East Central Alberta Cumulative Effects Project (ECACEP)

Developing a Shared Understanding and Commitment to Our Desired Future

Over the past decade, Alberta has experienced unprecedented growth. Oil and gas, forestry and mining, agriculture and recreation, housing and infrastructure are all in competition to use the land. Today’s rapid growth in population and economic activity is placing considerable pressure on Alberta’s landscapes.

Alberta’s Land-use Framework is a comprehensive strategy to better manage public and private lands and natural resources to achieve Alberta’s long-term economic, environmental and social goals. It is a significant step forward in the evolution of land-use planning and decision-making in Alberta.

Rather than approving new developments one project at a time, the Land-use Framework’s seven regional plans are intended to be implemented using a cumulative effects management system. This system guides growth and development based on a shared understanding and commitment to a desired future, so that the impacts of our activities today can be managed in a way that achieves our vision for tomorrow. To translate our vision into reality, the desired future is described in the form of outcome statements, which are used to provide strategic guidance for future development and action.

In advance of the release of the Land-use Framework in December 2008, Alberta Environment sponsored the East Central Alberta Cumulative Effects Management Project to examine how to engage communities in discussions about their future, and then how to translate their vision for the future into environmental, economic and social outcomes. This work has now been completed.

This new and innovative community engagement process, designed to elicit a collective vision of the future from which outcomes can be distilled, will now be used to inform the development of the seven regional plans for Alberta’s Land-use Framework.

Contents of this website

This website has been developed to document the East Central Alberta Cumulative Effects Project, and to support the efforts of community leaders involved in this project to share their work with others in their East Central Alberta communities.

Project - This section briefly describes the purpose of this project and the new and innovative approach used to engage people in creative dialogue about the future of their communities.

Workshops - This section describes the process in more detail. From June 2008 to March 2009, community leaders spent 11 days working together during eight workshops. The first three workshops focused on scenario planning, where they identified and developed four extreme, yet plausible scenarios (stories) about possible futures in their region. Through this structured, disciplined, yet creative approach to discussing the future, participants in the fourth workshop were able to describe the future they desired for their children and grandchildren. In the next two workshops, participants were introduced to the cumulative effects management system, and the role outcome statements play in guiding growth and development. In the last two workshops, they developed outcome statements describing the desired state of the environment, the economy, energy, their communities, and the decision-making process required to achieve their desired future.

Topic Area Briefs and Focus Papers - These sections provide access to all the information developed and provided to project participants. Twenty-six (26) Topic Area Briefs were prepared by Government of Alberta ministries in advance of the first workshop to provide an overview of a wide range of topics that could be of interest when considering the future of this region. Another 27 Focus Papers were developed at the request of workshop participants to respond to their information needs.

Scenarios: Stories of Possible Futures - You are invited to listen or read the four stories of possible futures developed by workshop participants. In addition to the stories, you can also see the underlying assumptions identified by participants to create the framework upon which each story is based. This section provides you with an insight into systems thinking, and an understanding of the complex interrelationships that drive change and impact our future.

Desired Future - Armed with a deeper understanding of the complex systems in which we live, and the wide ranging consequences of our growth and development decisions, workshop participants described their desired future.

Outcomes - Learn about outcome statements, what they are used for and how they are developed. Then examine the outcome statements developed by workshop participants that describe the desired future state of the environment, the economy, energy, their communities, and the decision-making process required to achieve their desired future.

Discussion Guide - This section suggests how you may want to approach using the scenarios as a tool to develop a shared understanding and commitment to a desired future and to examine the content of outcome statements. Outcomes form the foundation of the cumulative effects management system and the regional plans currently being developed under the Land-use Framework. A shared commitment to achieving the outcomes will provide the basis for guiding future growth and development in your region.