Community leaders from East Central Alberta and the Government of Alberta collaborated on a new approach to engaging communities in discussions about their future, and the cumulative impacts of growth and development on the environment, the economy and their communities.
The purpose of the East Central Alberta Cumulative Effects Project was to develop a more meaningful and integrated way to engage Albertans in discussions regarding their future quality of life and standard of living as defined by their social, economic and environmental values.
This is part of a cumulative effects management system, which is being developed to implement Alberta’s Land-use Framework.
Cumulative Effects Management System
Managing cumulative effects means we can no longer approve one development at a time without considering the collective impacts of all approved developments on our quality of life and standard of living. Each new development places new demands on our landscapes, and we must begin to understand, in a more integrated way, the implications of these impacts. A shared understanding and commitment to our desired future will help us make more informed choices regarding future growth and development.
The Government of Alberta has given Alberta Environment the mandate to develop a cumulative effects management system. This system is based on principles that support a commitment to a shared vision of the future. These principles include:
- Clear, place-specific outcomes: A shared commitment to environmental, economic and social outcomes (end-states) that reflect the values of people living in the area and fit within Government of Alberta priorities and strategic plans.
- Adaptive: Policies and practices are responsive to achieving the outcomes.
- Shared Stewardship: A shared commitment and responsibility for achieving the outcomes among all stakeholders, including government, industry, municipalities, organizations and residents.
- Knowledge-based: The system is based on a sound foundation of knowledge composed of information on the state of the environment, levels of human use and projections of use, and analysis of future impacts and environmental risks.
A cumulative effects management system is therefore founded on a shared vision of the future so that we can manage the impacts of our activities today in a way that achieves our vision for tomorrow.
Project Study Area
The project study area is in East Central Alberta, 45 minutes east of the City of Edmonton, encompassing the counties of Beaver, Camrose and Flagstaff, including the City of Camrose and the Town of Tofield. The north boundary runs east of Tofield along secondary highway 626; the east boundary runs south along highway 36 through Viking; the south boundary runs west along highway 53 to Bashaw; and the west boundary runs north, west of the City of Camrose, along highway 21.
The Community Outcomes Team
Community leaders from East Central Alberta were invited to become involved in the project by participating in a series of workshops as members of the Community Outcomes Team. This Team met for 11 days, from June 2008 to March 2009, during the course of eight workshops to draft their vision of a desired future, which could be used to guide growth and development in their region over the next 30 years.
From March to May 2008, Alberta Environment contacted counties, municipalities, community-based organizations, and industries currently operating in the study area to introduce the project and invite community leaders to participate.
The following community leaders agreed to participate in the project as members of the Community Outcomes Team:
||Anjah Howard, Planning
||Jim Kallal, County Council; Vernon Hafso,County Council; Bill Rogers, Planning
||Rick Bergseth, County Council; Gerald Kuefler, County Council
|City of Camrose
||Jeremy Enarson, Engineering
|Town of Tofield
||Harold Conquest, Town Council
|Battle River Alliance for Economic Development (BRAED)
||Harold Conque st, Town of Tofield
|Village of Ryley
||Elizabeth Kuz, Village Council
|Family and Community Support Services (FCSS)
||Tammy Oliver- McCurdie, Tofield/Ryley/Beaver-FCSS
|Battle River School Division #31
|University of Alberta, Augustana Campus
||Dr. Roger Epp, Dean
|Round Hill- Dodds Agricultural Protective Association (RH-DAPA)
|Voice of Community and Land Society (VOCAL)
|Battle River Watershed Alliance
||David Samm, Manager
|North Saskatchewan Watershed Alliance
||Graham Watt-Gremm, Watershed Planner
|Ducks Unlimited Canada
||Tracy Scott, Provincial watershed Coordinator
||Dione McGuinness, Community and Aboriginal Relations
||Rhonda King, Project Manager, ECACEP; Andy Lamb, Director, Central Region
Note regarding Sherritt International Corporation and the Dodds-Roundhill Project: Sherritt has proposed to develop the Dodds-Roundhill Coal Gasification Project, Canada’s first commercial coal gasification facility. While Sherritt is in the process of submitting its Environmental Impact Assessment application for a surface coal mine and gasification plant, it currently has no operations active in the study area. The company was therefore not invited to participate in the project at this time.
Alberta Environment sponsored the project, and provided staff and consultants to support the process and information needs of the Community Outcomes Team:
* Cecilia Ferreyra - Lead, Community Secretariat
* Chris Teichreb - Lead, Knowledge Task Team
* Fiona Slessor - Outcomes Coordinator
* Leanne Gruber - Administrative support
* Abells Henry Public Affairs: community engagement; scenario planning; workshop design and facilitation
* O2 Planning + Design Inc.: cumulative effects modeling
* Sierra Systems: project management support
A Community-led process
This process is described as community-led because community leaders provided the insight and information needed to develop a vision of the future, based on their local priorities and values. It is within this context that the project sponsor, Alberta Environment, worked with communities in the study area to develop environmental, economic and social outcomes that reflect their desired future.
By working together, government and community leaders mutually informed the process of crafting a shared understanding of the future. Community leaders had the opportunity to learn about the new cumulative effects management system and how their vision of the future aligns with provincial priorities. The Government of Alberta had the opportunity to share information and learn about both the desires and concerns of citizens living and working in the region, which will in turn help inform policies and practices.
To develop a shared understanding and commitment to a desired future, the Team:
- Imagined the future: Team members participated in three scenario planning workshops where they engaged in creative dialogue about the future, producing four very different stories about the future for this region of East Central Alberta. Each story is based on structurally different sets of forces. They illustrate extreme, yet plausible, examples of what could happen – not what will happen. The purpose of these stories is to stimulate debate, help us let go of conventional thinking, and to challenge, rather than reinforce, our views about how the future might unfold.
- Described their desired future: armed with a shared understanding of the full spectrum of possibilities, and after wide ranging debate, the Team described their desired future for their region.
- Drafted outcome statements: Outcome statements form the foundation of the cumulative effects management system. They reflect what people living and working in the region want to achieve, based on their values and vision for the future. They also describe how governments, communities, and stakeholders should work together to guide growth and development, how progress should be measured and monitored, risk assessed and thresholds set. These statements not only describe the desired future, but how it will be achieved.