cost-effective, sustainable solution to this problem is to increase the energy efficiency of energy-poor households, starting with those most in need. Realistically, this can only happen with substantial subsidies.

Many jurisdictions in Canada and the U.S. operate and fund energy efficiency and conservation programs for low-income households. In Calgary, All One Sky Foundation has for several years operated a demonstration Energy Angel program, which provides energy-efficiency upgrades to the homes of low-income seniors.

But this is just a start for what needs to be a much more widespread effort. Tackling energy poverty in Alberta offers a potential win-win-win for three important environmental and social policy agendas: climate-change mitigation and greenhouse gas reduction; health and well-being; and poverty alleviation.

Read All One Sky Foundation’s “Energy Poverty – An Agenda for Alberta” report here.

All-One-Sky-Foundation

 

 

*Image: Helen Corbett, Executive Director of the All One Sky Foundation with Alberta Real Estate Foundation Past Chair Gary Willson.

 

The Alberta Emerald Foundation Announces 25th Annual Emerald Awards Finalists

Today, at Calgary’s Eau Claire Market, hopeful nominees joined the Alberta Emerald Foundation (AEF), its sponsors, volunteers and other members from the local community, for the announcement of the 25th Annual Emerald Awards Finalists.

Over the past weeks, a panel of knowledgeable third-party judges with cross-sectoral experience rose to the challenge of narrowing down the brilliant examples of innovation and environmental achievement nominated this year for the uniquely-Albertan award. A maximum of three nominees in each of the ten Emerald Award categories have been selected as a finalist. Only one per category will take home the award.

“The Alberta Emerald Foundation is at the forefront of celebrating great achievements in sustainable development, bringing awareness to the many unique environmental projects occurring throughout Alberta,” says Aaron Dublenko, past Emerald Award recipient and member of the current judging panel. “Whether it’s schools, industry, government, non-governmental agencies, large or small companies, anyone can be acknowledged for their ingenuity in sustainable practices. Such recognition reminds us that despite the many pressures our air, water and soil face, people are working tirelessly to use less, reduce their footprints and educate others on how to do the same.”

“We are the only Foundation in the country to recognize the important work of environmental leaders across all sectors,” says Andy Etmanski, Chair of the Board, AEF. “By honouring and elevating the ingenuity, dedication and hard work of these individuals and organizations, we inspire others to follow their example, benefiting all Albertans with a healthier and cleaner environment.”

The Emerald Awards recognize and celebrate environmental excellence achieved by individuals, not-for-profit associations, large and small corporations, community groups and governments from across Alberta. Since 1992, the Emerald Awards has recognized over 475 finalists and 280 recipients who have demonstrated creative thinking and innovation in environmental management systems, technologies and education programs.

The 25th Annual Emerald Awards will be presented on June 8, 2016 at Telus Spark in Calgary.

Congratulations to ALUS in Alberta and Beaver Hills Initiative for being named finalists in the Shared Footprint category!

To read the full list of finalists, visit the Alberta Emerald Foundation’s website here.

AREF Announces Support of the Energy Futures Lab

The Board of Governors of the Alberta Real Estate Foundation (AREF) approved a grant of $250,000 to foster community engagement with a focus on energy literacy across Alberta through the Energy Futures Lab. This is a bold commitment by AREF toward co-creating the province’s energy future as part of the Foundation’s 25th anniversary.

“This is an important conversation to have in the province and it affects all Albertans.” Charlie Ponde, Chair of the AREF Board of Governors states. “The Board is pleased that the Energy Futures Lab is representing a microcosm of Alberta as a whole by engaging industry, government, academia, non-for-profit and First Nations to achieve a robust and constructive conversation.”

Cheryl De Paoli, AREF’s Executive Director, and an EFL Steering Committee Member for the past year, adds, “We want people to really understand where their energy comes from, and to understand what it means to talk about renewables and innovation. We have to get beyond an “Us vs. Them” argument and a commitment to energy literacy is going to be a big part of getting us there.”

AREF’s funding is to support the Energy Futures Lab’s public engagement commitment to share more broadly EFL Fellowship discussions, prototyping and new innovations with communities across Alberta.

“Our grant to the Energy Futures Lab is AREF’s commitment to Alberta’s innovative spirit.” Cheryl De Paoli states, “We have a history of incredible ingenuity in getting oil and gas out of the ground and to market. And this spirit will be critical in setting ourselves on a path to move beyond oil and gas, and to position Alberta as a global energy leader now and into the future.”

One of the major opportunities to engage Albertans in shaping their energy future is the Newtonian Shift game which is an immersive simulation game that condenses 20 years of energy transition into a single day. Players take on one of a variety of roles within an outdated and inefficient energy system and collaborate in order to create the energy system of the future or risk being left behind. Over the coming year, a series of game sessions will be hosted in communities across Alberta. The first two of these will be held in Calgary on Thursday, April 7 and Edmonton on Thursday, April 14.

Read the full announcement on the Energy Futures Lab here.

The grant is made under the AREF’s new Community Innovation funding stream which supports projects, practices and ideas that encourage experimentation with the goal of creating new ways of realizing community potential and character within Alberta.

Board Chair named REALTOR® of the Year

We are delighted to announce that Alberta Real Estate Foundation Board Chair, Charlie Ponde, was named REALTOR® of the Year at the REALTORS® Association of Edmonton’s gala dinner on March 4th, 2016.

Charlie has been an active and full-time member of the REALTORS® Association of Edmonton ever since he entered the real estate profession in 1992. Charlie was elected and served as the President of the REALTORS® Association of Edmonton in 2000. He has served on numerous committees relating to real estate including AREX Claims Committee, the Edmonton Realtors’ Charitable Foundation (Governor and President), the Arbitration and Professional Standards Committee, the Technology Committee and the Government and Political Action Committee.

Charlie is also an active member of the community. His involvement includes the Affordable Housing Committee, Sign of Hope Campaign – Catholic Social Services, The Christmas Bureau, Realty Watch and the Neighborhood Watch Programs, St. Albert Lottery Board, St. Albert’s City Plan 2000 Advisory Committee (Municipal Development Plan), the Edmonton Immigrant Services Association and is a Director with CARP, a seniors national advocacy organization.

Charlie was named Chair of the Alberta Real Estate Foundation Board on January 1, 2016.

On behalf of the Board of Governors and staff of the Alberta Real Estate Foundation, we would like to offer our sincere congratulations to Charlie on this achievement. Thank you for your dedication to the industry and the community!

Read the REALTORS® Association of Edmonton announcement here.

 

March 2016 Community Investment

The Board of Governors of the Alberta Real Estate Foundation approved $445,000 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 March meeting include:

Accessible Housing Accessible U

Accessible U is an information hub about accessibility, especially in residential environments. Meeting information needs for Albertans experiencing mobility barriers, Accessible U is committed to making relevant, understandable information readily available to everyone. We’re creating a space to inform and empower people, creating a more accessible Alberta.

Alberta Rural Development Network (ARDN) ARDN Sustainable Housing Initiative

There is an acute shortage of affordable housing in many rural Alberta communities. ARDN will work with several rural communities to start addressing this issue by conducting affordable housing needs assessments and feasibility studies in a coordinated and cost effective manner, and create and share a model of best practices.

Alternative Land Use Services (ALUS) Communications and Outreach for the ALUS Alberta Municipal Alliance (AAMA)

The AAMA is made up of ten ALUS communities, led by ALUS in partnership with municipalities. These programs are changing private land and conservation dynamics in several ways: they incentivize conservation activities on agricultural land by paying for ecosystem services; they build ownership over conservation and community support (each community forms a Partnership Advisory Committee made up of farmers, municipal officials, realtors, watershed based conservation groups, etc.); and they achieve measurable, verified conservation.

Capital Region Housing Foundation (HOME Program) MOVE Forward

The MOVE Forward Program encompasses education, counselling and advocacy, and referral to service providers to assist and support individuals to become successful, stable tenants/renters. Program components include 12 hours of in-class education deigned to create a personalized plan for stable housing; improve an individual’s communication skills, and create a workable household budget that makes rent a priority. The core of the program is the education component of six 120 minute sessions delivered by a team of specialized facilitators and community experts.

Centre for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology (CAWST) Alberta Water Issues CAWST Capacity Building Workshop Package

CAWST is bringing its model for adult water education home to Alberta. With local partners, we will co-develop and pilot 3-5 lesson plans that introduce members of corporate groups and community organizations to water and sanitation issues, building their capacity to protect Alberta’s resources and share this knowledge.

The Natural Step Energy Futures Lab

The Energy Futures Lab (EFL) is an Alberta-based collaboration for tackling the interconnected issues of climate change, energy security, and sustainable development today in order to build the foundation for Alberta’s future prosperity. The convening question for the EFL is: How can Alberta’s leadership position in today’s energy system serve as a platform for the transition to the energy system that the future requires of us? We are requesting funding to develop and implement the public engagement stream of the EFL, which will use a community innovation approach to engage more than 100,000 Albertans, including real estate stakeholders, in dialogue, learning and action about energy transition in the province.

The Pembina Institute Renewable Best Practices

Over the next 15 years, wind capacity in Alberta will roughly quadruple, with the provincial goal of 30% renewable electricity by 2030. While wind is a cleaner source of electricity, some residents have concerns about the impact on vistas, property values, and local and migratory species. These concerns are best mitigated proactively by adhering to best practices for wind development. The purpose of this project is to highlight best practices that empower and benefit stakeholders as well as minimize the impact on the ecosystem, and to build a framework that will enable  development of responsible and socially acceptable wind projects in Alberta.

The University of Lethbridge Challenges and Solutions in Acquiring Water for Housing Development

Housing development is a $10 billion industry in Alberta. However, it may be curtailed by lack of water needed to service new residential communities. This study explores the challenges and solutions to acquiring water for housing development and the secondary impact a decline in the industry could have on the real estate market.

Community Energy Plans drive economic development, cut energy costs, reduce emissions and create jobs

The Foundation is involved in the Community Energy Planning Getting to Implementation in Canada (GTI) Initiative. GTI is a multi-year national initiative that is empowering communities to take a leading role on energy, including innovative energy projects such as renewable electricity, district energy, biomass, landfill gas capture, clean transportation, electric vehicles and others.

On February 10th, GTI released a new research report Community Energy Planning: The Value Proposition prepared by Sustainable Prosperity. The report states that Canadian communities have untapped opportunities to strengthen local economies, reduce current and future energy costs and emissions, and create jobs by investing in smarter and more integrated approaches to energy use at the local level. In addition, community energy planning has a positive effect on environmental and community health goals, as well as economic ones.

To read the full report please visit: www.gettingtoimplementation.ca/research

Edmonton Library Users Can Test Home Energy Consumption

Homeowners are now able to perform an informal energy audit of their home with Green HomeEnergy Toolkits available from Edmonton Public Libraries. A grant from the Alberta Real Estate Foundation (AREF) to the City of Edmonton helped make the kits available.

Each kit is self-contained in a sturdy case and includes a digital thermometer, power meters, instructional booklets, and other tools to help homeowners examine their utility consumption. Once the excess uses of power, heat, or water are found, homeowners can reduce the waste and save on the cost of utilities.

Charlie Ponde, AREF chair, joined Edmonton City Councillor Michael Walters and the Manager of Collections, Management and Access Division, Edmonton Public Library, Sharon Karr, on January 14 to announce the kits’ availability.

“For the last 25 years, our foundation has strived to support initiatives that make a real difference in the industry and in the lives of Albertans,” said Ponde. “By taking the initiative on energy efficiency, the City of Edmonton is a model for many other municipalities across the province.”

There is no cost to borrow a kit. The kits can be ordered and checked out of any Edmonton Public Library branch like books or records and kept for up to three weeks. There is already a backlog of several hundred requests for the kits. The City of Edmonton has also placed kits with the two school boards for use by students and has kits available for promotional purposes at trade shows and exhibits.

Similar kits are available in other communities in Alberta (Red Deer) and the interest in Edmonton is spurring other municipalities (St. Albert and Okotoks) and library systems to acquire their own kits.

The low-down on condos in Alberta

CREB®Now sat down with Amelia Martin, executive director for the Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta, to get answers on everything from how to review a condo board’s documents to knowing your rights as an investor.

CPLEA recently unveiled a new resource (www.condolawalberta.ca) funded by the Alberta Real Estate Foundation to help Albertans thinking about buying a condo, currently living in one, or considering selling or renting their condo.

Click here to read the full interview on CREB®Now’s website.

Foundation introduces Governor Doug Leighton

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

Prior to becoming involved with AREF, Doug was aware of the positive effects of AREF’s counterpart in BC: “I served on the Planning Institute of BC and we co-sponsored a successful bi-annual ‘Land Summit’ with the Real Estate Foundation of BC.”

As a result, when he arrived in Alberta, Doug was quick to become involved with AREF. He is pleased to join AREF’s Board of Governors as his personal and professional interests are highly aligned with the Foundation’s values and objectives.

Doug is one of the three Public Appointments sitting on the Board of Governors and  hopes to contribute his experience in the private and public sectors. He has a strong background in housing, urban design and sustainable development as well as connections with the land development and housing industries.

“I think that communication and collaboration between all the players involved in real estate, land and housing is critical,” Doug says. “I feel privileged to join the AREF Board and to help advance its mandate to the benefit of Albertans.”

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Doug is Vice President, Sustainability for Brookfield Residential Properties, a leading North American homebuilding and land development company. A proponent of good planning and urban design, he has more than 30 years international experience as a professional planner and architect in the public and private sectors.

A graduate of the University of Calgary (BA Geography and Masters Environmental Design), Doug initially worked as an architect and planner in Calgary and Vancouver. He moved to the public sector as Senior Planner for the Resort Municipality of Whistler. He was founding Director of Planning and Development for the Town of Banff, where he led the Downtown Enhancement Project and helped establish the Banff Housing and Heritage Corporations.

In 1997 Doug moved to New Zealand and became principal of a leading consultancy. He helped develop the NZ Urban Design Protocol and advised clients as diverse as Housing New Zealand, Waterfront Auckland and Shania Twain.

Doug returned to Canada in 2008 to represent Carma Developers (now Brookfield Residential) on Vancouver Island; and finally ‘came home’ to Calgary in 2012.

Doug has served as a Director of the Alberta, New Zealand and British Columbia Planning Institutes. He currently serves on the Board of ULI Calgary and was appointed to the Board of Governors of the Alberta Real Estate Foundation in November, 2015.