Desired Future

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Having considered the full spectrum of possibilities proposed by the four scenarios of possible futures, and after wide ranging debate, the Community Outcomes Team developed a fifth scenario describing their desired future for their region. It is this scenario that should be modeled and compared to the current situation in the study area.

Table of Contents

  1. Energy Future
  2. Economic Sustainability
  3. Nature of Community
  4. Water and Environmental Sustainability
  5. Governance and Accountability

1. Energy Future

Summary: Energy production will shift over time from non-renewable to renewable sources. Expect the price of energy to rise. Coal resources in the area will likely be developed as technology and markets enable it. Production of energy from natural resources, however, will be limited to the carrying capacity of the environment and communities, and driven by locally-available renewable sources. More jobs will become available in the renewable sector. The newest technology will keep the footprint small. Energy efficiency and conservation will be important. Manufacturing of renewable energy will be more for local use, rather than for export. There is potential to generate and distribute the energy at smaller scales - municipalities, neighbourhoods and farms. Power generation can come from agricultural or municipal waste sources. Co-generation will become important, as waste material from one industry is used to generate energy for another.

Global outlook

  • Will there still be a market for our oil?
  • With the development of green technology, the playing field will level out between “have” and “have not” countries

In Alberta

  • Decreasing production of non-renewable energy and increase of renewable. A balance must be kept: as the one decreases, the other must be available, so we still have energy that is both available and affordable.
  • R&D will be global and we’ll be tapping into that
  • Assume coal resources in our area will be developed as technology and markets enable it
  • Production of natural resources limited to carrying capacity and what’s available to use. E.g.: if area doesn’t have wind, can’t produce energy from wind
  • Offsets –recognize impacts of energy production on environment and have offsets –raises questions regarding what will be measured
  • Expect price to rise.
  • There will be a shift but not a radical change – type of job will also change – more jobs in renewable sector
  • Alberta will need to diversify energy sources to meet energy needs through many ways
  • This shift needs to be supported at top Government levels
  • Expect to be increasingly reliant on external sources of energy. May not be self sufficient in all our needs – may still import energy such as diesel fuel

Our energy future

  • We will continue to produce oil and gas but in a more responsible and sustainable way
  • We will use the newest technology to keep footprint small
  • Energy conservation will be important
  • Increasing efficiency of energy use will be important

Energy production

  • Manufacturing of renewable energy will be more for local use, rather than for export- we export oil – most countries will produce energy based on wind, solar- each country can produce its own – we may not need to export as much
  • potential to generate and distribute the energy (wind as example) at smaller scales - municipalities, neighbourhoods and farms
  • Power generation from agricultural or municipal waste sources
  • Small systems may be created that produce green energy or are off grid. May be able to sell excess to large industry
  • Co-generation of energy – use waste material from one source to facilitate energy production elsewhere (biomass). E.g. In Grande Prairie, using waste heat from pulp mills to heat buildings

2. Economic Sustainability

Summary: Importance of sustainable environment and communities leads to a recognition that limits may need to place on economic growth. Modest, even capped growth, is acceptable. Economic growth at all costs is not acceptable. Alternative energy is viewed as a means to sustain and create business opportunities. Agriculture is the backbone of the economy, with both big and small farms coexisting in the area, and value-added processing of agricultural products supporting the region. Economic diversification through the expansion of small businesses (20 employees or less) is desirable, with a focus on small manufacturing (cottage industry), services and IT. Green jobs provide environmental services. Regional centers of excellence for health and education are developed in the region (such as the new Centre for Sustainable Communities at Augustana College). More intensive land use planning and regulation will be needed to govern coexistence of small businesses with large farms

Growth

  • Modest or capped growth business
  • No longer want economic growth at all costs
  • Self sufficiency: Communities increasingly able to provide for themselves
  • Alternate energy sustains business and creates jobs
  • Become regional center in a specialized area
  • Local economy produces and replaces products bought in China

Agriculture

  • Large and small farms
  • Large farms – big, locally owned and getting bigger
  • Value added food production
  • Agri businesses have good growth potential

Business

  • Variety of business types and scales resulting in less vulnerability to economic ups and downs
  • Serve local, provincial and international markets
  • Built on regional strengths and advantages
  • Built on basis of small businesses not large ones
  • Branding: East Central stands for certain products
  • Cottage industries - Locally owned; Home based businesses
  • Many small businesses – smaller than 20 employees
  • New green jobs providing environmental services may be created
  • Manufacturing without large water volume requirements
  • Shared development with Sherritt for coal mine – man-made lake for recreation
  • All essential retail goods and services are locally available
  • Local manufacture replaces goods imported from China

Employment

  • Jobs available locally
  • Low unemployment
  • Full employment for a range of backgrounds (jobs for employees with diverse backgrounds)
  • Stable workforce; less vulnerability to

Transportation/Communications/IT

  • Infrastructure to support local economies
  • Increased public transportation

3. Nature of Community

Summary: The population in East Central Alberta is growing. There is more cultural diversity. Services are available within the region to support the growing population. There is more regionally planning, partnerships and cooperation managing and supporting the growth. Agricultural land is protected. Locally-made products are more available and people living in the region “shop local”. There is community pride, reflected in the investment of both money and time (volunteerism). Community pride also supports stewardship. The environment is valued and protected, which attracts people to live in the region. Economics is not the foundation – it’s a social foundation.

Population

  • Repopulation of rural areas resulting in ability to provide better local service
  • Diverse populations
  • Population distributed across a wide spread of age and ethnic groups

Community spirit

  • Revitalized sense of community spirit; vibrant
  • Increased community participation and attendance at community events
  • More accepting of new development in the area
  • Volunteering; People have time; businesses provide employees with time to volunteer
  • Exceptional quality of life
  • A safe place to live; involvement in crime watch; safe communities attract business
  • Sense of belonging
  • Stronger sense of place supports stewardship
  • Less conflict management and more facilitation
  • Endowments from individuals and business build community

Shop local

  • Local farmers markets more popular and more viable; more local produce/goods available
  • Living, working and shopping in the community
  • Family businesses (not just resource-based industry that attract young people and their problems)
  • People who live and work there can buy everything locally (within the region)

Housing

  • Clustered accommodations
  • Affordable housing for incoming employers and employees
  • Housing is available to match demand and affordable housing
  • Fixed and low income people financially comfortable

Services

  • Demand for services increases
  • Services in area regionalize to improve quality and become more efficient
  • Community services are well funded and available especially through networks
  • Provision of health services – needed as aging population grows
  • Opportunities for local education
  • Levels of education increase
  • Subsidy available to low income families to participate in sports and community events

4. Water and Environmental Sustainability

Summary: The environment underpins our quality of life. We see/feel the environment is “right”: there are trees, biodiversity, wetlands and green spaces. Natural habitat and agricultural lands are both preserved. There is sustainable agriculture and sustainable use of resources. Technology is used to improves/cleans up the environment. Standards are set and enforced. Public awareness leads to awareness of the importance of the environment.

Green Space

  • Trees, natural areas
  • Green space in urban and rural setting
  • City and towns have green spaces
  • Less green grass
  • Grow up, not wide – 5 story buildings
  • Proactive conversion back to natural ecosystems
  • Local naturalized areas – having Jasper experience without going to Jasper
  • Return of marginal lands to natural habitat
  • Preserve natural capital
  • Small farms, more organic, leading to increased preservation of agricultural land

Wetlands – quality and quantity

  • Water in sufficient quality and quality for ecosystem

Increased biodiversity

  • Wildlife is sustainable—and capable of bouncing back from disasters or development
  • Wildlife preservation

Water

  • More water
  • Increased water quality
  • Clean water
  • Clean and treatable
  • Minimize effluent put into water
  • Water available for users
  • Water greatest good for the greatest number
  • Technology can improve/clean up the environment

Air

  • Quality of air not to impair our health and the ecosystems
  • Clean air
  • Blue sky – no smog
  • Technology can improve/clean up the environment
  • Dark skies at night – protect stars by making light only go down

Efficient/sustainable use of resources

  • Sustainable agriculture
  • Awareness that environment is important
  • Society more environmentally conscious/aware

5. Governance and Accountability

Summary: Local autonomy is needed to ensure local needs are met. While there is no need for regional government, there is a need for regional cooperation, which should be achieved through partnerships and collaborative networks. More citizens need to be engaged in decisions that impact their communities. Governance processes must be transparent. Equity and funding issues need to be addressed.

Local autonomy

  • Need local autonomy to ensure local needs are met
  • Power stays with local bodies
  • There may be fewer municipalities – they may join together

Community Engagement

  • The theme for governance is more people need to be engaged in public decisions; only 10% involvement now
  • This kind of exercise (ECACEP) is important
  • People will engage if they think they will have a say/input into the decisions and there is followed through
  • Engagement depends on satisfaction with the process
  • There will be greater accountability to the community due to increased participation

Regionalization through cooperation

  • Regional cooperation through partnerships and working together, but municipalities retain their autonomy
  • Regional collaboration must be purposeful; focused on what is needed to make towns financially viable
  • Regional cooperation around issues, but only local and provincial government, not regional government
  • Local autonomy with a regional perspective; the intent is to deal with regional issues collaboratively
  • Regional partnerships for roads, water, sewage, recreation facilities
  • Regional outlook is needed for decisions such as sport facilities, hospitals
  • We need cooperation to ensure good service
  • Collaborative networks that includes additional groups such as watershed
  • Our map looks like the tables in this room – collaboration by working together around specific issues

Process

  • Bring transparency to the process
  • Less conflict management and more facilitation
  • Equity and Funding issues
  • Levels of service within a municipality – can everyone in the municipality get the same level of service?
  • Are there enough funds to be equitable?
  • The equity issue of voting rights and their allocation impacts the discussion about regional governance
  • Who is in an advisory role and who has decision making authority?
  • Do population numbers determine representation?
  • How is decision making allocated in a regional governance model?