Alberta Real Estate Foundation gift supports healthier homes and communities

Looking forward to pandemic recovery, an online toolkit will help Albertans identify healthy and resilient communities in which to live.

What if alongside granite countertops and big windows we considered walkability, environmental impact and social connectedness as equally important factors when searching for a new home?  

Thanks to a grant from the Alberta Real Estate Foundation (AREF), the School of Public Health’s Centre for Healthy Communities (CHC) will develop a new vision in collaboration with the real estate and development sector that will take an upstream approach to health by maximizing housing and development opportunities that contribute to community health and resiliency.

With its mandate to invest in real estate policy, research, practices and education that strengthens Alberta’s communities, the Alberta Real Estate Foundation is the ideal partner to achieve this.

“The engagement process and unique tool will enhance the understanding of both real estate industry members and the public about the complex connections between home, community and health,” said Doug Leighton, chair of the Alberta Real Estate Foundation. “Ultimately we hope it will support Alberta’s recovery and resilience. The tool will be accessible to Albertans and will serve realtors in helping their clients make informed decisions.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic and related public health measures have highlighted a need to better understand how we conceptualize and act on ‘healthy communities’ and ‘healthy homes’, especially given the economic uncertainty and environmental stewardship needs facing our province and country,” said Candace Nykiforuk, director of the centre and associate dean (research and research programs).

The CHC research team will engage stakeholders across Alberta in regional workshops and together they will identify critical ‘healthy home’ and ‘healthy community’ factors. CHC will then compile evidence related to those factors to be used to develop an online Toolkit for Healthy Communities

Public health measures that have kept Albertans at home have drawn our attention to how important our homes, neighbourhoods and communities are to our health, well-being and quality of life.  Given this, many will now make housing decisions with new questions and ideas of what makes a home or community desirable. 

“We know that consumers already weigh their housing choices around economic value and quality of community. There is an opportunity to redefine the assets that contribute to health, sustainability and wellness that exist in a neighbourhood and help consumers improve their health through their housing and community choices,” explained Nykiforuk.  

“Through this gift we will expand these criteria to include the drivers of health that are within the real estate domain and create a toolkit that can directly support home buyers’ healthy home decision-making and municipalities’ decisions about future developments.” 

The toolkit will also benefit real estate professionals in considering and communicating healthy options to clients. Municipal planners and developers will find it useful to support residential and land-use decisions that incorporate opportunities that support aging in place, social connectedness, economic diversification, mixed land use and environmental stewardship. 

Another intent of the funding is to bolster engagement and conversations between these different stakeholders. The result will provide locally relevant evidence and foster a collective understanding and appreciation for the impact of critical healthy home and healthy community factors. 

This project is made possible thanks to a grant from the Alberta Real Estate Foundation. The Alberta Real Estate Foundation invests in real estate policy, research, practices, and education that strengthen Alberta’s communities. The Foundation’s revenues come from the interest earned on public money deposited in real estate brokers’ pooled trust accounts. Learn more at


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