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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 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

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.

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

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.

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.