Foundation Introduces New Board Chair

The Alberta Real Estate Foundation (AREF) is pleased to announce that Doug Leighton has been elected to serve as the seventeenth Chair of the Board of Governors, effective January 27, 2020.  Doug has served on the Board of Governors since 2015 as a public member appointment, representing Alberta businesses. He will serve a two-year term.

Doug believes the Foundation is more important than ever. “Our province, the real estate industry, and Alberta’s communities were already facing significant economic challenges which have resulted in reduced community investment by corporations, other foundations, and philanthropists. In contrast, the Foundation has stepped up our investments and collaboration with others to leverage economic, environmental, and social benefits for Albertans,” Doug says. “The situation has since escalated into a critical public health and economic emergency with the unfolding COVID-19 pandemic that affects all Albertans. In response, the Foundation is adding greater flexibility for our grantees and exploring opportunities to respond nimbly and collaboratively to the needs of our stakeholders.”

Doug’s priority as Chair is to continue delivering on the purpose and mandate of the Foundation.  “The Foundation was established almost thirty years ago through far-sighted provincial legislation. Since that time, the Foundation has received the interest from the many small trust accounts of individual real estate brokers. These public funds are then aggregated and re-invested into research, education, innovation, and projects for the benefit of both the real estate industry and all Albertans.” He says. “We have a great Board and team, all focused on improving and building on our successful track record of the past thirty years.”

Doug is a graduate of the Master’s program in Environmental Design at the University of Calgary, with additional studies in Finance (Queens), Urban Design and Management (Harvard), and Leadership (Banff Centre). He has taught at several universities and was appointed Planner in Residence by the University of Calgary for both 2019 and 2020.

Doug is currently Principal of EDG (Environmental Design Group) specializing in planning, urban design and sustainable development.  He claims three careers so far: as a corporate executive (Alberta and BC), consulting firm principal (New Zealand), and in senior planning positions (Whistler and Banff). He is a member of the Institute of Corporate Directors, the Canadian Institute of Planning, and Royal Architecture Institute of Canada. He has served as a Director of the Alberta, New Zealand, and BC Planning Institutes; as well as ULI Alberta and QUEST Canada.

Doug brings to the role of Chair an understanding of organizational governance and strategy together with experience in all four of AREF’s areas of interest: Community Innovation, Education & Research, Housing, and Land Stewardship & Environment. “The Foundation will continue to do its part to support Albertans and welcomes strategic and funding partnerships with groups that share its commitment to this great province.” Doug says, “Let’s overcome the challenges of the times together.”

Going Forward – The Foundation In Unique Times

Albertans and people around the world are responding to the extraordinary and evolving circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the Alberta Real Estate Foundation we are thankful for the dedication and purposeful action by our grantees, partners and industry stakeholders which is contributing towards strengthening Alberta’s of our communities.

In an effort to provide support through this period of increased uncertainty, the Foundation is committed to the following:

  • We will continue to process grant payments in a timely fashion, respond quickly to questions, and to support open projects through to completion. We have put the necessary technology in place to enable our team to work remotely and we can still be reached through phone and email. In an effort to do what we can to “flatten the curve”, any in-person meetings scheduled for the coming months will be moved to teleconference and video online.
  •  We will not be asking any organisation to return funds due to impacts to a project or event resulting from COVID-19.  If you have any concerns regarding your project, please contact us. We are open to working with you to adapt the project so it can get back on track or discuss the potential of redirect funding, depending on how your organisation would like to move forward.
  •  We will be flexible on timelines and deadlines for reporting. When you determine the amount of time your project will require, you can let us know.
  •  We will be open to discussing the potential of releasing grant payments early, if organisations are facing cash flow concerns.
  •  We will connect with our philanthropic and government partners to identify opportunities to respond nimbly and collaboratively to the needs of our stakeholders.

Grantmaking going forward:

Our existing grant program will move forward as planned. Our next round will be in May, for a decision in June. Please visit our Get Funding page for more details and to submit your inquiry.

Over the coming weeks and months we will determine if there is additional support the Alberta Real Estate Foundation can provide. Now is a good time to prepare for what happens in the medium to long term, even if that preparation is just in the form of thought experiments and “what-ifs” to think through the possibilities.

If you have any questions or suggestions for us, please don’t hesitate to reach out to

March 2020 Community Investment

The Board of Governors of the Alberta Real Estate Foundation approved $616,500 in community investment projects at their recent meeting.

The Alberta Real Estate Foundation (AREF) invests in real estate policy, research, practices, and education that strengthen Alberta’s communities. AREF was established in 1991 under the Alberta Real Estate Act. Since then, it has awarded over 22 million dollars in community and industry grants to nearly 630 projects across Alberta.

Projects approved at the March 2020 meeting include:

ANPHA Regional Housing Collective (Alberta Network of Public Housing Agencies) – ANPHA seeks to provide leadership to advance the affordable housing sector and act as a convener and resource to connect stakeholders from a wide variety of sources who could benefit from information sharing, networking and direct support. This project will establish an opportunity for individuals and organizations within the non-profit housing sector to establish strong regional relationships with one another, and both the provincial and national sector. Uniting the sector together will result in a stronger unified voice that can accomplish collectively what could not be done individually.

Cities Institute: Kick-off conference (University of Alberta, School of Business) – The Cities Institute looks to be a global leader in facilitating collaboration in urban research, teaching, and partnerships which will ensure that Edmonton, and other cities in Canada, can benefit from the latest advances in technology and city building. The Cities Institute will launch in spring 2021 with a conference what will engage researchers, teachers, government officers, NGOs, and industry members who are involved in city building. The ultimate goal of the Cities Institute’s conference is to foster ‘city builders’ both on and off campus and kick-start projects that will help to make Edmonton and Alberta a more viable, livable, and competitive city and province.

Condominium Law Education Project (Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta) – This phase of the Condominium Law Education Project will update resources to reflect recent legislative changes while continuing to deliver credible and plain language materials to Albertans, staying up to date on condominium law developments and condo industry issues. This project currently reaches over 70,000 resource users per year, which include condominium buyers, owners, board members and real estate professionals.

Defining Challenges and Opportunities for South Saskatchewan Watershed communities under a rapidly changing climate (University of Lethbridge) – This project will prepare urban and rural communities in the South Saskatchewan Watershed for climate change in two ways. The project will provide an extreme weather events analyses necessary to adapt infrastructure and operations systems to cope with increasing weather stresses.  Second, it will provide transition opportunities to renewable energy systems that provide community resiliency, energy security and price stability with a meaningful greenhouse gas management plan.

Diversity Certified (e4c) – e4c and Edmonton Shift Lab will co-develop a training curriculum and toolkit for market landlords and non-market housing providers on the prevention of discrimination in housing.  This training will reflect input and collaboration between landlords, housing providers, and renters.  Diversity Certified will set up housing professionals for success through encouraging positive and reciprocal relationships between landlords and tenants, through reduced tenant turnover and tenant satisfaction, and through growing more cohesive rental communities where residents from diverse backgrounds are welcome.

Fort Vermilion & Area Seniors’ & Elders’ Lodge (Fort Vermilion & Area Seniors’ & Elders’ Lodge Board 1788) – There is an under-reported demand for supportive living facilities in Fort Vermilion and the surrounding area. The Fort Vermilion & Area Seniors & Elders Lodge Board 1788 is leading a community based initiative to create more supportive living space. By working with subject matter experts in various fields, this group will create a hopefully replicable process for other grassroots movements to follow.

Soil Health: Policy, Science, and Law in Action (University of Alberta, Alberta Land Institute) –  The Alberta Land Institute, together with other stakeholders, will engaged in promoting scientific research, government policy, producer practices, and public education and outreach related to soil health.  ALI will convene a stakeholders’ working group, conduct a scan (policy, regulatory, governance, and social action) in Alberta and across Canada, and compile a resource guide for policymakers and members of the public.

Welcome to the Lake Program (Pigeon Lake Watershed Association) – The Welcome to the Lake Program engages realtors as healthy-lake stewards to help generate awareness about healthy-lake practices that will protect the lake and support a resilient ecosystem and strong community. This program provides training and resources for Alberta realtors selling properties in watersheds in Alberta. The professional development themes include watershed basics for maintaining a healthy lake, low impact development solutions, and lake wise landscaping with in-person training options for realtors selling in the Pigeon Lake watershed and online options for realtors selling properties in other watersheds across the province. To share their knowledge, this program offers realtors with a welcome stewardship package that they can provide to new home owners. Alberta v4.0 & Educating Alberta’s Landowners on Policy Changes (University of Alberta, School of Business) – This project will update data on more than 600,000 Alberta oil and gas wells; add new features to the website including township search function, inactive and abandoned wells, and municipal tax revenues related to oil and gas activity.  It will also make available on a version of the content developed as part of the Pembina Institute’s Landowners’ Guide to Oil and Gas Development and Primer.

The University will also work with the Pembina Institute on the policy review of oil and gas liabilities by the Government of Alberta. The goal will be to inform landowners on what the proposed policy changes are and how they may potentially impact them. A roundtable will convene various experts in this area including representatives from landowner groups, WellWiki, University of Calgary, government, industry, the Orphan Well Association and the Alberta Energy Regulator. Based on discussion and conclusions from the roundtable, resources will be developed for rural Albertans.