Topic Area Briefs

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About Topic Area Briefs

Two weeks before the first workshop, members of the Community Outcomes Team received information about key subjects of interest concerning the study area.

As members of the Community Outcomes Team come from a variety of backgrounds and experience, a package of information was prepared about key subjects of interest in the study area. Called Topic Areas Briefs, each brief is 2-3 pages long and contains a snapshot of the subject, its history, current situation and major trends that may impact future growth and development in the region. Their purpose is to introduce the array of complex dynamics that are constantly interacting within our society, economy and environment and to stimulate our thinking about their possible implications.

The information contained in the Topic Area Briefs does not represent the views of the Government of Alberta or any of its ministries. Information has been collected from many different sources, and is presented for information only, as background to the scenario planning workshops conducted by the East Central Alberta Cumulative Effects Project - June 2008.


Topic Area Briefs for Workshop #1


Table of Contents

1. Social-Institutional Dimension
1.1 Quality of Life
1.2 Governance in Alberta
1.3 Human Resources and Social Development
1.4 Rural Development
1.5 Population Change and Social Capital in Rural Regions
1.6 Community Vulnerability and Adaptive Capacity
1.7 Public and Community Health
1.8 Culture and Cultural Heritage

2. Economic Dimension
2.1. The Economy of Alberta
2.2 East Central Alberta - Socioeconomic Profile
2.3 Agriculture
2.4 Coal Development
2.5 Oil and Natural Gas Development
2.6 Sand and Gravel in Alberta
2.7 Transportation

3. Environmental Dimension
3.1 Water
3.1.1 Water Security and Water Allocation
3.1.2 Surface Water Quantity
3.1.3 Surface Water Quality
3.1.4 Water Management Infrastructure in East Central Alberta
3.1.5 Groundwater
3.1.6 Watersheds
3.2. Land Use
3.3. Biodiversity
3.4. Air Quality
3.5. Natural Capital and Ecological Goods and Services
3.6. Wetlands
 

1. Social-Institutional Dimension
1.1. Quality of Life

Overview

* In general terms, quality of life (QOL) is seen as the product of the interaction of a number of different factors - social, health, economic, and environmental conditions - which cumulatively, and often in unknown ways, interact to affect both human and social development at the level of individuals and societies.

* In Canada, the concept of QOL does not appear to be equated with “standard of living”. Standard of living is a measure of the quantity and quality of goods and services available to people. QOL, on the other hand, represents the explicit linkage of economic and social policies and objectives.

* In this context, QOL might represent the longstanding and ongoing balancing of economic and social objectives which differentiates Canada from many other countries, in particular the United States (e.g., emphasis on social programs such as health care).

Measuring QOL

* QOL indicators try to encompass the social, environmental and economic dimensions of the quality of life for individuals and communities.

* At an individual level, the United Nations has been publishing the annual Human Development Index (HDI) for countries around the world. It examines the health, education and wealth of each nation’s citizens by measuring life expectancy, educational achievement, and standard of living.

* The City of Vancouver measures QOL using the following indicators (measures): Community Affordability, Quality of Employment, Quality of Housing, Health Community , Community, Social Infrastructure, Human Capital, Community Stress, Community Safety, Community Participation.

* The Canadian Index of Wellbeing, currently being developed with the support of the Atkinson Charitable Foundation, will track changes in eight quality-of-life categories or “domains”: (1) living standards; (2) healthy populations; (3) community vitality; (4) time use; (5) educated populace; (6) ecosystem health; (7) arts and culture; and, (8) civic engagement.

QOL in Alberta

* As required under Section 10 of the Government Accountability Act, every year the Alberta government publishes the Measuring Up report. This report, compiled by the Performance Measurement Unit of Alberta Finance, tracks the government’s progress towards achieving a set of defined goals. Measuring Up reports on the 14 goals and 65 measures established in the 2006-09 Government of Alberta Strategic Business Plan. It reports on the Alberta government’s performance with respect to its programs and services as well as its performance of government-owned and supported infrastructure.

* Mark Anielski, an Alberta economist based in Edmonton, developed an alternative economic model called “Genuine Wealth” to measure the real determinants of well-being and help redefine progress. According to this model, Genuine Wealth is based in the five capitals: human, social, natural, built and financial.

* In 2000, a team of economists at the Pembina Institute led by Mark Anielski completed the first Alberta Genuine Progress Indicator project. Alberta’s Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) is composed of 51 environmental, social and economic indicators and was developed to respond to the shortcomings of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as a measure of total wellbeing.

Economic Societal Environmental
  • Economic growth
  • Economic diversity
  • Trade
  • Disposable income
  • Weekly wage rate
  • Personal expenditures
  • Transportation expenditures
  • Taxes
  • Savings
  • Household debt
  • Public Infrastructure
  • Household infrastructure
  • Poverty
  • Income distribution
  • Unemployment
  • Underemployment
  • Paid work
  • Household work
  • Parenting and eldercare
  • Free time
  • Volunteerism
  • Commuting
  • Life expectancy
  • Premature mortality
  • Infant mortality
  • Obesity
  • Suicide
  • Drug use
  • Auto crashes
  • Divorce
  • Crime
  • Problem gambling
  • Voter participation
  • Educational attainment
  • Oil and gas reserve life
  • Oilsands reserve life
  • Energy use
  • Agriculture sustainability
  • Timber sustainability
  • Forest fragmentation
  • Fish and wildlife
  • Parks and wilderness
  • Wetlands
  • Peatlands
  • Water quality
  • Air quality-related emissions
  • Greenhouse gas emissions
  • Carbon budget deficit
  • Hazardous waste
  • Landfill waste
  • Ecological footprint

 Prepared by
Alberta Environment

Sources

1. Alberta Treasury Board. 2007. Annual Reports and Measuring Up. link
2. Anielski, M. 2007. The Economics of Happiness: Building Genuine Wealth. link
3. Canada. Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat. Quality of Life - A Concept Paper: Defining, Measuring and Reporting Quality of Life for Canadians. (2000). The Global Development Research Center. Notes on Quality of Life. link
4. Taylor, A. 2006. Sustainability Indicator Frameworks in Alberta: Setting the Context and Identifying Opportunities. Pembina Institute.

1.2 Governance in Alberta

Introduction

Governance can be described as the process of decision making and the process by which decisions are implemented. 1 Good governance can be characterized, at a minimum, by: (a) accountability, (b) transparency, (c) effectiveness and efficiency, (d) adherence to the rule of law, and (e) clearly defined roles and responsibilities.

Key Alberta governance institutions include: the three levels of government (local, provincial and national), government agencies, non-governmental organizations and a number of other organizations. (Also, see Aboriginal Relations brief.)

Federal and Provincial Government

In Canada’s federal system of government, sovereign authority is constitutionally divided between the national and provincial levels of government, with neither level subordinate to the other. Matters of national interest are granted to the federal government (e.g. national defence) while matters of a more specific local or regional nature are granted to the provinces (e.g. education; natural resources).

At the federal level, Members of Parliament (MPs) are elected democratically by a simple majority of voters in each geographic riding. MPs are typically members of political parties, and the party with the greatest number of elected members forms the government. The governing party’s power resides in the executive, made up of the Prime Minster and Cabinet Ministers. In our system of responsible government, the executive is accountable to the House of Commons and ultimately to the electorate.

The provincial parliamentary system is similar to the federal level, having Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) rather than MPs and a Premier rather than Prime Minister.

Government of Alberta Public Agencies, Boards, and Commissions

In addition to the work carried out through government departments (e.g. the Department of Health and Wellness, and the Department of Energy), the Government of Alberta also has about 250 distinct agencies, to which it allocates close to half of its annual operating expenditures.

Provincial agencies include boards, commissions, tribunals or other organizations which: (a) are established by government but not part of a government department; (b) have been given responsibility to perform a public function; (c) are accountable to government; (d) have some degree of autonomy from government; and (e) for which the government holds the primary power of appointment.

Government Ministers are ultimately responsible to the public for how the work is conducted in agencies. Examples of provincial agencies include: regulatory/adjudicative; public trust; corporate enterprise; service delivery; and advisory. 2 Specific governance structures will vary significantly depending on the role of a particular agency.

Local Government / Municipal Government

Local government is a broad term that includes municipalities and a variety of local special purpose bodies often referred to as agencies, boards, and commissions.

A municipality is a corporation created by the province, allowing residents of a specific geographic area to provide services that are of common interest. It is also a democratic institution, governed by an elected council. The chief distinguishing features of a municipality are: its corporate nature; defined geographic boundaries; an elected council; and taxing power. There are over 4,600 municipalities in Canada, 350 of which are in Alberta.

The specific classifications of municipal government vary by province and include cities, towns, villages, rural municipalities, counties, and regional and metropolitan municipalities. In Alberta, there are also summer villages, municipal districts, specialized municipalities, special areas and improvement districts. Local governments provide a wide range of services, programs, facilities, and regulations that largely shape our day-to-day lives. In Canada, local governments generally exercise responsibilities ranging from policing, fire protection, and animal control to owning/operating museums, concert halls and art galleries.

In addition to municipalities, there are about 8,000 special purpose bodies across Canada at the local level. Common examples include police commissions, regional health authorities, conservation authorities, park boards, and school boards. A number of the larger bodies operating at the regional level are less part of local government than they are a form of decentralized provincial administration.

There are also a number of new bodies that have been created to facilitate partnership arrangements among local governing bodies (example: regional services commission) or to preside over entrepreneurial operations such as convention centres or arenas. 3

Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs)

A number of NGOs and other organizations also play an important role. Similar to agencies, they have governance structures that vary based on their individual roles and responsibilities. Some of the categories of organizations are:

1. NGOs: organizations created by non-government actors with no participation or representation from government (e.g. the Pembina Institute). These organizations are typically non-profit and have specific aims such as funding for a charity or environmental objectives.
2. Stakeholder organizations: composed of government, industry and NGOs (e.g. the Cumulative Environmental Management Association and the Clean Air Strategic Alliance). These organizations often employ consensus-based decision making and shared-governance models.
3. Industry Associations: support the interests of their membership and can provide a common voice for industry positions (e.g. Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers).
4. Corporations: for-profit organizations that typically have distinct corporate governance structures where a board of directors is accountable to its shareholders. Corporations may either be privately held or publicly traded.

Changing Concepts of Governance

Finally, in considering governance in Alberta it is important to note that it is not a static concept. Over time there has been a significant change in the concepts of governance, most notably towards models of shared-governance and consensus-based decision making. Both of these are fundamentally different from more traditional hierarchical and centralized decision making.

Prepared by
Executive Council and Alberta Municipal Affairs

Sources

1. This definition is used by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific. Website: http://www.unescap.org/pdd/prs/ProjectActivities/Ongoing/gg/governance.asp. Accessed: June 2008.
2. The preceding information on agencies in Alberta was taken from the Government of Alberta Agency Governance Secretariat’s February 2008 report Public Agencies Governance Framework which can be found at: http://www.alberta.ca/home/documents/Governance_Framework_web_version.pdf.
3. C. Richard Tindal and Susan Nobes Tindal, “Local Government in Canada” (Sixth Edition), Thomson/Nelson, 2004.

1.3 Human Resources and Social Development

Strong Economy and Labour Shortages

* There are skills and labour shortages in some regions of the country - shortages that will only intensify as our population ages and baby boomers begin to retire in large numbers.
* Aboriginal Canadians, older workers and persons with disabilities are three groups facing unique challenges to participating in the workforce.
* Globalization and the growth of the knowledge-based economy are sharply increasing the importance of the skills, education and adaptability of our workforce for global competitiveness, reinforcing the importance of lifelong learning. This means that we need to focus on enhancing the education and skills of Canadians.

Changing Demographics

* Societal and demographic changes are reshaping the face of Canada. In 2003, 4.1 million Canadians were 65 years of age and older. Their numbers are expected to reach 6.4 million in 2020 - nearly one in five Canadians.
* The median age of the labour force was 39 in 2001, up from 37 in 1991.
* The immigrants who landed in Canada during the 1990s and who were in the labour force in 2001 represented almost 70% of the total growth of the labour force over the decade.
* With the baby boomers aging and fewer young people entering the working age population, the potential exists for shortages in certain occupations, while putting pressures on the public pension system.

Maintaining Global Competitiveness by Enhancing Opportunities to Acquire Knowledge and Skills

* In order to remain globally competitive, Canadians must adapt to changing technologies and rising skills and knowledge requirements. Training and skills development are critical in order for Canadian businesses to compete successfully on the world stage. Canada’s employers are not keeping pace with major competitors in the amount of training they provide to their workers.
* It will be important to create conditions for employers to invest in training, such as through lower taxes and collaborative approaches to addressing pan-Canadian issues.

Urban - Rural Disparities

* Concentrated growth in Canada’s major urban centres is creating pressures and difficulties in the areas of occupation specific employment shortages, housing, education, social services and transportation.
* Within many rural and remote communities, the situation can be very different. Many rural communities are experiencing diminishing economic opportunities resulting in declining populations, which are more reliant on government support.
* The labour force and post-secondary education participation rates of rural youth tend to be lower than in urban areas and wages for those with employment are relatively lower as well.

Economic Participation and Social Inclusion of New Immigrants

* Immigrants to Canada are now coming from countries that were not a source of immigrants in past years. Too many immigrants face challenges in adapting to the Canadian setting, and many immigrants have difficulties integrating into the Canadian workforce. Their employment rates have fallen below those of other Canadians, and their relative earnings, particularly for the university educated, are lower.
* Credential recognition is an important component to immigrants’ ability to find rewarding work and to integrate into Canadian society.
* A lack of adequate literacy skills in Canada’s official languages also represents a significant challenge for many immigrants entering the Canadian labour market.

Socio-economic Pressures on Families

* Canadian families are changing. The number of women participating in the labour force is increasing. In 2005, slightly more than 60% of women age 15 and over participated in the labour force compared to about 50% in 1980.
* Families are now smaller in size, and delaying child bearing is a trend among young urban couples. With the rise in dual-earner and single-parent families, many families experience challenges in balancing their work and home life.
* Families need the flexibility to choose child care services that meet their needs. In particular, workplaces can play a central role in accommodating more flexible arrangements for parents.
* In the face of an aging society, increasing pressure will be placed on families to meet their caregiving responsibilities. In this context, attention will need to be given to supporting Canadians who are engaged in these activities to ensure that they can adequately balance these responsibilities while maintaining their capacity to fully participate in the economic and social fabric of Canadian society.

Volunteerism

* Volunteering rates have been relatively constant over the last 20 years, but the number of hours being offered is dropping among the greatest majority of those who volunteer, and early signs suggest volunteering rates may be moving into decline at a rate of up to 1-2% per year.
* At present, 67% of all volunteering is done by only 5% of Canadian adults. A huge amount of work rests on the shoulders of a very few. Those very few are typically aged and nearing the end of active volunteer involvement. It is a precarious and fragile workforce.
* Many nonprofit organizations will lose their leaders and sustainers in the next few years.

Challenges Facing Canada’s Aboriginal Population

* Aboriginal people often face multiple barriers to their successful labour market participation - including low literacy and essential skills and access to training or education required by employers.
* The Aboriginal population is also young and growing at a much faster rate than the general Canadian population (a 22% increase between 1996 and 2001), particularly in the North and West, with a large majority (62%) living in Western Canada. The population growth is most rapid among the age group seeking work skills, post secondary education and first jobs. It is estimated that about half of all Aboriginal people are under the age of 25 and that over the next twenty years about 400,000 Aboriginal people will be ready to enter the workforce.

Challenges Facing People with Disabilities

* In Canada there are 3.6 million Canadians or 12.4% of the population that have a disability. This includes 180,930 children (5%), 1.5 million seniors (40%) and 1.9 million working-age adults (55%). These numbers are expected to increase as the population ages.
* Canada is not fully benefiting from the employment potential, skills and talents of people with disabilities. Another concern is that many people with disabilities live in poverty (23 % of people aged 16 - 64 with disabilities lived in low income, compared to 14% of people without disabilities in 2001).
* While the full costs of disability to society are not known, the annual costs to the federal government of income support programs and provision of goods and services to the disabled are more than $6 billion. That does not include the costs of provincial programs and private sector insurance plans, or the lost income and foregone taxes.

Income Trends among Canadians

* From 1996 to 2004, the number of Canadians who had low income decreased from 15.7% to 11.2%. However, 6% of Canadians own 97% of the family wealth in this country, which translates into 21% of jobs in Canada being low-paying (compared to 8-12% in the European Union).
* Some Canadians and their dependents continue to face a particularly higher risk of experiencing low income due to the lack of access to adequate jobs, their family situation and other personal limitations. One in every five off-reserve Aboriginal people and recent immigrants experienced low income in 2004. Significant progress has been made in reducing child poverty in recent years, from a peak of 18.6% in 1996 to 12.1% in 2001. Challenges remain, however, as low-income rates for children have slightly increased in 2004.
* While work continues to be one of the most significant factors in alleviating the risk of low income, it is often not a sufficient condition. In 2001, over 650,000 working-age Canadians were able to work the equivalent of full-time for only about half of the year and therefore lived in low-income. In total, 1.5 million Canadians lived in these ‘working poor’ families.
* Low-income rates among seniors fell dramatically between 1980 and 2004. There remain, however, groups within this population, such as those living alone (mostly women) and recent immigrants, who remain at significantly greater risk of low-income. In addition, there are emerging concerns within the private pillar of Canada’s retirement income system, in particular the decline in workplace pension coverage.

Homelessness

* More than 150,000 Canadians are estimated to use homeless shelters every year. Countless others are on the streets or are the “hidden homeless” - away from the public eye and outside of the shelter system. As well, over half a million Canadians spend more than 50% of their income on housing (a household which spends 30% or more of its before-tax income on shelter would fall below the affordability standard), putting them at a higher risk of becoming homeless.

Prepared by
Alberta Municipal Affairs

Sources

1. 2007-08 Human Resources and Social Development Canada website: http://www.tbssct.gc.ca/rpp/0708/HRSDC-RHDSC/hrsdc-rhdsc-PR_e.asp?printable=True.
2. Volunteerism information from http://www.canadawhocares.ca.
3. Information on family income and low-paying jobs from Mel Hurtig interview in SEE Magazine, May 22-28, 2008.

1.4 Rural Development

History

Traditional family farms used to be the economic and social foundation of rural life and communities. It used to be that public policy that supported agriculture development also supported rural development.

Current Situation

Rural policy and agriculture policy are no longer the same as the traditional family farm is no longer the economic and social foundation of rural life and communities. Pursuing an agriculture development policy as a rural development policy is largely ineffective. Evidence suggests that approximately one third of the impact of agriculture policy is lost to predominately urban areas (e.g. purchasing of machinery and inputs that are consolidated in major urban centres), and the benefits go to only 7% of rural people (self-employed and paid farm workers). Current agriculture policies focused on global cost competitiveness and productivity further reduce the number of jobs in rural areas by encouraging the substitution of capital for labour.

Major Trends

Target Sector:

In the old approach to rural development the key target sector was agriculture. The new approach is based on developing various sectors of rural economies such as: rural tourism (e.g. waterfowl on Beaverhill Lake), manufacturing (e.g. oil sands equipment being fabricated outside Tofield), information and communications technology (e.g. the Supernet); and services (e.g. Camrose as a retirement community).

Public Policy Tools:

In the old approach to rural development the main tools were agriculture subsidies or farm income support (e.g. the recently announced $150 million in immediate funding for livestock producers). In the new approach the main tool is investments (e.g. community capacity building projects supported by Rural Alberta’s Development Fund).

Population:

Population changes reflect the changing rural landscape and show that the largest changes are occurring in rural areas:

* near Alberta’s major metropolitan centres
o Rural and Small Town (RST) population grew by 3.8%, or 25,677. However, the population of Census Metropolitan Areas and Census Agglomerations increased by almost 14%, which is three and a half times greater than RST

* strategically located to service the booming economy
o Census Division 16’s (Wood Buffalo) population grew 23.5% between 2001-06
o Census Division 19’s (Grande Prairie) population grew 14.4% between 2001-06

* dependant on a single resource base that is under economic pressure (agriculture, forestry, some types of mining and where conventional oil and gas production is declining)
o The village of Cereal’s population declined 32.6% between 2001-06
o The Town of Falher’s population declined 15.1% between 2001-06

Change Factors

The threat to rapidly growing communities is ability to manage growth in a way that is sustainable and will provide a high quality of life for all. For communities whose primary industry is in decline the threat is to remain viable and maintain an acceptable quality of life.

Alberta’s rural communities are demanding that governments help them respond to the driving forces of change and help them to help themselves maintain their high quality of life. As well, the driving forces necessitate that action must be collaborative, not competitive, with cooperation among rural regions and communities, across and among all levels of government, and between urban and rural communities.

Current Situation                                                  Desired Future

             

Rural Communities
 

From: Struggling to manage

To: Adaptive and diverse

change and adapt

Government

             

From: Individual ministry

To: Integrated and collaborative
responses to single issues

responses that support the natural

advantages of rural areas

Critical elements of Rural Development:

1. A Strong Voice - rural Albertans are engaged and collaborate on the development of provincial public policy that impacts them.

2. Cross-government collaboration - rural issues cut across governments and require a collaborative approach (e.g. health, education, infrastructure, agriculture, energy, forestry, municipal affairs, different levels of government etc.)

3. Rural Alberta’s Development Fund (RADF) - a $100 million fund to support innovative rural development projects.

Strategic levers and drivers of Rural Development:

1. Rural community capacity building - increasing the ability of community leaders and organizations to achieve their desired future.

2. Rural economic opportunities - build on traditional economic strengths while also increasing economic diversification, and regional cooperation and clusters.

3. Rural innovation - new tools, products, processes, and approaches.

4. Rural community adaptation and transition - increased resilience to respond to economic, environmental, and social challenges.

5. Rural partnerships - governments, industry, community groups, and individuals working together.

6. Rural stewardship - open spaces, scenic landscapes, water and air quality, wildlife and habitat, soil, nature related recreation and tourism (ecological goods and services).

Prepared by
Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development

1.5 Population Change and Social Capital in Rural Regions

Introduction

Social capital is the wealth that lies in a society’s social networks. Social capital refers to the social relationships, networks and norms that bind communities together.

By bringing people together in formal and informal networks, social capital encourages and strengthens involvement in society, provides an avenue through which community decisions are made and influenced, and empowers people to feel connected and to make positive contributions to a healthy society.

The population of a community (or region) is the source from which a community can draw on to build its social capital.

In the Past

  • Rural regions historically made up a larger proportion of Canada’s population.
  • There was a distinct separation between rural and non-rural way of life.
  • The connections to urban regions were not extensive, as social and economic infrastructure required to sustain rural communities existed within the rural regions.
  • There was a stronger “sense of community” built around the strength of social relationships and norms.

Today

  • About a third of Alberta’s population lives in predominantly rural regions and this share is declining.
  • The distinct separation between rural and non-rural regions is being blurred with more people living in rural areas near urban centres, and with an increase in acreages (country residential).
  • Social and economic infrastructure is increasingly tied to urban regions. For example, rural commuters who live in a rural region but work in an urban region.
  • The strength of the network of social relationships and norms are diminishing.

Forces contributing to Population Decline in Rural Areas

There are several factors contributing to the change in population and social capital:

  • Birth and death rates: Rural populations can have more deaths than births, contributing to overall population decrease.
  • Net migration (difference between people moving in and out of an area): Movement of people, typically between ages 15 and 29 years, to urban centres to find jobs, to study, or to be part of “city life”.
  • Technology: The use of labour saving technology in the agriculture sector has meant declining employment opportunities, further contributing to out migration.

Consequences of Population Decline

  • Declining levels of access to health and social services, as these services become more centralized. For example, busing school children over longer distances; the need to go to urban areas for medical care
  • Loss of rural characteristics as community connections are not renewed with the next generation.
  • Decreased capacity to participate in, and influence, decision making.

Adjustment Strategies

  • A variety of strategies, including diversification (such as higher value crops) and off-farm work are often used to address population change.
  • These strategies can help increase the money circulating within rural regions but may not necessarily increase rural populations and restore social capital.

Prepared by
Alberta Environment

Sources

  1. Beshiri, R. and R. D. Bollman. 2001. Population structure and change in predominantly rural regions. Rural and Small Town Canada Analysis. Bulletin, vol. 2, no. 2. Statistics Canada
  2. Rothwell, N., R. D. Bollman, J. Tremblay and J. Marshall. 2002. Migration to and from rural and small town Canada. Rural and Small Town Canada Analysis. Bulletin, vol. 3, no.6. Statistics Canada

1.6 Community Vulnerability and Adaptive Capacity

Overview

  • Adaptive capacity is the ability of a community to make adjustments in order to decrease its vulnerabilities, moderate damages, take advantage of opportunities, and cope with changes (e.g., drought, abrupt fluctuations of world oil prices)
  • In this context, it is understood that the capacity of a household to cope with climate and other risks depends to some degree on the enabling environment provided by the community.
  • On the other hand, the adaptive capacity of the community is reflective of the resources and processes of the region in which the community is located (e.g., rural vs. urban, developed economies vs. developing economies).

Key determinants of adaptive capacity

Determinant Explanation
Economic resources

  • Greater economic resources increase adaptive capacity.
  • Lack of financial resources limits adaptation options.
Technology
  • Lack of technology limits range of potential adaptation options.
  • Less technologically advanced regions are less likely to develop and/or implement technological adaptations.
Information and skills
  • Lack of informed, skilled and trained personnel reduces adaptive capacity.
  • Greater access to information increases likelihood of timely and appropriate adaptation.
Infrastructure
  • Greater variety of infrastructure can enhance adaptive capacity, since it provides more options.
  • Characteristics and location of infrastructure also affect adaptive capacity.
Institutions
  • Well-developed social institutions help to reduce impacts of climate-related risks, and therefore increase adaptive capacity.
Equity
  • Equitable distribution of resources increases adaptive capacity.
  • Both availability of, and access to, resources is important.

Adaptive capacity across urban and rural Canada

* Both urban and rural centres in Canada have characteristics that enhance or limit adaptive capacity.
* Urban centres tend to be places of greater wealth, higher education and skill sets, with easier access to technology and institutions.
* However, urban centres also tend to have greater reliance on critical energy, transportation and water infrastructure, more severe heat stress and air quality problems, and larger numbers of poor and elderly residents that result in vulnerabilities not shared by most rural communities.
 

Urban Centres Rural Communities
Strengths
  • Greater access to financial resources
  • Diversified economies
  • Greater access to services (e.g. health care, social services, education)
  • Higher education levels
  • Well-developed emergency response capacity
Highly developed institutions
Strong social capital

• Strong social networks

• Strong attachments to community

• Strong traditional and local knowledge

• High rates of volunteerism

Limitations
  • Higher costs of living
  • More air quality and heat stress issues
  • Lack of knowledge of climate change impacts and adaptation issues
  • High dependence on potentially vulnerable electricity grid
  • Aging infrastructure
  • Issues of overlapping jurisdictions can hinder decision-making ability
  • Limited economic resources
  • Less diversified economies
  • Higher reliance on natural resource sectors
  • Isolation from services and limited access
  • Lower proportion of population with technical training

Prepared by
Alberta Environment

Sources

1. F. Berkhout, J. Hertin, D.M. Gann, Learning to Adapt: Organisational Adaptation to Climate Change Impacts, Working Paper 47, Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK, 2004.
2. Natural Resources Canada. 2004. Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation: A Canadian Perspective. http://adaptation.nrcan.gc.ca/perspective_e.asp
3. Natural Resources Canada. 2007. From Impacts to Adaptation: Canada in a Changing Climate 2007. http://www.adaptation.nrcan.gc.ca/assess/2007/index_e.php

1.7 Public and Community Health

What Makes People and Communities Healthy or Unhealthy?

“Why is Jason in the hospital? Because he has a bad infection in his leg.

But why does he have an infection? Because he has a cut on his leg and it got infected.

But why does he have a cut on his leg? Because he was playing in the junk yard next to his apartment building and there was some sharp, jagged steel there that he fell on.

But why was he playing in a junk yard? Because his neighbourhood is kind of run down. A lot of kids play there and there is no one to supervise them.

But why does he live in that neighbourhood? Because his parents can’t afford a nicer place to live.

But why can’t his parents afford a nicer place to live? Because his Dad is unemployed and his Mom is sick.

But why is his Dad unemployed? Because he doesn’t have much education and he can’t find a job.

But why …?”

This deceptively simple story speaks to the complex set of factors or conditions that determine people’s health. It clearly indicates that factors affecting our health fall both inside and outside the health care system. Each factor that influences health is important in its own right. At the same time, the factors are inter-related. The combined influences of these factors together determine health status.

Commonly referred to as the “determinants of health,” these factors currently include:

* Income, Income Distribution and Social Status: Research indicates that income and social status is the single most important determinant of health. Studies show that health status improves at each step up the income and social hierarchy. In addition, societies which are reasonably prosperous and have an equitable distribution of wealth have the healthiest populations, regardless of the amount they spend on health care.

* Social Support Networks: Better health is associated with support from families, friends and communities. Some studies conclude that the health effect of social relationships may be as important as established risk factors such as smoking, obesity, high blood pressure and a sedentary lifestyle.

* Education: Health status improves with level of education and literacy, including self-ratings of positive health or indicators of poor health such as activity limitation or lost work days. Education increases opportunities for income and job security, and provides people with a sense of control over life circumstances - key factors that influence health.

* Employment and Working Conditions: People who have more control over their work circumstances and fewer stress-related demands on the job are healthier. Workplace hazards and injuries are significant causes of health problems. Moreover, unemployment is associated with poorer health.

* Social Environments: Social stability, recognition of diversity, safety, good human relationships and community cohesiveness provide a supportive social environment which mitigates risks to optimal health. Social environments that enable and support healthy choices and lifestyles, as well as people’s knowledge, intentions, behaviours and coping skills for dealing with life in healthy ways, are key influences on health.

* Physical Environment: Physical factors in the natural environment such as air, water and soil quality are key influences on health. Factors in the human-built environment such as housing, workplace safety, community and road design are also important.

* A Healthy Start - Early Child Development: The effect of prenatal and early childhood experiences on health in later life, well-being, coping skills and competence is very powerful. For example, a low birth weight links with health and social problems throughout the lifespan.

* Personal Health Practices and Coping Skills: Personal practices such as smoking, use of alcohol and other drugs, healthy eating, physical activity, and the ability to handle outside influences and stresses affect health and well-being. Many of Canada’s most common health problems are linked to these practices.

* Biological and Genetic Endowment: The basic biology and organic make-up of the human body are fundamental determinants of health. Inherited predispositions influence the ways individuals are affected by particular diseases or health challenges.

* Health Services: Health services, especially those designed to maintain and promote health, prevent disease and injury, and restore health, contribute to population health.

* Gender: Gender refers to the many different roles, personality traits, attitudes, behaviours, relative powers and influences which society assigns to males and females.

* Culture and Ethnicity: Language, beliefs, values and personal history can influence people’s behaviours and access to health and other community information and services.

Addressing these determinants of health and recognizing that they are complex and interrelated is one of the key elements of a Population Health Approach - an approach to health which aims to improve the health of an entire population, or sub-population, rather than individuals and to reduce inequalities in health status between population groups.

Population Health in Rural Communities

  • According to a study conducted in 2006, rural residents of Canada are less healthy than their urban counterparts. They have higher overall mortality rates and shorter life expectancies, and are at elevated risk for death from injuries such as motor vehicle accidents and suicide.
  • Those living in the most rural areas were the most disadvantaged for several health indicators, including death from injuries, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
  • Rural residents experienced advantages in a few areas compared to their urban counterparts: they had lower cancer incidence, reported greater sense of community belonging and were less likely to report high levels of stress.

Key Determinants of Population Health in Rural Communities

* Rural residents in Canada are more likely to be in poorer socioeconomic conditions, to have lower educational attainment, to be involved in economic activities with higher health risks (for example, farming, fishing, mining and logging) and to exhibit less desirable health behaviours.
* These factors may be compounded by less access to prevention, early detection, treatment or support services, making good health status even more difficult to achieve in rural or remote areas.

What Are Healthy Communities and How Can We Create Them?

A healthy community is one that consciously seeks to improve the health of its citizens by putting health high on the social and political agendas. Community is defined not merely geographically, but also in terms of groups of people who are drawn together because they share common interests, values or needs and a commitment to meeting them.

Healthy communities are defined by a number of key characteristics, including:

* Safe and clean physical environments that support healthy activity and social interaction;
* Adequate access to basic supports and health and community services including recreation and leisure opportunities;
* Strong, mutually supportive relationships, connections, networks and partnerships;
* Workplaces that are supportive of individual and family well-being;
* Opportunities for learning, skill development, participation in healthy behaviours and civic engagement;
* A diverse, vibrant and sustainable economy;
* The protection and conservation of natural areas and the responsible use of resources to ensure sustainable ecosystems; and
* Wide participation in decision-making for residents.

The aim of building healthy communities is to promote the well-being and health of communities by collaborative action at the local level. Many sectors of the community (e.g., citizen groups, nongovernmental agencies, businesses and local government) are involved. There is no one model or template on how to create a healthy community. However, community engagement, development, empowerment and capacity building are essential elements in the process.

Potential adjustment (self-correction) strategies for rural communities:

* Assisting communities to adjust to and address micro- and macro-level changes such as boom-and-bust economic cycles (which tend to hit rural communities particularly hard) or a community’s dependence on one industry for economic sustainability.
* Addressing occupational health and safety issues in the rural setting, as rural workers may have special needs and may require different solutions.
* Improving rural road conditions and raising road safety awareness.
* Developing “rural-friendly” approaches to disease prevention and health promotion.
* Improving access to early detection programs aimed at secondary prevention of chronic diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes, since these are key to population health.
* Employing a population health approach:

* Learn more and inform others about the determinants of health. In a recent survey, only one third of Canadians reported that they thought key social determinants such as income, housing, education and community safety had a strong or very strong impact on health outcomes.

* Invest upstream: direct efforts and investments at root causes to increase potential benefits for health outcomes - the earlier in the causal stream action is taken, the greater the potential for population health gains. Remember to balance short and long term investments.

* Base decisions on quantitative and qualitative evidence, best or promising practices.

* Apply multiple strategies - use a variety of strategies and settings to act on the health determinants in partnership with sectors outside the traditional health system or sector.

* Collaborate across levels and sectors - improving health is a shared responsibility and

* “Intersectoral collaboration” or joint action among health and other groups to improve health outcomes is needed. These groups may not normally be associated with health, but their activities may have an impact on health or the factors known to influence it.

* Employ mechanisms to engage citizens: provide opportunities for community members to have meaningful input into the development of health priorities, strategies and the review of outcomes. A benefit of public involvement is that public confidence in decision making and information sharing is increased, as people most affected by a health issue contribute to possible solutions early in the planning process.

* Further investigate Healthy Communities/Healthy Cities and explore how your community can participate in the worldwide movement to make their communities healthier, safer and more supportive places to live.

Prepared by
Alberta Health and Wellness

Sources

1. Canadian Institute for Health Information. 2006. How Healthy Are Rural Canadians? An Assessment of Their Health Status and Health Determinants. http://secure.cihi.ca/cihiweb/dispPage.jsp?cw_page=GR_1529_E
2. Health Canada. 2001. The Population Health Template: Key Elements and Actions That Define a Population Health Approach. http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/ph-sp/phdd/pdf/discussion_paper.pdf
3. Ontario Healthy Communities Coalition
4. http://www.healthycommunities.on.ca/about_us/healthy_community.htm, (accessed August 21, 2007)
5. Public Health Agency of Canada. What is the Population Health Approach?
6. http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/ph-sp/approach-approche/index.html (accessed June 18, 2008)
7. Public Health Agency of Canada. What Determines Health
8. http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/ph-sp/determinants/index.html (accessed June 18, 2008)
9. Public Health Agency of Canada. Canada’s Response to WHO Commission on Social Determinants of Health http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/sdh-dss/bg-eng.php?option=email (accessed June 18, 2008)

1.8 Culture and Cultural Heritage

Culture and Cultural Heritage

At the heart of understanding culture is the idea of personal and provincial identity, of community, and of shared heritage. Local culture provides a sense of identity for local communities and residents.

This local commitment among residents, based on culture and common identity, can be seen as a potentially important tool in sustaining local government, development, and social improvement efforts.

During consultations with Albertans on a cultural policy for the province in 2005 and 2007, Albertans expressed their desire for a broad definition of culture that includes not only the arts but also heritage, sport and recreation and the natural environment.

Albertans value the natural heritage and human history of Alberta because it helps us understand and value the past on which our present is built, and give us a deepened awareness of our common roots and shared identity.

Current Situation

* With a growing population there are new demands for cultural opportunities, facilities and services. Research suggests that participating in cultural activities reduces stress, promotes increased health, reduces mortality in populations and strengthens communities. Studies have also found links between the level of participation in arts organizations and increased volunteerism in communities.
* The voluntary sector is central to nurturing the quality of life in our communities. Most organizations (84%) work at the local level, meeting the needs of their neighbourhood, town or city.
* The adverse effects of resource development on historic resources (archaeological and paleontological sites, historic buildings, Aboriginal traditional use sites and unique works of nature) are controlled and/or lessened under the Historical Resources Act.

Trends/Drivers and Major Initiatives

* Alberta communities are searching for ways to re-invest in upgrading and/or replacing their recreation facility infrastructure. There is increased demand for upkeep of facilities for the arts, culture, sport and recreation.
* Increasing construction and infrastructure repair and maintenance costs for community public use, historic sites, museums, interpretive centres and parks are limiting the organizations’ ability to repair or replace aging and deteriorating facilities and address expanding capacity to address
* Alberta’s growing population.
* Rising utility, insurance and ongoing operational and maintenance costs are straining the ability of some non-profit organizations to keep facilities operating, especially in small rural communities.
* Culture and cultural heritage organizations increasingly rely on volunteers. However, the nonprofit/voluntary sector is facing challenges in the areas of paid staff turnover, declining volunteer rates and increasing operational costs. Non-profit/voluntary sector organizations may be limited in their ability to provide services.
* Competition for workers from other higher paying industries may increase because of low unemployment rates. Tourism operators, including culture and cultural heritage organizations, are finding it difficult to hire staff due to labour shortages.
* A strong Canadian dollar makes Canadian destinations a less attractive choice for American and international travelers as Canada/Alberta are now significantly more expensive. The recent spike in gasoline prices is expected to reduce travel in general.
* In January, 2008, Alberta Culture and Community Spirit released The Spirit of Alberta: Alberta’s Cultural Policy which provides a framework for decision-making related to the support, growth and development of culture. One outgrowth of the Cultural Policy is the $100 million Community Spirit Program. It has two components: a new Donation Grant Program and the Enhanced Charitable Tax Credit.

Prepared by
Alberta Culture and Community Spirit

2. Economic Dimension

2.1 The Alberta Economy

History

* Alberta’s economy has evolved through its people and resources, including the historical settlement patterns driven by the fur trade, good agricultural land, transportation and the discovery of petroleum resources.

* Alberta has played a central role in Canada’s petroleum industry - both from the discovery and development of conventional oil and natural gas in the late 19th century, through the development of bitumen deposits in the province’s vast northern oil sands since 1962.

* The province also has a historically significant tourism industry based on the railroad and on the establishment of Banff National Park in 1885.

Today

* Alberta has a diversified economy that includes advanced manufacturing; health and biomedical services; modern business and commercial services; and a modern transportation, educational, recreational and health social services infrastructure.

* The pace of growth in Alberta presents challenges to Alberta’s economic, social and environmental systems, creating stresses on the standard of living and quality of life of Alberta’s citizens.
 

Forces Contributing to Alberta’s Economy and Economic Development

Population

* The population of Alberta increased by 2.0% (or 67,660 people) in 2007, to reach 3,497,881.

Migration

* In 2007, the number of people coming to Alberta from other provinces (102,445) exceeded those leaving for other provinces (91,820), resulting in a net inter-provincial in-migration of 10,625. (However, net inter-provincial in-migration was negative in the last two quarters of 2007.) In 2007, net international migration into Alberta was 32,627.

Employment and Workforce

* In 2007, employment increased by 88,700 and Alberta ranked first among Canadian provinces for employment growth rate, at 4.7%.
* In 2007, Alberta enjoyed Canada’s lowest unemployment rate of 3.5%, versus the national average unemployment rate of 6.0%.

Labour Productivity

* Productivity is a measure of how efficiently an economy transforms its labour, capital, and raw materials into goods and services. One measure of an economy’s productivity is labour productivity, or the output per worker. This measures not just how hard people work but how “smart” they work. It measures the extent to which Canadian businesses and industries take advantage of better education, training, management, equipment, and technology to increase the amount of production per worker. Productivity growth allows real wages to increase by lowering prices, thus leading to real improvements to our standard of living.
* Alberta has the highest labour productivity in the country, mainly as a result of its highly productive oil and gas sector.
* Alberta’s labour productivity growth rate, however, has averaged only 1.0% in the ten years up to 2007, which is below the national average of 1.4%, and far below the U.S. productivity growth rate.

Educated Work Force

* Alberta’s labour force of almost two million workers is well-educated. In 2006, 60 per cent of the labour force, 25 years of age and older, reported holding a university degree, post-secondary diploma or certificate.

Price Trends and Inflation

* Inflation in Alberta in 2007 rose by 5.0% (the highest in Canada), mainly as a result of higher housing and energy costs, compared with a 2.2% increase at the national level.
* In March 2008, the annual inflation rate was a more modest 2.9% (the lowest rate since March 2006).
* Prices were sharply higher for home replacement, electricity, gasoline, rental costs and home insurance, but prices were lower for fresh vegetables and meat and for the purchase and leasing of passenger vehicles.

Public and Private Investment

* Total public and private investment in Alberta rose by 4.9% to $80.7 billion in 2007. Housing investment rose 17.9% and oil sands investment 30.8%. On a per capita basis, Alberta investment of $23,230 is more than double the national average.
* Statistics Canada expects that investment will rise by 3.8% to $83.8 billion in 2008, driven by increases in machinery and equipment investments, and large increases for oil sands and pipelines.
* Alberta currently has about $267 billion in major projects either planned or under construction.

Major Capital Projects

* The oil sands’ 53 major capital projects are valued at an estimated $168.6 billion.
* 303 infrastructure projects, including roads, bridges, fire halls and police stations, total $18.9 billion.
* 211 institutional sector projects (as of the end of April 2008), including schools, post-secondary buildings, libraries and churches, total $13.1 billion.

International Trade

* In 2007, Alberta’s international goods exports grew by 5.6% to $82.1 billion, and service exports declined by 2.7%.
* Total international imports rose 6.4% in 2007, as goods imports increased by 6.9%.
* Substantial export increases were noted for crops (such as wheat and canola), primary metals (especially nickel), coal, sulphur, fabricated metals, and machinery.

Gross Domestic Product (GDP)

* Alberta’s GDP in current dollars amounted to $259.9 billion in 2007, roughly the same as Ireland’s GDP.
* After leading the nation for economic growth in the previous three years, Alberta came in second place in 2007 with real GDP growth of 3.3%. Strong growth resulted from continued oil sands development, strong growth in the construction and services producing industries, solid consumer spending, and robust investment in machinery and equipment.
* The government sector was the major driver of Alberta’s economic growth in 2007. Government spending on goods and services rose 6.7% and government capital investment 18.7%.
* Sectors with the highest growth rates in 2007 were on the service side: retail trade (up 9.1%); healthcare and social assistance (6.5%); finance, insurance and real estate (6.3%); and wholesale trade (6.2%). Construction rose 5.1% and manufacturing 0.3%. However, the agriculture sector saw a 1.6% decline, and mining and oil and gas fell by 0.8% as a result of a 23.5% decline in the service sector (e.g. drilling and exploration).
* On a ten-year basis (GDP growth between 1997 and 2007), Alberta’s average annual growth of 4.0% per year was second only to Newfoundland and Labrador’s 4.9% increase. On a five-year basis Alberta led the nation with an average increase of 4.7% per year. Alberta also led the nation on a 20-year basis with average annual growth of 3.9%.
* In the 2008 budget, Alberta’s economy is forecast to grow by 2.9% in 2008 and 3.0% in 2009. Business investment, particularly in oil sands upgraders and pipelines, is expected to remain an important driver of growth. Oil exports are also expected to grow rapidly as production from new oil sands projects comes on stream.
* In its most recent long term provincial forecast, the Conference Board of Canada expects Alberta to lead the nation for economic growth for most of the years from 2007-2030. Over that period, Alberta’s average annual GDP growth rate is forecast at 2.9%. Ontario is rated second at 2.6% and Manitoba third at 2.2%.

2006 Percentage Distribution of GDP

Total GDP: $240.0 Billion  

Prepared by
Alberta Finance and Enterprise

2.2 East Central Alberta - Socioeconomic Profile

The information contained in this document does not represent the views of the Government of Alberta or any of its ministries. Information has been collected from many different sources, and is presented for information only, as background to the scenario planning workshops conducted by the East Central Alberta Cumulative Effects Project - June 2008. 

 

City of Camrose County of Camrose County of Beaver County of Flagstaff Bashaw Tofield Viking
Population (2006) 15,850 7,294 5,644 3,697 825 1818 1052
% change 1991 - 1996 2.24% 1.81% 4.05% -2.09% -4.26% 6.14% -2.59%
% change 1996-2001 7.59% -4.36% -0.25% -8.51% 6.18% 4.90% -2.46%
% change 2001-2006 6.28% -0.01% -0.02% -0.08% 0.00% 0.17% -0.29%
% Age 0-19 (2001) 25.93 30.77 31.71 1215 160 465 205
% Age 20-54 (2001) 42.09 45.37 46.68 1685 300 745 415
% Age 55+ (2001) 30.27 23.78 21.43 770 365 610 430
Total # of Families (2001) 3505 1,790 1345 955 205 405 235
Total # of households (2001) 6125 2,565 1905 1260 350 695 460
Education
no-high school certificate 34.60% 34.40% 38.56% 30.92% 48.74% 34.96% 49.67%
High School certificate 13.40% 14.20% 15.95% 21.69% 15.13% 11.38% 6.62%
Trade certificate 28.60% 31.50% 29.67% 28.11% 27.73% 31.71% 32.45%
Some University (degrees and incomplete) 23.40% 19.50% 15.70% 18.87% 10.08% 22.37% 11.92%
Labor Force
Participation 65% 79% 77% 80% 53% 58% 66%
Unemployment 6% 2% 4% 3% 9% 5% 3%
Average family income (2001) $57,914 $58,013 $59,047 $62,130 $47,723 $56,913 $54,300
Average household income (2001) $47,953 $53,154 $53,809 $56,626 $40,323 $48,690 $42,227
Major industry
Agriculture 2.94% 36.41% 32.53% 44.74% 7.14% 1.28% 8.65%
Business & Community Services 48.13% 26.28% 28.29% 23.46% 21.43% 42.31% 45.19%
Retail & Wholesale 20.63% 11.80% 11.35% 6.80% 21.43% 16.67% 19.23%
Mining 3.02% 3.12% 4.69% 8.55% 15.71% 3.84% 1.92%
Manufacturing 6.48% 5.79% 5.45% 1.75% 12.86% 8.33% 0
Construction 6.81% 6.68% 5.75% 3.51% 8.57% 6.41% 10.58%
Transportation & Utilities 4.75% 5.35% 6.66% 7.89% 0 7.69% 6.73%
Finance 4.81% 2.67% 3.03% 1.75% 2.86% 6.41% 1.92%
Public Administration 2.27% 2.23% 1.97% 1.54% 0 7.69% 4.81%
Building
Total value of Building permits (2005) $34.9m $10.2 m $3.9 m $20,000 $914,000 $41,000
Total housing starts (2005) 148 56 20 0 1 0
Living in single detached dwellings (2001) 66.61% 95.91% 91.36% 97.20% 80.00% 85.61%
private dewellings, owned 67.67% 89.28% 90.31% 90.84% 68.57% 82.73% 81.52%
private dewellings, rented 32.33% 10.72% 9.69% 9.56% 31.43% 17.27% 18.48%
Major projects (as of December 2007)
Infrastructure (# of projects) $30.7 m (2) $5.2 m (1) $22.4 m (3) $10.2 m (1)
Institutional (# of projects) $30.5 m (3) $6m (1)
Manufacturing (# of projects) $30 m (1)
Residential (# of projects) $11.3 m (1)
Tourism/Recreation (# of projects) $11.6 m (2)
Mining $1.5 b (1)
Total value and number of projects $114.1 m (9) $5.2 m (1) $1.522 b (4) $10.2 m (1) 0 0 $6m (1)
Project descriptions *See below Water pipeline Sherritt; Highway grading and paving Highway upgrade and paving Hospital reno
Farming
0-559 acres 59.70% 53.64% 38.93%
560-1,119 acres 21.44% 22.89% 22.73%
1120 + acres 18.83% 23.46% 38.75%
Total Gross receipts (from farming)
under $49,999 44.08% 51.48% 33.45%
$50,000-$249,999 40.61% 35.99% 46.53%
Over $250,000 15.31% 12.53% 20.03%
Age of Farm operators
Under 35 years 11.39% 11.38% 13.62%
35-54 years 52.78% 52.03% 54.47%
55+ years 35.83% 35.77% 31.91%
Average age of operator 50 years 50 years 49 years
* Shaw Pipe Protection Plant; City of Camrose: upgrades to water treatment plant (2 projects) and an affordable housing project; Augustana College: library and performing arts centre (2 projects); motel development; expansion of exposition facility; highway modernification

 

Prepared by
Abells Henry Public Affairs

Source
Alberta First.com - Community Profiles http://www.albertafirst.com/profiles/community

2.3 Agriculture

History

Early in Alberta’s history, agricultural activities were limited to growing vegetables and wheat as a food supply for settlements in forts and missions. The first known record of cultivation in Alberta is in 1779 when a fur trader named Peter Pond grew vegetables at his isolated post near Lake Athabasca.

One hundred years later, after the Canadian Pacific Railway reached Alberta, an influx of settlers began an agricultural land use pattern that exists today. To take full advantage of the short growing season, they chose to cultivate lands with the most productive soil. By 1905, there were 416,000 acres under cultivation in Alberta. Agricultural activities have changed dramatically since the province was first settled - evolving from subsistence farming and ranching to cultivation and diversified mixed farming. In 2006 there were 52.1 million acres of cultivated land in Alberta and the province is the second largest agricultural producer in Canada, exporting goods to the United States, Japan, Mexico and other nations.

General Agricultural Overview in the East Central Project Area

The counties of Beaver, Camrose and Flagstaff are located within the Central Parkland Natural Subregion of Alberta. The Subregion occupies an intensively cultivated and heavily populated area in Central Alberta. The region’s climate is highly favourable for a wide range of crop production options. Although a large portion of the area is dominated by solonetzic soils that reduce productivity, typically the highly productive nature of much of the soil in the region supports predominantly crop production including wheat, canola, barley and alfalfa. In 2006, the area of land in crops was about three times greater than the area of pasture within these three counties. Cattle and hog production are also important contributors to the economy in the area and represent a significant portion of the agriculture industry across the province.

Current Agricultural Trends

The three counties in the project area show generally the same trends - the total number of farms and the average farm size increased from 4 to 10 percent between the 2001 and 2006 Census for Agriculture. Similarly, the average age of agricultural operators continues to increase and is presently about 52 in these three counties. While the populations of Beaver and Camrose Counties increased by an average of about 2.5 percent. between the 2001 and 2006 Census of Agriculture, the population of Flagstaff County decreased by about two percent over the same time period. Within Camrose County, the population increase can be attributed to growth of the City of Camrose, fuelled by its proximity to the City of Edmonton and its status as the “Regional Center” for east central Alberta.

Generally, these overall trends are consistent with changes seen throughout Alberta between 2001 and 2006 as well as nationally and globally. Consolidation of agricultural operations is resulting in fewer and larger farms in part because the economies of scale give larger farms an economic advantage over smaller operations, specifically with regard to rising input costs such as fuel and fertilizer and the high Canadian dollar. As a result, it is becoming increasingly difficult for the “average” Alberta farmer or rancher to remain competitive in current market conditions. Competitiveness in the industry is also influenced by Alberta’s recent labour shortage. The East Central region of Alberta is no exception to this trend, and is a particular challenge in the agricultural sector because it makes it difficult to attract and retain workers.

General Current Trends in Alberta’s Agriculture Sector

* Rising input costs such as fuel and fertilizer affecting industry stability
* Deceased reliance on local markets for agricultural products resulting in a disconnect between producer and consumer
* Increased demand for oilseed crops for the biofuel industry
* Increased world demand for cereal grains for food, animal feed and the biofuel industry
* Increasing average age of operators as fewer young people enter the market
* Reliance on off farm income to supplement farm income and maintain farm or ranch lifestyle
* Emergence of speciality market niches such as organic and free range as consumer options
* An increase in the market value of land for non-agriculture uses
* Increasing competition between agriculture and other land uses
* Increased reliance of petrochemical based fertilizer
* Fragmentation of agricultural land base especially in the Edmonton - Calgary corridor
* Removal of prairie potholes to accommodate operation of larger farm equipment

 

Paradigm Shift

From:

To:

              

Supply Based Agricultural Market

Demand Based Agricultural Market

- Low consumer awareness

- High consumer awareness

- Low adaptive capacity

- High adaptive capacity

- Producers determine available market goods

- Consumers determine available market goods

Future Trends and Alberta’s Agriculture Sector

The projected effects of climate change on the agriculture industry in Alberta will force operators to adapt to new market conditions to remain efficient and competitive under major environmental constraints. Water shortages, increased drought frequency, wind erosion effects, production losses, livestock feed scarcity and overall ecosystem changes will be the driving change factors that will shape the future of agriculture in Alberta, including the east central region.

As water becomes scarcer, allocation of this resource becomes key. Rivers and streams in central Alberta have a high contamination potential due to the low run-off and relatively flat topography. The face of agriculture is and will likely continue to change in the region, considering the current trend towards more intensive agricultural operations, coupled with increasing water scarcity and higher land and water use pressures.

Several other export markets are emerging in the world market. To remain competitive with these new players, Alberta’s long term success is dependent on the shift from a commodity orientation to a high-value, differentiated product orientation. This vision for the agriculture industry will allow Alberta to take full advantage of this niche market and out perform global competitors in the export market.

Consumer awareness about the environment is increasing. They are starting to demand that food be produced in an environmentally sustainable manner. As part of that, some consumers are looking to regain a connection between producers and consumer, and so regional cuisine, “local food miles” and the “100 Mile Diet” are increasingly part of consumer consciousness regarding their food - particularly in increasingly affluent and urban markets.

Society is more aware of the potential impacts of environmental issues, like loss of biodiversity, reduced water quantity and climate change and agriculture’s direct or perceived affect on these environmental parameters. Alberta is increasingly urban, and the demographics in Flagstaff, Beaver and Camrose Counties are shifting (the average age of farmers and ranchers has increased, fewer young people are entering the industry, and the need for off-farm income to support agricultural operations increases).

An integrated approach between communities and land users, including the agriculture industry, is necessary to adapt to dramatically changing market and environmental conditions. Although the east central region is facing new challenges, local communities can build on existing strengths and decide what long-term opportunities they should pursue.

Prepared by
Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development

2.4 Coal Development

The coal resource

* The study area hosts a wide swath of Horseshoe Canyon Formation coals extending from Tofield south to Castor in the County of Paintearth. The Energy Resources Conservation Board has designated two coalfields in this area: the Tofield-Dodds Coalfield and the Battle River Coalfield.
* Within the study area, the Tofield-Dodds Coalfield has been assigned reserves of over 1.1 billion tonnes of combined surface and underground mineable coal, while the Battle River Coalfield is estimated to have over 450 million tonnes of combined surface and underground mineable coal.
* These coal are ranked as subbituminous and significant reserves are found under shallow overburden, making them suitable for surface mining. Subbituminous coals are primarily used in Alberta for generating electricity, cement manufacture and domestic or agricultural purposes.
* There is one mine operating within the study area. The Dodds mine produces in the range of 75-100,000 tonnes of coal per year, in a variety of sizes for its domestic and agricultural customers.
* Coal ownership throughout the study area is a checkerboard mixture of freehold and Crown titles.

History

* Coal has been mined in the study area since the early 1900s, both from underground and surface operations.
* Some of the more productive historical mines in the area were operated by the Tofield Coal Company, Black Nugget Coal, Burnstad Coal, Red Flame Coal and Camrose Collieries. All of these mines have been closed for many years.
* The Dodds Mine has operated since 1909 and is the last of the many small coalmines that once operated across Alberta, supplying coal to the local communities and farms.

Trends in coal

* Increasing natural gas prices in the last few years convinced many farm and greenhouse operations to convert their heating needs to coal. Much of this demand in East Central Alberta is filled by the Dodds mine and this demand is expected to continue as long as natural gas prices remain high.
* Sherritt International Corporation has proposed to develop Canada’s first commercial coal gasification, the Dodds-Roundhill Coal Gasification Project. The proposed project will include a surface coal mine and a coal gasification facility located just south of the town of Tofield and village of Ryley and north of the hamlet of Round Hill. The company has not yet filed applications for regulatory approval (May 2008).
* Subbituminous coal has a lower energy content and value than other Alberta coals from the mountains and foothills, consequently large volumes of the resource are not usually transported long distances and surface mining will be the preferred recovery method. Larger coal developments, such as generating or gasification plants, will be situated close to the mine.
* While the reserves in the study area are substantial, no developments other than the Sherritt proposal are expected in the near future.

Coal gasification

* The gasification process converts coal into a synthesis gas composed primarily of carbon monoxide and hydrogen, which can be used as a fuel to generate electricity or steam, or used as a basic chemical building block for a large number of uses in the petrochemical and refining industries.
* The syngas can also be processed using commercially available technologies to produce a wide range of products, fuels, chemicals, fertilizer or industrial gases such as hydrogen.
* Gasification adds value to low-value feedstocks by converting them to higher-value marketable fuels and products.
 

Prepared by Alberta Energy

2.5 Oil and Natural Gas Development

Overview

* The Province of Alberta owns almost 81 per cent of the oil, natural gas and other mineral resources in Alberta. The remaining mineral rights are held by the federal government on behalf of First Nations or in National Parks or are privately owned. Mineral title holders have a corresponding legal right to access their minerals.
* A key concept in the management of mineral resources for the benefit of Albertans is the transfer from the provincial Crown to the private sector, through agreements issued under the Mines and Minerals Act, of the right to “win, work and recover” resources. These agreements outline contractual obligations that allows the government to collect associated revenue from resource development in the form of royalties, bonus bid payments and rents.
* Energy revenues accounted in 2006/07 for 32 percent of the revenue 1 allocated under Alberta’s provincial budget and just over two-thirds of the value of Alberta’s total exports in 2007.2 The Energy sector employs - directly and indirectly - nearly one in every six workers in Alberta.3
* In order to optimize and sustain current and future economic contributions, Alberta must ensure that its energy and mineral resources remain competitive with other jurisdictions and be attractive to investment and development.
* Energy development is exempt from the Municipal Government Act - the importance of oil and gas development to the province is such that energy development approvals of the Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) take precedence over local municipal plans and bylaws that might vary from place to place.
* Over 80 per cent of Canada’s natural gas production is from Alberta. Royalties to Alberta from natural gas and its by-products are larger than royalties from crude oil and bitumen.4

Hydrocarbon Resource History in the ECACEP Study Area 5

* Oil and gas has been produced in large volumes from Cretaceous strata since the early 1950’s. Deeper Devonian strata are productive in the extreme southwest corner of Camrose County - near Buffalo Lake.
* A total of approximately 15,600 wells have been drilled to evaluate, produce and enhance the oil and gas production within the study area. Currently there are over 8800 active oil and natural gas wells.
* Cumulative raw gas production is 2,957 Bcf (billion cubic feet) and cumulative oil production is 346 MM Bbls (million barrels).
* The ERCB estimates remaining established natural gas reserves of 745 Bcf and ‘yet to be established reserves’ of 802 Bcf, yielding an ultimate remaining potential of 1546 Bcf. This is approximately 50% of cumulative production to date.

Trends in Oil Development 6

* Oil production in the study area peaked at 58,000 BOPD (barrels of oil per day) in 1993 and began a precipitous decline to 20,000 BOPD by mid 1999. Production stabilized until mid 2001 and then began to decline steadily to 11,000 BOPD by early 2008.
* The active oil well count peaked at under 1400 in 1997. Currently there are still over 1200 ‘active’ oil wells in the study area.
* A simplistic decline model, assuming that there is no significant opportunity for new discoveries suggests that remaining recoverable oil is less than 40 MM Bbls. Oil production may cease by 2034.

Trends in Gas Development 7

* Gas production in the study area, including unconventional resources, peaked at just over 250 MMscf (raw) per day in February 2006 and have slipped to under 230 MMscf per day by 2008.
* A wide fluctuation in production rates due to seasonality was experienced from the earliest records (1961) until about 1996. The amplitude of this variation declined noticeably during the 1990’s and virtually ceased in 2000. This suggests that surplus capacity is no longer available in the study area.
* The gas well count increased erratically until late 2000 to approximately 800 wells. At that point the number of wells increased geometrically, increasing to over 2000 by early 2006 - coincident with peak gas production. To present there has been a net increase of ‘only’ approximately 250 gas wells since the peak, with a corresponding decline in gas production and individual well average performance.

Trends in Unconventional Gas Development 8

* Within the study area ’significant’ unconventional gas production is currently limited to Horseshoe Canyon Formation coals - necessarily down-dip to the Tofield-Dodds and Battle River Coal Fields. This area is in the southwest corner of Camrose County between Buffalo Lake and Bittern Lake.
* Isolated deeper (Mannville Group) wet coals are producing near Strom, Kelsey and Camrose.
* There are less than twenty of these wells at present that have public production records.
* The number of “coalbed methane” (CBM) wells has increase from virtually ‘none’ in early 2003 to over 400 in early 2008.
* Cumulative production is 27.7 Bcf (raw), with production in 2007 nearly reaching 10 Bcf (raw).
* This compares to annual conventional production of 82 Bcf in the same year.
* The outlook for shallow CBM production is extremely dependent upon expanding infrastructure (wells). Limited by the erosional sub-crop of the Horseshoe Canyon Formation and the existing coal fields - much of the resource is already under development and has yielded comparatively modest results.
* The potential for the deeper Mannville coals to yield significant volumes of gas is unknown; they may prove to be beyond the capacity of the Alberta economy to extricate economically.
* The potential for tight gas ’shales’ (and silts) is likewise unknown, but the trend is clear that there is a diminishing return as the more difficult resources are developed. This applies to both conventional and ‘un-conventional’ hydrocarbon energy resources.

Prepared by
Alberta Energy

Sources

1. Alberta Energy, 2008
2. Alberta Finance and Enterprise, March 2008: “Alberta’s International Merchandise Exports January to December 2007.
3. Alberta Energy, 2008
4. Ibid
5. Interpretations by Alberta Energy, June 2008.
6. Ibid
7. Ibid
8. Ibid

2.6 Sand and Gravel in Alberta

Overview

* The extraction of aggregate (sand and gravel) resources is vital to the growth of Alberta. Readily available supplies of aggregate are essential for development of the roads, buildings and infrastructure on which economies are built.
* Aggregate extraction, however, has also emerged as an area of potential conflict at the community level. Municipalities and their residents often have concerns with the visual, environmental and economic impacts of sand and gravel operations within their boundaries.
* Provincial codes and regulations for sand and gravel operations have varying requirements for the industry depending on the size of the pit, the ownership of the land on which the pit is located and whether the operator of the pit is public or private sector.

Trends in sand and gravel

* The pressure to access new sand and gravel resources is growing and is most likely to occur close to development markets and in high growth areas.
* As a result, gravel deposits near urban centers and in high growth areas are being depleted much faster than replacement sources are being found and developed.
* As readily available aggregate supplies deplete, pressure is increasing across the province to find and develop new aggregate sources.
* With escalating development pressures in the province and finite gravel resources, there is also growing pressure for industry to mine aggregate from areas that were previously deemed unprofitable or inaccessible.

Importance of aggregate resources for development:

* A typical six-lane highway in Alberta requires as much as 40,000 tonnes of aggregate per
* kilometer (24,855 tonnes of aggregate per mile). This includes graded gravel for the road base, sand and gravel in asphalt and concrete pavement, plus medians, bridges, overpasses and retaining walls.
* Newly constructed rural roads require approximately 2,172 tonnes (approximately 100 truck loads) of crushed gravel per kilometer (1,350 tonnes per mile).
* Re-gravelling rural roads requires approximately 483 tonnes or 22 truck loads per kilometre (300 tonnes per mile).
* A typical family house uses as much as 160 tonnes (12 truck loads) of gravel beneath the basement floor, for drainage around the foundation, in the construction of lanes and driveways, and for stucco and masonry.
* The aggregate resource is critical to the development of the transportation and structural infrastructure that supports the development of new mineral, oil and gas, forestry and other renewable resources in Alberta.

Nature and Extent of Sand and Gravel Industry In Alberta

* Mineral aggregate has the largest commercial value of any non-energy mineral resource produced in Alberta.
* The aggregate industry in Alberta represents thousands of employees, and there are estimated to be between 3,500 and 4,000 sand and gravel pits and/or surface material operations located in Alberta.
* Under the Alberta Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act (EPEA), a pit is defined as “any opening in, excavation in or working of the surface or subsurface made for the purpose of removing sand, gravel, clay or marl, and includes any associated infrastructure but does not include a mine or quarry”.

Pits in Alberta fall into the following categories:

* Class I pits on private land are greater than or equal to 5 hectares, and are subject to the requirements of the Code of Practice for Pits under the EPEA, the Conservation and Reclamation Regulation and the land use and development authority of the local municipality. Class I pits require a registration and are required to provide full-cost reclamation security. It is estimated there are 600 - 700 Class I pits currently located on private land in Alberta.
* Class II pits on private land are less than 5 hectares. Class II pits do not require a registration, nor are they subject to full-cost provincial security requirements. Class II pits are subject to the environmental provisions of the EPEA and specifically the requirements of the Conservation and Reclamation Regulation under the Act, as well as the land use and development authority of the local municipality. There are estimated to be approximately 2,000 smaller pits on private land in Alberta.

Prepared by
Alberta Environment

Source
AAMDC. 2007. Municipal Guide to the Sand and Gravel Operations in Alberta.

2.7 Transportation

Overview

The new millennium will see Alberta continue to experience considerable growth in exports and tourism. Emerging e-commerce and the growing exports of value-added products are shifting Alberta’s traditional resource based economy to a new economy, which relies heavily on just-in-time performance and integrated transportation logistics systems. The new economy requires more efficient trucking services and highway infrastructure to sustain the growth and competitiveness.

Governments are now turning to the emerging and evolving technologies known as intelligent transportation systems (ITS) for solutions to help them meet the many challenges and demands placed on transportation systems. A general definition of ITS is as follows:

“Intelligent Transportation Systems include the application of advanced information processing (computers), communications, technologies and management strategies, in an integrated manner, to improve the safety, capacity and efficiency of the transportation system.”

ITS applications can generally be divided into the following eight major functional categories:

1. Traveller Information Services (e.g. traveller advisory systems, etc.)

2. Traffic Management Services (e.g. advanced traffic signal systems, freeway incident detection and management systems, etc.)

3. Public Transport Services (e.g. electronic transit schedule information, GPS tracking of bus movements and locations, etc.)

4. Commercial Vehicle Operations (e.g. weigh-in-motion, electronic truck clearance at vehicle inspection stations and border crossings, etc.)

5. Electronic Payment Services (e.g. electronic toll payment, transit fare payment, etc.)

6. Emergency Management Services (e.g. improving emergency vehicle response time by fleet tracking, route guidance and signal pre-emption, etc.)

7. Vehicle Safety and Control Systems (e.g. in-vehicle technologies such as on-board computers, collision avoidance sensor technologies, etc.)

8. Information Warehousing Services (e.g. traffic safety data collection, archived data management, etc.)

Traffic Volumes

Roadways and highways within any transportation network are dynamic as traffic volumes and local development pressures change over time. The main highway classification strategy for the Province of Alberta (1995) was developed to address planning and programming requirements, and was used primarily for the identification of geometric standards for design projects. The vision of this classification system was for 20 years. A second classification system was advanced in 2001 based on a longer 50 year vision of what the provincial highway network could be, and was intended to assist in the management of access and development adjacent to the major routes.

The system is based on four basic functions that a highway can serve:

National Highway System (Level 1)
These highways accommodate the movement of people, goods and services inter-provincially and internationally. They are defined as core routes in the National Highway System and serve long trip lengths. This category comprises the regionally known systems such as the Trans Canada, Yellowhead and the North/South CANAMEX Trade Highway. Access to this type of facility is restricted and generally only connects with arterial roads.

Arterials (Level 2)
Roadways in this category are similar in nature of the preceding level as they accommodate the movement of people, goods and services but intra-provincially only.. Access to arterial roads is restricted connecting with the National Highway System and collector roads.

Collectors (Level 3)
This type of highway carries traffic from major generators such as communities, and / or resource and industrial developments but with overall shorter travel distances. These roadways provide the connection between local roads and arterials, and generally serve traffic of an inter-county nature (i.e. through two or more counties). The collector network generally should be spaced no greater than 30 kilometres apart in developed agricultural areas. For areas that are more sparsely populated, this spacing can increase. Access to this type of roadway is less restrictive and can serve majorcommunities and developments.

Locals (Level 4)
Roadways in this category serve traffic of an intra-jurisdictional nature or traffic within a localized area in the vicinity of a boundary. A commuter route is considered in this category unless it passes through a separate jurisdiction from origin to destination. In this case, it would be considered as a collector. A road that primarily serves country residential and rural homesteads is considered local in nature. This type of roadway is the main access for developments and agricultural, resource and natural areas of the province.

Park Access
Park roads also serve a provincial function within the global tourist industry in Alberta.

* National Highway System (Level 1) facilities - 5,689 km (or 18.4% of the network);
* Arterials (Level 2) facilities - 8,494 km (or 27.4% of the network);
* Collectors (Level 3) facilities - 12,216 km (or 39.6% of the network);
* Locals (Level 4) facilities - 4,097 km (or 13.3% of the network); and
* Park Access facilities - 363 km (or 1.3% of the network).

Prepared by
Abells Henry Public Affairs

Sources:
Alberta Infrastructure. 2000. Alberta Infrastructure Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Strategic Plan.

Stantec Consulting Ltd. 2007. Provincial Highway Service Classification. Final Report prepared for Alberta Infrastructure and Transportation.

3. Environmental Dimension

3.1. Water

3.1.1 Water Security and Water Allocation

General Background

* Water security is a concept that recognizes that sufficient good quality water is needed for social, economic and cultural uses while, at the same time, adequate water is required to sustain and enhance important ecosystem functions.
* In a country as large and diverse as Canada, achieving water security depends on decisions made by a host of actors, from individual water users to governments at all levels.
* Water scarcity is seen by some as a natural phenomenon over which people have no control. In reality, scarcity commonly reflects a mismatch between available supplies and demands due to inappropriate development decisions.
* With increased demands for water and land from a growing population and economy, and with the prospect of fundamental changes in the hydrologic cycle due to climate change, threats to water resources in Canada will increase as time goes by.
* Water allocation systems, the rules and procedures through which access to water is determined, are critical to achieving water security.
* By establishing the availability and priority of access to water resources for consumptive uses such as cities, agriculture, and manufacturing, and for non-consumptive uses such as hydropower, recreation and environmental protection, water allocation systems influence economic productivity, social and cultural wellbeing and ecosystem quality.

Key links between water security and water allocation

* Ecosystem protection: Water is critical in numerous terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems because it contributes to the capacity of these ecosystems to perform natural processes and functions. Allocating water to instream flow needs is one of the mechanisms increasingly used to provide for ecosystem protection within water allocation systems.
* Economic production: Water plays an important role as a resource for economic production. Examples include water used in agriculture to irrigate crops and in thermal power production for cooling, and water used for instream activities such as hydropower and recreation. Water security in this context is provided by clearly defined and stable allocation rules that can foster private and public investment in economic production.
* Integration: The intricate links between groundwater and surface water imply, for example, that groundwater withdrawals may also affect groundwater-dependent ecosystems, such as wetlands and streams. Storm runoff resulting from increasing urbanization is one among many examples of the potential of land use practices to have a large impact on the ability of communities to secure sufficient quantities of good quality water.

Current Situation

* Under Canada’s Constitution, responsibility for water allocation in Canada is shared between the provinces/territories and the federal government.
* The federal government has important constitutional responsibilities relating to fisheries, navigation, transboundary flows and Aboriginal peoples. Nonetheless, water allocation is primarily a provincial and territorial responsibility.
* Given the different social and economic histories of Canada’s provinces and territories, and the enormous variability in the distribution of water resources across the country, it should not be surprising that there is considerable variation in water allocation systems from region-to-region, and that governance is extremely complex and context-specific.

Change factors and major initiatives

* The predecessors of Canada’s water allocation systems were created a century or more ago, when the political context, economic circumstances and social priorities were different, and when demands for water were frequently less pressing than today.
* However, circumstances have changed. When pressures on water supplies increase, weaknesses in water allocation systems -such as inflexible rules, promotion of inefficient uses, or an inability to resolve conflicts - quickly become evident.
* These kinds of problems have become more apparent during the past two decades, and can be expected to become more severe as increasing demand for water coupled with climate change increases pressures on water resources across Canada.
* To varying extents, all Canadian provinces and territories have recognized that water allocation systems contribute to water security - today and into the future. This recognition is reflected in changes that have been made, or are being proposed, and in the approaches that are being used across the country to confront contemporary challenges.

Water allocation in Alberta

* Alberta Environment issues water licenses for surface water and groundwater withdrawals under the Water Act.
* The water allocation system in Alberta is based on the principle of prior appropriation (first in time, first in right). Licence applications are labelled with priority numbers that correspond to the date and time that the Director received the complete applications.
* Traditional agricultural water diversions for livestock rearing and application of pesticides to crops, up to a maximum of 6,250 m3/year (cubic metres per year), do not require a licence. Riparian (the banks of a body of water) landowners diverting water for household purposes are exempt from the need for a licence.
* Licences must be issued with an expiry date (10 to 25 years), but registrations for traditional agricultural uses do not have expiry dates.
* Allocation arrangements are affected by apportionment agreements that guarantee minimum annual volumes (as a percent of natural flow) across the Albertan border to Saskatchewan and Montana (Master Agreement on Apportionment). There is also an agreement to work closely with all jurisdictions involved in managing water in the Mackenzie River Basin.

Prepared by
Alberta Environment

Source:
de Loë, R.C., Varghese, J., Ferreyra, C. and Kreutzwiser, R.D. 2007. Water Allocation and Water Security in Canada: Initiating a Policy Dialogue for the 21st Century. Report prepared for the Walter and Duncan Gordon Foundation. Guelph, ON: Guelph Water Management Group, University of Guelph.


3.1.2 Surface Water Quantity

Note: The information contained in this Topic Area Brief does not represent the views of the Government of Alberta or any of its ministries. Information has been collected from many different sources, and is presented for information only, as background to the scenario planning workshops conducted by the East Central Alberta Cumulative Effects Project - June 2008.

Summary

* There is reasonably good hydrologic and climatic data available for the project area and its immediate vicinity.
* It is wetter and cooler in the northwest and drier and warmer in the southeast.

Hydrology

The project lies within three watersheds:

* 62% in the Battle River Basin (central)
* 36.5% in the North Saskatchewan River Basin (north to northeast)
* 1.5 % in the Red Deer River Basin (southwest corner)

The largest stream within the project area is the Battle River which enters the project from the west central boundary and flows 68 km southeast and exits the project area near Forestburg.

* The Battle River median annual flow volume at Forestburg is 97,000 dam3 (1 cubic dam = 1000 cubic metres). Median annual flow (Mar-Oct) is 2.1 m3/s (cubic meter per second). Peak runoff occurs typically between April and May. The annual median peak daily flow is 26 m3/s with an extreme peak of 242 m3/s recorded in 1974.

Four of 18 hydrometric gauging stations within the project area are active:

* Battle River
* Vermilion River Tributary
* Camrose Creek
* Driedmeat Lake

Data records vary for location from just several years to over 40-years of record.

Climate

* There are three climate stations within the project area at Camrose, Holden and Killam. There is one prairie snow station at Bruce.
* It is wetter and cooler in the northwest and drier and warmer in the southeast.
 

Precipitation and evaporation rates

North West Corner of project area South East Corner of project area Mean annual rates:
Annual precipitation 480 mm 415 mm 460 mm
Gross evaporation 750 mm 815 mm 775 mm
Net evaporation 270 mm 400 mm 335 mm

Note: (mm = millimetre)

Current Water Allocations

The project area contains 4,155 surface water licenses for a total allocation of 18,000 dam3. Major allocations include:

* Urban use: 11 licenses totalling 4,602 dam3
* Stabilization and wetlands (such as Ducks Unlimited projects): 74 licenses totalling 6,083 dam3
* Crop allocations: 44 licenses totalling 2,113 dam3.
* Registry (”grandfathered” agricultural use): 2643 licenses for a total of 950 dam3.

Included in this total is 725 Temporary Diversion Licenses (TDL) for 1,085 dam3

*
o Oil/gas use: 564 licenses totalling 342 dam3

Prepared by
Alberta Environment

3.1.3 Surface Water Quality

Note: The information contained in this Topic Area Brief does not represent the views of the Government of Alberta or any of its ministries. Information has been collected from many different sources, and is presented for information only, as background to the scenario planning workshops conducted by the East Central Alberta Cumulative Effects Project - June 2008.

Summary

* There is very limited water quality data available in the project area, with the exceptions of Miquelon and Driedmeat lakes, and the Battle River.
* Surface water quality is generally poor, with high nutrients and fecal bacteria as well as frequent detection of pesticides and other organics.
* As a result of high nutrient concentrations, frequent excessive growth of algae and aquatic plants occurs in most water bodies in the project area.

General Information

* Surface water consists of wetlands, ponds, lakes, creeks and rivers.
* Surface water conditions in the project area are generally monitored by Alberta Environment, research institutions (e.g. universities), municipalities and industries.
* Municipalities and industries are required to monitor discharge water as a requirement of their approval to withdraw and use water.
* Monitoring has generally been restricted to rivers and lakes. Very limited wetland monitoring has occurred in the project area.
* Surface water resources are generally limited within the project area. The most significant sources of surface water in the study area include the Battle River, Driedmeat Lake, and the small lakes in and near Miquelon Lake Provincial Park.

Lake Water Quality

* Of the eight named lakes in the project area (Joseph, Oliver, Ministik, Miquelon, Driedmeat, Demay, Dusty and Wavy), water quality data is available from all except Demay, Dusty and Wavy. Recent data (within the past 10 years) is available from Miquelon and Driedmeat lakes only. The majority of lake sampling occurred in the early to mid-1970s.
* Water quality in the lakes sampled is generally poor. Most have very high nutrient concentrations (nitrogen and phosphorus) and experience significant blue-green algal blooms. Driedmeat Lake routinely has toxic algal blooms and has experienced regular summer and winterkills of fish.
* Miquelon Lake, sampled as part of the Parks Lakes program under Alberta Environment, tends to have lower concentrations of nutrients and algae, but has experienced blooms in previous years.

River Water Quality

* River water quality data is also relatively limited in the project area, with the majority of data (and the only recent data) coming from the Battle River. Amisk Creek was sampled in 1995 and 1996 for nutrients, but had not been sampled since.
* A long term river network (LTRN) station was established at the upper end of Driedmeat Lake in 2003. This has meant consistent monthly sampling for routine and nutrient parameters, and quarterly sampling for pesticides and metals. In addition, other parameters such as personal care products have been sampled from this location.
* Both the Battle River and Amisk Creek have elevated levels of nutrients contributing to excessive algal and macrophyte (aquatic plant) growth.
* In addition, the Battle River frequently has high concentrations of fecal bacteria, and numerous pesticides and personal care products have been detected. Poor water quality is a result of low flows (resulting in increased contact time with surrounding soils) and point (industrial and municipal) and non-point (primarily agricultural) discharge to the Battle River.

Prepared by
Alberta Environment

3.1.4 Water Management Infrastructure in East Central Alberta

Note: The information contained in this Topic Area Brief does not represent the views of the Government of Alberta or any of its ministries. Information has been collected from many different sources, and is presented for information only, as background to the scenario planning workshops conducted by the East Central Alberta Cumulative Effects Project - June 2008.

Overview:

Water Management Infrastructure in the context of this discussion relates to the management of surface water only (dams, channels, outlet controls, etc). Infrastructure required to develop municipal or industrial supply (diversion, water treatment, distribution, etc) is not considered.

Water management infrastructure in Alberta dates from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Various federal, provincial and municipal governments as well as non-government agencies have taken significant roles in the management of the area’s water resources. Water management has been developed to address issues of municipal settlement, water supply, wastewater removal, agricultural development and habitat retention or rehabilitation.

History

* Drainage Districts (DD) first formed in the East Central Alberta area in 1918 (Holden DD) and 1919 (Daysland DD) under joint federal-provincial legislation, currently under Alberta Environment administration. Districts were initially formed to drain arable land to allow agricultural expansion within defined areas of the province.
* The Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration was formed in 1935 to address development and promotion of land use, water supply and settlement in agricultural areas in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
* Ducks Unlimited was formed in 1938 to address the retention and rehabilitation of wetlands and habitat areas throughout the western provinces.
* Various government departments including Alberta Environment (AENV), Alberta Transportation (AT), Alberta Sustainable Resources Development (ASRD) and Alberta Tourism, Parks and Recreation (ATPR) have also been involved in water management within the region.
* Most or all municipal authorities have been involved in the development of water management infrastructure.

Current Situation

Water management infrastructure owners currently are working together to address complex issues that impact all water users:

1) Drainage Districts

* Legislation is currently under review to determine possible alignment with other Government of Alberta water policies.
* Districts are working with other stakeholders to improve municipal water management.
* Habitat retention or rehabilitation and storm water projects are being actively pursued at Holden DD and other districts.

2) Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration (PFRA)

* All PFRA infrastructure is now operated and maintained by others, either public owners (GOA or other government agencies) or private owners (non-government agencies or private landowners).

3) Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC)

* Has many small water management projects located in the ECACEP area.
* Projects are mainly water level controls on small to medium sized wetlands or water bodies.
* New initiatives include the rehabilitation of drained wetlands as a Wetland Rehabilitation Agency.

Change factors and major initiatives

Recent issues in agriculture, habitat retention and urbanization of rural land have raised some concern with traditional use of engineered water management solutions:

* Increasing land cost, increased agricultural inputs and depressed commodity returns are reducing the need for aggressive water control projects. A return of high commodity prices could have a negative impact.
* Retirement of farmers is removing some land from production and allowing for wetland retention as well as increased urbanization.
* Wetland retention is being seen as a societal benefit and landowners are being financially compensated to retain or restore wetlands.
* DUC is working with a number of rural stakeholders to retain and rehabilitate wetlands including areas previously drained.
* Increased development in rural areas has had some effect on the type and scale of drainage projects considered. Agricultural drainage is of a lower scale and impact than drainage required to protect infrastructure (houses and other buildings). Alberta Environment has recently undertaken a review of drainage policy to determine areas of overlap or conflict between drainage district legislation and other provincial water management policy. This review is currently entering its second phase and is scheduled for completion in 2009.
* A second initiative that will impact water management infrastructure is the Land-use Framework. As drainage district legislation has an impact on land use, any change to the current land-use policy in Alberta will require some change to the drainage district legislation.

Prepared by
Alberta Environment

3.1.5 Groundwater

Note: The information contained in this Topic Area Brief does not represent the views of the Government of Alberta or any of its ministries. Information has been collected from many different sources, and is presented for information only, as background to the scenario planning workshops conducted by the East Central Alberta Cumulative Effects Project - June 2008.

About groundwater in the project area

* An aquifer can be defined as a porous and permeable geologic unit that can store and transmit water at rates fast enough to supply water wells. Aquifers occur in one of two geological settings in the project area: they can occur in the sediments that overlie the bedrock surface, or they can occur in the upper bedrock.
* The main aquifers found in sediments above the bedrock are saturated deposits of sand and gravel. They are generally less than 45 metres thick except in areas where buried bedrock valleys and meltwater channels are present, where the thickness of these sediments can exceed 60 metres. Groundwater from aquifers located in these sediments tends to have chemically hard water and a relatively high dissolved iron concentration.
* The upper bedrock includes rock units that are less than 200 metres below the bedrock surface. Some of the rock units in this zone are porous and permeable enough for the rock to be classified as an aquifer. The upper bedrock in the project area includes the Horseshoe Canyon, the Bearpaw and the Belly River Group. The groundwater from these bedrock aquifers is usually chemically soft.

Groundwater use in the project area

* There are 12 municipalities in the area that rely on groundwater for their municipal water supply.
* The majority of wells are used for domestic/livestock purposes.
* Water wells not used for household or domestic use must be licensed. The bulk of these are allotted for agricultural use such as irrigation projects, as well as some municipal and industrial purposes.
* As of May 2008, 1993 groundwater diversion licenses have been issued in the project area. Total volume of groundwater licensed for diversion is 3,948,861 cubic metres per year (m³/year).

Groundwater data available in the project area

* Hydrogeological maps are available for the entire project area, but they are dated (done in the 1970s).
* Regional groundwater assessments, prepared for Agricultural and Agri-Food Canada and the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration, are available for the counties within the project area, and last re-issued in 2001.
* At the present time, data are available from eight Alberta Environment-operated observation water wells within the project area. Baseline water chemistry is available for seven of the eight wells. Water levels are currently being monitored in only four of the eight wells.
* There is no easy way to determine the number of licensed groundwater users in the project area who are routinely monitoring their wells and dutifully submitting this monitoring information to Alberta Environment.

Prepared by
Alberta Environment

3.1.6 Watersheds

Note: The information contained in this Topic Area Brief does not represent the views of the Government of Alberta or any of its ministries. Information has been collected from many different sources, and is presented for information only, as background to the scenario planning workshops conducted by the East Central Alberta Cumulative Effects Project - June 2008.

Overview

A watershed is an area of land that drains into a river, lake, pond, ocean or other body of water. Its boundaries and speed of flow are determined by land forms such as hills, slopes and mountain ranges that direct water. Within each large watershed, there are many smaller watersheds. For example, a small creek that flows into the Vermillion River has its own watershed, but is also part of the larger Vermillion River watershed, which is part of the much larger North Saskatchewan River watershed.

Watersheds are home to a number of complex and resilient ecological processes that clean and store water and sustain life. Water is an important medium for the transportation of many nutrients vital to plant and animal life such as carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus. Water is constantly moving throughout the watershed and between watersheds in gas, liquid and solid states and carries various substances including both nutrients and pollutants.

As a result of both natural processes and human actions watersheds are continually transforming over time. These landscapes are always changing as a result of natural processes such as flooding, weathering and lake succession and human alterations such as subdivision development, agriculture, resource extraction and fertilizer runoff.

Components of a Healthy Watershed

Water Quality Health Indicators
Water Quality
  • persistence of harmful substances in surface and ground water (i.e. hazardous waste, heavy metals, fertilizers
  • quality of waste water treatment facilities
Water Quantity
  • quantity of surface water being used or diverted in comparison to the quantity of water needed to maintain important ecological functions (i.e. instream flow needs, nutrient cycles need water)
  • ground water use and availability
Water Bodies (wetlands, streams, rivers, lakes and ponds) and Riparian Areas
  • existence and size of water bodies
  • aquatic life
  • quantity and type of vegetation around water bodies
Surface Characteristics
  • existence of permeable surfaces to ensure subsurface flow to recharge areas and to filter pollutants
Drainage
  • state of infrastructure for storm water management and sewers
  • existence of storm water retention ponds and other natural areas for storing water
Vegetation
  • quantity and type of vegetation (to hold moisture and decrease water erosion)


A Watershed Approach to Cumulative Impacts

A community that is doing everything it can to maintain a clean watershed will not achieve success unless communities throughout the watershed are doing the same. For this reason, it is important that water issues are addressed at a watershed level, involving all who live, work and play in the watershed, in its management. Provincial and federal governments have identified the value of a watershed approach and are incorporating it into water policy and legislation. While it is a challenge for municipalities to adopt a watershed approach because it depends on the participation of surrounding municipalities, it is vital for the protection of local water supplies.

Water for Life - Watershed Planning and Advisory Councils

In the past, Alberta has been able to manage its water supply while maintaining a healthy aquatic environment because there has been a relatively abundant, clean supply to meet the needs of both communities and the economy. However, population and economic growth, coupled with fluctuating and unpredictable water supply in recent years, has stressed the need to make some major shifts in managing this essential resource. Water for Life is Alberta’s Strategy for better water management in the province.

A key focus of Alberta’s Water for Life Strategy is a shift to shared responsibility through a network of partnerships, the use of outcome-based approaches, and collaborative action. One example of such a partnership is a Watershed Planning and Advisory Council (WPAC). These councils are multi-stakeholder, non-profit organizations that bring sectors and communities in a watershed together to assess the condition of their watershed, to develop a plan and to coordinate activities that address watershed issues.

WPACs in East Central Alberta

The North Saskatchewan Watershed Alliance (NSWA) is a non-profit society whose purpose is to protect and improve water quality and ecosystem functioning in the North Saskatchewan River Watershed in Alberta. The organization is guided by individual members and member organizations from within the watershed. It is the designated Watershed Planning and Advisory Council (WPAC) for the North Saskatchewan River under Alberta Environment’s Water for Life Strategy. Members agree that a watershed approach in their activities and actions is a good thing. Members work with each other to generate ideas, seek solutions, develop and implement NSWA projects, and advocate the goals and objectives of the NSWA within their community.

Source: http://www.nswa.ab.ca/

The Battle River Watershed Alliance is an inclusive, collaborative and consensus-based community partnership that is working to guide, support and delivers actions to sustain or improve the health of the Battle River watershed. The Battle River Watershed Alliance seeks to achieve this through knowledgeable community participation and an adaptive approach.

Source: http://www.battleriverwatershed.ca/index.php

Prepared by
North Saskatchewan Watershed Alliance and Alberta Environment

3.2 Land Use

Note: The information contained in this Topic Area Brief does not represent the views of the Government of Alberta or any of its ministries. Information has been collected from many different sources, and is presented for information only, as background to the scenario planning workshops conducted by the East Central Alberta Cumulative Effects Project - June 2008.

Overview

* The East Central Alberta Cumulative Effects Project (ECACEP) is part of one of the most intensively cultivated and populated sub-regions of Alberta.
* In addition to being one of the most productive regions in Alberta, and dominated by agricultural development, land is developed on a number of other fronts, which include: oil & gas, coal mining and sand and gravel extraction.
* Despite a strong regulatory backbone, and reclamation consistent with equivalent land capability, increased resource development pressure has resulted in the need for a cumulative effects management framework.

History & Ecoregion Characteristics

* The ECACEP is situated predominantly within the Central Parkland Natural Subregion. The Subregion occupies an intensively cultivated and heavily populated area in Central Alberta. The region commonly encapsulates the pioneer spirit and small town rural environment that contributed to province development.
* Dominant features include cultivated lands with a mosaic of aspen and prairie vegetation, of which native vegetation comprises about 5 %, situated upon undulating till plains and hummocky uplands.
* Considered the most productive region in Alberta, Chernozemic, Solonetzic, and Luvisolic soils contribute significantly to agricultural development. Cropland covers approximately 80 % of the plains and 65 % of hummocky areas ,with the remainder commonly being grazing lands.

Current situation

* In addition to agricultural development, the region boasts a number of other resource developments, some of which include:

*
o Conventional petroleum exploration and development, including heavy oil development;

*
o Open pit coal mining; and

*
o Sand and Gravel extraction.

* Oil and gas development in the region involves approximately 9551 wellsites, 16 gas plants, 12 compressor stations, and numerous oil batteries and pipelines, of which 3187 wellsites have received reclamation certificates.
* Coal in the plains regions is mainly subbituminous (i.e., thermal coal or sometimes called brown coal), and it is suitable for power plants, domestic heating and coal-conversion process, i.e., coal gasification. A familiar domestic coal development project in the region is the Dodds Coal Mine.
* Sand and Gravel deposits are common to river valleys, terraces, and potentially overlaying coal deposits. Approximately 101 approved/registered active or reclaimed pits are located within the region. Unlike the well delineated coal deposits within the province and region, sand and gravel deposition/distribution is not as well defined.
* Other activities of regional interest include te: Dried Meat Lake Municipal Landfill, Ryley Hazardous Waste Storage Facility, Ryley Regional Landfill and the partially developed Tofield Coal Mine.

Regulatory Structure

* Alberta Environment administers the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act (EPEA) under which many land based activities are regulated and protected. Land utilized for specified industrial activities (commonly called specified land), including for example, oil and gas development, coal mining, and sand and gravel, must be developed and reclaimed in an environmentally sound manner, as further regulated by the Conservation and Reclamation Regulation.
* A central tenet to the Conservation and Reclamation regulation is the concept of Equivalent Land Capability, meaning: that the ability of the land to support various land uses after conservation and reclamation is similar to the ability that existed prior to an activity being conducted on the land, but that the individual land uses will not necessarily be identical.
* For example, the Dodds Coal Mine (a plains mine), commonly develops the coal in linear strips, and has the ability to reclaim behind itself as it progresses. Having been in operation for close to a century, the Dodds Coal Mine is largely completed and is undertaking final reclamation of the disturbance. Current plans include a golf course/recreational area.

Change factors & Major Initiatives

* Considered a priority for Alberta Environment, the cumulative effects associated with developments is being supported through the development of the cumulative effects management framework. The management system aims to set environmental objectives/desired results for environmental quality. Concurrent with this management framework development is the Land Use Framework, and renewed Water for Life Strategy.
* Regionally specific projects, under the cumulative effects framework include: the Industrial Heartland (IH) Project, and the East Central Alberta Cumulative Effects Project (ECACEP).
* Due to the high rate of economic development, population growth and overall use of natural resources, the Government of Alberta (GOA) is in the process of developing the Land Use Framework, to address a wide range of land management issues.
* In addition to cumulative effects management, biodiversity is the responsibility of the GOA, and the Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute has been developed to conduct monitoring to support natural resource decision-making by utilizing credible provincial biodiversity information.

Prepared by
Alberta Environment

3.3 Biodiversity

History & Area Characteristics:

* During the 20th Century, settlement of the area resulted in the establishment of farming communities and cultivation of the native prairie and clearing of forest lands. While these changes served as the primary engine of local rural economies, the plant and animal communities that existed at the time of settlement changed considerably.

* The Cooking Lake Provincial Forest was established in 1899 on the northwestern edge of this area, the Ministik Provincial Bird Sanctuary was established in 1911, and the Miquelon Lake Provincial Park was established on Miquelon Lake in 1958.

* Buffalo Lake is located at the south west and served as a major water source and recreation area for the residents during much of the settlement period

Current Situation:

* Much of the land has been cultivated for production of annual species such as grain and oil seeds. Much of the pasture land has been cultivated and planted with tame agronomic species.

* Some of the wetlands have also been drained for cultivation.

* Species have changed and different species are growing that were not there at the turn of the century.

* Wildlife species that are more opportunistic with settlement and residential use are more common. Some of these are considered pests in farming and residential areas, e.g. coyote.

* New interactions take the form of contestation and conflict (e.g., demands for regulation).

* The Ministik Provincial Bird Sanctuary, established in 1911, continues in effect and also provides extensive recreation.

* Beaver Hill Lake is a large shallow lake in the northern part of the area that is important for shore birds and for waterfowl staging. Lake water levels have been a concern for many years.

Forces contributing to biodiversity change:

1. Growth
Today’s rapid growth in population and economic activity is putting pressure on Alberta’s landscapes. There are competing demands for oil, gas, forestry, agriculture, industrial development, housing, and recreation - often on the same lands.

2. Invasive Alien Species
The accidental introduction of additional invasive alien species to Alberta is expected to increase as a result of growing international trade and travel. ‘Invasive alien species’ are those harmful plant, animal or insect species whose introduction or spread threatens the environment, the economy and/or society, including human health.

3. Unsustainable Use
Most species of plants and non-vertebrate animals do not receive specific management attention or legislative protection, nor necessarily need it if the unregulated use is low or has little risk of impacting populations. However, lack of management attention or legislative protection could result in the unsustainable use of some unregulated species.

4. Climate Variability
Aquatic ecosystems are likely to experience reduced water levels, warmer water temperatures, and in some cases changes in water quality (e.g., salinity changes). These changes could significantly impact aquatic and wetland species, including cold water fish populations.

5. Pollution
Harm to biodiversity can result from combination effects. Some chemicals can be concentrated through biological food webs resulting in harmful effects to top-level predators (e.g., peregrine falcon). A few synthetic chemicals have been shown to block, mimic or interfere with natural hormone production causing abnormalities in reproduction, growth and development, particularly in aquatic organisms such as fish and amphibians.

6. Cumulative Effects
The cumulative effects of habitat change, invasive alien species, over-use of biological resources, pollution, and many other less obvious stressors, may collectively result in significant and sometime irreversible impacts to biodiversity and ecosystem health.

The Government of Alberta’s recently proposed regulatory framework for managing environmental cumulative effects is designed to address this issue within the context of regional planning under the province’s proposed Land Use Framework.

Biodiversity forward: Working Landscapes

* A common misconception is that biodiversity can be adequately maintained by focusing on the designation and management of parks and protected areas, more-or-less in isolation from other lands. Although these lands play a role, such an approach by itself will not be sufficient to effectively conserve biodiversity at provincial and regional scales.
* Increasingly, it is recognized that all types of lands can and should contribute to the conservation of Alberta’s natural capital, including its biodiversity. These lands range from undeveloped wilderness, to extensive multiple use lands (e.g., managed forests on public lands), and to more intensive use lands (e.g., industrial, urban and rural residential).
* Working landscapes represent the broad spectrum of multiple use lands that support extensive activities like forestry, agriculture, recreation, and conventional oil and gas extraction. Because these landscapes represent such a high proportion of the province (>80%), they play a critical role in biodiversity conservation.
* Other important operational initiatives within working landscapes include the development and use of best (beneficial) management practices (BMPs) that encourage smarter, more efficient, and better integrated, land and resource management practices that help to reduce or lighten the land use footprint.

Prepared by
Alberta Sustainable Resource Development

3.4 Air Quality

General Background

* Alberta’s air quality is affected by many factors. One of the most common factors is weather. Because air circulates around the planet, air quality in Alberta can be affected by climate systems and natural events thousands of kilometres away.
* Many substances in the atmosphere that are considered to be pollutants have natural sources as well as human ones. For example, biological processes in the soil release nitrogen oxides (NO, NO2, N2O) and methane (CH4) into the air. Forest fires add carbon monoxide (CO) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
* Industrial emissions have a major influence on Alberta’s air quality. The development of Alberta’s vast energy resources and the burning of fossil fuels to generate electricity are important emission sources. In Alberta’s urban areas, motor vehicles can have a noticeable effect on air quality.
* Some industrial activities require an approval under the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act to operate within the province of Alberta. These industries may be required to monitor air contaminants in the environment or from point sources such as stacks. Some industries must submit monitoring reports to Alberta Environment, with requirements that vary depending on the facility.
* The Clean Air Strategic Alliance (CASA) plays a key role in protecting air quality in the province. This partnership includes industries, the Alberta Government and many other influential stakeholders. The CASA vision is that “the air will be odourless, tasteless, look clear and have no measurable short or long-term adverse effects on people, animals or the environment.”

Current Situation

There are currently five mandated industry continuous stations in the East Central Alberta area:

1. CNRL Holmberg sour gas plant - sampling 3 months/year,
2. AltaGas Sedgewick sour gas plant - sampling 2 months/year,
3. Signalta Forestburg sour gas plant - sampling 2 months/year,
4. ATCO Battle River power plant (2 stations) - sampling 12 months/year.

The three gas plants monitor for Hydrogen Sulphide (H2S) and Sulphur Dioxide (SO2) and Battle River sites monitor for Oxides of Nitrogen (NOx) and SO2.

* The data analyzed for the East Central Alberta project area to date has not triggered a need to deal with acute issues in the area.
* Although there has been some site specific data collected by Alberta Environment for East Central Alberta, the data has not yet been analyzed to provide a picture of trends or overall long term air quality in the area.
* Other agencies such as Environment Canada and Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development have collected data on air quality and weather that is available on-line.

Change factors and major initiatives

* CASA has identified the Edmonton Metropolitan Area, the Edmonton-Calgary Highway 2 Corridor, and the Calgary Metropolitan Area as regions in Alberta that have reached a level of ambient air particulate matter and ozone concentrations that require a management strategy to ensure acceptable air quality for the future. The process of developing management plans is underway in these regions. Two of these regions border the East Central Alberta project area.
* A major expansion of industry is located around the Edmonton Metropolitan area, for example the Industrial Heartlands northeast of Edmonton. Events in this area as well as potential development of the coal, mineral, and petroleum reserves in the East Central Alberta may impact future air quality in the project area.

Prepared by
Alberta Environment

Sources:
This definition is used by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific. Website: http://www.unescap.org/pdd/prs/ProjectActivities/Ongoing/gg/governance.asp. Accessed: June 2008.

The preceding information on agencies in Alberta was taken from the Government of Alberta Agency Governance Secretariat’s February 2008 report Public Agencies Governance Framework which can be found at: http://www.alberta.ca/home/documents/Governance_Framework_web_version.pdf.

C. Richard Tindal and Susan Nobes Tindal, “Local Government in Canada” (Sixth Edition), Thomson/Nelson, 2004.

3.5 Natural Capital and Ecological Goods and Services

 

Source:
Ducks Unlimited Canada: http://www.ducks.ca/conserve/wetland_values/pdf/nv1_eg.pdf

3.6 Wetlands

 

Source:
Ducks Unlimited Canada: http://www.ducks.ca/conserve/wetland_values/pdf/nv6_wet.pdf