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Friday, September 29.  3:00 - 5:00 pm

Preconference grant writing session

Dr. Lars Hallstrom

Grant writing is often viewed as a necessary evil for academics, community developers and non-governmental organizations alike. However, grant writing is also a skill that, like singing, dancing or golf, can be learned and refined through practice. Based upon 20 years of experience in writing academic, community-based, knowledge transfer and infrastructure grants, this workshop focuses on the strategies, skills and structures that help create a successful grant application. Starting from a pragmatic assessment of the benefits, and risks, and grant writing, this workshop then delves into strategies for the design, writing and managing the common pitfalls of creating a project grant. It concludes with an overview of the bureaucratic and budgetary elements of grant design and submission, followed by an open session for Q and A.

Saturday keynote.  9:45 -10:40 am

Pathways to Reconciliation

Dr. Claudine Louis

Concurrent Sessions one.  11:05 am - 12:00 pm.

An insider’s take on Olds College as a rural economic development organization

Toby Williams

What’s your first thought when you think about the role of a college? I bet you think of education and training for a job. It’s true that Olds College has some unusual and unique educational programs – like making beer, managing turfgrass, and riding horses – but we also do many other activities that can best be described as rural economic development. In this session, we’ll look at the economic impact of the College on the local community and how it meets the needs of businesses. You will learn about applied research with industry partners, contract training for companies, and the College's focus on entrepreneurship. 

Specialized Counseling Services:  A Rural Model

Judilonne Beebe

ACAA is a grassroots community organization that was created by people in rural communities of East Central Alberta. Beginning with one person’s concern in one community, ACAA has grown to serve a population base of over 93,000 people who live in a rural geographic area of about 48,000 square kilometres.

The subject of child sexual abuse is not an ordinary topic in rural coffee shops or recreational facilities. For people to be willing to face the realization that child sexual abuse happens in their small community is hard to take in. It may seem unreal that people in conservative rural communities would support, develop and operate specialized child sexual abuse treatment programs in their community.

This miracle happened in East Central Alberta. Creating this program was a challenge and keeping it going is a challenge, but 27 years later we continue to provide services to clients within this region. I will discuss our rural model of providing services and explain the benefits and drawbacks of this type of service delivery.

New Tools to Assess the Cumulative Environmental, Community and Health Impacts of Resource Development 

Dr. Chris Buse

Canada’s resource-dependent communities are increasingly challenged to reconcile the need for meaningful economic development opportunities with environmental stewardship, the management of changing sociocultural conditions during times of boom and bust, and mitigating health impacts from a variety of direct and indirect biophysical exposures and social determinants. However, there are relatively few tools that integrate environmental, community and health information to account for the past, present and future impacts of resource development. This is further complicated by the fact that many rural communities across Canada and the world are often cumulatively impacted by multiple forms of resource development (e.g. oil and gas, agriculture, forestry, mining, renewables). This presentation explores the cumulative impacts of multiple resource industries across northern BC, reporting on the development of new cumulative impact assessment tools capable of integrating health, environment and community data. Based on two years of research (including knowledge synthesis, expert consultations, community dialogues and participatory action research projects) led by UNBC’s Cumulative Impacts Research Consortium, two innovative tools for unpacking the complexity of cumulative impacts of resource development.  The “data-driven story-telling approach” and “integrated values mapping” techniques are presented as techniques for cumulative impact assessment which can both quantify and qualify risks and impacts to resource-dependent communities over time and across geographic contexts.  The implications for sustainable land-use decision-making in light of these tools are discussed.

Enhancing Broadband Connectivity in Alberta

Dr. Michael McNally

Increasingly connectivity is essential for vibrant communities in the 21st century.  Despite the importance of broadband, many rural communities face challenges in developing broadband infrastructure, while at the same time other communities, including Olds, have become national leaders.  This presentation provides an overview of some of the key benefits of broadband and discusses the various economic and financial models used across the province by communities to enhance connectivity.  The presentation will also highlight some key initiatives from across the province demonstrating the range of ways Alberta communities are enhancing their communities, and also discusses Understanding Community Broadband: The Alberta Broadband Toolkit – a resource to assist communities in developing their own broadband solutions.

Concurrent Sessions two.  12:05 - 1:00 pm

Science, Who Needs It?!  Bridging the Gap between Knowledge and Park Management in a Social Science Framework

Joyce Gould

Parks Division, Alberta Environment and Parks manages a suite of parks and protected areas in Alberta. There are however, significant gaps in information both for the sites and the people that value and use them.  In attempt to address these information gaps, Parks Division developed a Science Strategy to help foster collaborations with the research community in support of decision-making. Given the evident gap in knowledge, surveys of staff, researchers and others, and a series of complimentary workshops were undertaken to prioritize research and knowledge needs.  Within the needs that were identified through this process, the majority of were related to human dimensions. As a result, we developed a Social Science Framework to bridge the gap between conducting and facilitating research focused on the social sciences and park management. The Framework outlines a process for communication of park management needs and research. This presentation will showcase the Social Science Framework and how Parks Division is trying to bring more research into park decision making and management.

Working with Rural Volunteers to Improve the Quality of Life of Older Persons

Dr. Wendy Duggleby

Assisting the frail rural elderly to age in place is essential to their quality of life.  An innovative way to assist older adults to age in place is to provide navigation services where a knowledgeable individual advocates, facilitates community connections, facilitates access to services and resources, and promotes active engagement of older adults.   In Camrose, Killiam and Olds Alberta, volunteers trained in navigation, provide navigation services to older adults through a project entitled Navigation: Connecting, Accessing, Resourcing and Engaging (NCARE© Pesut/Duggleby).  Volunteers met regularly with a healthcare navigator for purposes of debriefing and ongoing education. Preliminary findings from NCARE projects indicated that volunteer navigator partnerships can enhance the quality of life of older adults and family living with advanced chronic illness while providing a satisfying and meaningful role for volunteers.  The purpose of this presentation is to provide an overview of the development of NCARE, the preliminary findings from Camrose, Kiliam and Olds communities, and to discuss how It may be implemented in other communities in Alberta. 

Environment, Community, Health Observatory Network: Strengthening Intersectoral Capacity to Understand and Respond to Health Impacts of Resource Development

Dr. Margot Parkes

In May 2017, university researchers and research partners from across Canada and internationally, came together to launch The Environment, Community, Health Observatory (ECHO) Network, a 5-year research program, funded by a CIHR Team Grant, focused on working together across sectors to strengthening intersectoral capacity to understand and respond to the cumulative health, environment and community impacts of resource development.  This presentation will introduce key features of the ECHO project, including early insights arising from the launch meeting that are informing the co-design of this complex network consisting of a different sectors, disciplines and communities, and drawing on expertise across the health, social and natural sciences. Specific attention will be given to the suite of “integrative tools and processes” that are being developed, refined and applied within four regional cases, informed by partnerships with Northern Health and the First Nations Health Authority in BC, Battle River Watershed Alliance in AB, the New Brunswick Environmental Network and the Canadian Wildlife Health Consortium. Discussion will focus on features of “learning community” that is being developed by the ECHO Network to optimise sharing and exchange, so that local, regional and international partners are better equipped to address the combined health, environment and community impacts associated with resource development. 

Solar and the Utility Company: Looking for Sunny Solutions

Scott Merrifield and Matt Wright

When considering the electrical needs of customers in rural Alberta, the utility company is poised to ensure the best energy solution is employed to meet electrical demand. As advancements in solar technology and battery storage become more efficient and feasible, harnessing the power from the sun is taking on numerous shapes. Here are few ways that ATCO is helping customers tap into this growing business in Alberta.

Discussion items:

  • Off grid solar solutions

  • Offsetting diesel fuel generation for remote communities

  • Community buildings

  • EV Charging Stations

Concurrent Sessions three.  2:10 - 3:05 pm

Living with Rivers: Flood Management in Alberta

Seth Bryant

Many communities across Alberta face substantial flood risk. Planning for, and managing this risk requires
difficult decisions that balance community values through floodplain land-use, infrastructure investment, and
residual flood-risk. Fortunately, following the 2013 floods, the Province developed a new Alberta-specific tool
to help inform such investment decisions, and quantify the existing riverine flood-risk.

This workshop will provide an overview of the flood risk assessment process, the new provincial tool, and why
community stakeholders and planners should care. An interactive portion will engage participants to
understand fundamental risk management topics. The session will close with a presentation on the limitations
of current flood risk assessment practices and future research directions. At the end of the session, attendees
will understand how Albertan communities can make informed investment decisions to reduce flood risk.

Why Would Youth Want to Live Here? Beaver County's Approach to Engaging Rural Youth 

Tracey Boast-Radley and Dr. Lars Hallstrom

The Beaver County Youth Engagement Strategy project was a two year research project conducted by the Alberta Centre for Sustainable Rural Communities in partnership with both FCSS organizations in the County, and Alberta Health Services. The purpose of the project was to provide the basis for policy makers and youth programmers in Beaver County, Tofield, Ryley, Holden and Viking to make evidence-based decisions to improve youth engagement, volunteerism, and employability, with an overarching long-term goal of improving youth retention in the region.  This presentation will cover the  overarching logic model of the project, the underlying results of youth engagement from an asset-based standpoint, the subsequent development of the strategy and how it is being utilized in the County, FCSS and other stakeholders.

Finding Value in Community-University Research Relationships

Dr. Ryan Bullock

Academic institutions, governments and funding agencies frequently emphasize community-university partnerships and the mutual benefits that such collaborations promise. Experience with community-based research points to some common interests that may provide a base for engagement, but also several potential mismatches that must be addressed to ensure that community-university partnerships are respectful, productive, and lasting. People and organizations face varying realities linked to their roles and responsibilities. Different incentives, organizational structures and processes, capacity levels, information needs, rules, priorities, and indeed cultures are but a few of the factors that need to be considered when pursuing and designing effective community-university partnerships. This presentation will explore these considerations and provide clear examples of the benefits and challenges associated with community-university partnerships. Recommendations for practice will be offered to support practitioners and researchers in building partnerships that achieve mutually desirable outcomes.

Farmland Conservation and Fragmentation:  Where, Why, What Next?

Dr. Brent Swallow

Fragmentation and conversion of Alberta’s agricultural land is concerning to farmers, environmentalists, planners, policy makers and the general public.  The Alberta Land Stewardship Act (ALSA) of 2009 and the Modernized Municipal Government Act of 2016 mandate municipal governments to protect prime farmland and coordinate development with neighbouring municipalities.  

Research conducted by a team of UofA researchers through the Alberta Land Institute has led to new insights into farmland fragmentation and conversion to developed uses.  Analysis of land cover data from satellite images shows that the areas around Edmonton and Calgary and the Corridor between the two cities is most affected by conversion and that the rate of conversion was higher in 1984-92 than in any subsequent period.  Farmlands have become more fragmented in the Corridor, but less fragmented for the province as a whole.  Conversion to developed uses in the Corridor between was positively related to population growth, price of agricultural land, road density and degree of fragmentation, and negatively related to land suitability.  Nonetheless, most of the land converted during the 2000 to 2012 period was high quality farmland.  Current research is focusing on the role of municipal governments in fostering or constraining farmland conversion and fragmentation.  Case studies in different parts of the province are considering the pressures faced by rural municipalities to balance the imperatives to conserve farmland, provide high quality public services, grow their tax base, and respond to requests for re-designation of farmland into rural residential or commercial uses.  

Concurrent Sessions four.  3:10 - 4:05 pm

Food:  Locally Embedded, Globally Engaged

Dr. Mary Beckie

As the sustainability of the globalized food system continues to be examined and challenged, there is growing interest and support for strengthening the role of more local or regionally-focused agri-food initiatives. In 2015 a 5-year, federally funded research program was launched in Canada to investigate and support local food initiatives that generate economic, social and environmental benefits, and contribute to the development of regional food systems. This presentation will provide an overview of the university-community partnership that has formed under FLEdGE – Food: Locally Embedded, Globally Engaged – and the themes of integration, scaling up and out, and innovative governance that frame this research. Current research projects taking place in the provinces of Alberta and British Columbia, which comprise the western Canadian node of FLEdGE, will be described. These include investigations of institutional procurement, local food policy, bioregional food system assessment, and network development.

Gender Differences in Municipal Elections Candidates

Cory Habulin

With municipal elections about to take place across Alberta this October, Alberta Status of Women commissioned a small research project to analyze the municipal election data for the province since 2004 to look at the differences between men and women candidates. Currently, women hold an average of 26% of elected seats in municipal politics across the province. The United Nations has found women should hold at least 30% of elected seats for a government to reflect women’s concerns. Leadership groups with a diversity of opinions, backgrounds and lived experiences help to make better decisions. From a governance perspective, municipal councils are great ways of directly shaping a community, as municipalities are responsible for a wide range of services, policies and programs. Having more women means councils discuss more viewpoints. By hearing different voices and adopting different approaches, we can have more innovative and responsive decision-making. Municipal councils work to improve residents' quality of life. They do so best by considering how their decisions affect different groups. A diverse council means a group of people who reflect the community are making these decisions. It is important that information about the gender differences in municipal elections is available to Albertans, as we aim for diverse and representative councils in our communities. We will present on the differences for men and women running for election, when and where they are elected, how long they serve, and how these things vary across the province. There will be time for discussion and to interact with dynamic data tables built from this analysis.

Welcoming Communities: The Resettlement and Integration of Syrian Refugees in Rural Canada

Stacey Haugen

Within the context of a global refugee crisis and Canada’s commitment to resettle thousands of Syrian refugees, many diverse, rural communities across the country have welcomed refugees into their neighbourhoods mainly through the Private Sponsorship and Government Blended Visa Office-Referred (BVOR) Programs. Generously giving their time and resources, rural sponsors are capturing the unique social, economic and cultural opportunities of their communities through refugee resettlement. News stories from small communities speak of resettled refugee families being welcomed, finding work, and feeling at home in close-knit rural communities. Yet, despite the growing number of refugees being resettled outside of major Canadian cities, little research has been done on the benefits, and challenges, of refugee integration in rural Canada.


Addressing this knowledge gap, this project argues that rural places are communities of opportunity which can benefit from refugee resettlement. For example, refugee resettlement can be beneficial for both rural communities and refugees, as rural communities benefit from a boost in population and increased diversity and Syrian refugees benefit from the enhanced social capital and housing/living affordability options that such places offer. Travelling across Canada, I asked rural community sponsors, resettled refugees, immigration experts and policy makers about their experiences of rural resettlement and argue that rural communities are being under-utilized as sites for the resettlement, and successful integration, of refugees in Canada.

Alberta Economic Development

Dawna Allard

The Government of Alberta fosters sustainable economic growth throughout the province by actively engaging with small business, entrepreneurs, industry and communities across Alberta on economic development initiatives.

Panel 4:35 - 5:35 pm

Beer and Beyond: Entrepreneurship and Community Development via Microbreweries

Chris Heier, David Claveau, Shane Groendahl

Rural microbreweries are about far more than appetizing ales, irresistible IPAs and sumptuous stouts, they are a piece of rural economic and community development.  Panelists will discuss the history of their breweries, the community response to their establishment, and the benefits and risks to operating in a rural community.  The role of, and vision for, microbreweries in rural economic and community development will be considered.

Sunday keynote.  9:00 - 10:00 am

Reconciliation Where it Matters: Resetting Relations in Rural Alberta

Dr. Roger Epp

In many rural places, Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples live in adjacent communities, or the same community, though relations between them have often been marked by tensions, fears, and solitudes. While the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Final Report and Calls to Action (2015) affirmed that the work of building respectful relations – “a new way of living together” – belonged to all Canadians, and while national and provincial governments have affirmed reconciliation as a policy priority, at least rhetorically, rural communities have been relatively silent. My argument is that the most meaningful, most urgent, and most difficult work of reconciliation must be done at a local level, particularly in rural places. What would it mean to embrace the Calls to Action, to be “unsettled,” and to risk a new way?

Concurrent Sessions one.  10:10 - 11:05 am

Citizens Engaging Citizens: the story of Devon's Voyageur Park

Kristin Walsh

Never one to follow a path well-trodden, Kristin used years of learning, trial and error, research and an unshakeable belief in the process to bring a new and inspiring method of community building to the Town of Devon which has resulted in an innovative and unusual (for North America) plan. This session will focus on the community development approach used, key lessons learned, community and professional perspectives and the take-away lessons of the community building approach to improving Devon's Voyageur Park.

From the Ground Up: Strategic Collaboration and Partnerships

Colleen Lindholm and Jonathan Koch

The Rural Health Professions Action Plan (RhPAP) focuses a large part of its work on supporting the attraction and retention of health care professionals to rural Alberta communities.  Over 20 years of experience gives RhPAP a comprehensive toolkit of best and promising practices that result in success stories in a growing number of Alberta’s rural communities.  Collaboration with Alberta Health Services (AHS) to support the attraction-recruitment-retention continuum aims to strengthen this community based work.


Enhancement of rural community capacity to actively engage in the successful attraction and retention of health care professionals is a significant focus of RhPAP’s work.  The coordination of RhPAP’s work with AHS processes is critical to achieve what is underway at multiple levels.


RhPAP will offer an interactive session which reviews what has shaped RhPAP’s community support work over the years, considers strategic collaboration with AHS to have the greatest impact, and explores how best communities can play an active part in the successful attraction and retention of rural health care professionals.  The integral role of coordinated communications in sharing the rural voice will also be discussed.

Engaging Your Community For Tourism and The Olds Experience

Noel Ma and Mitch Thomson

Tourism is more than just an industry sector, it is an economic driver made up of an “industry of industries” from accommodations, to food and beverage, to attractions.  The Destination Development Unit of Alberta Culture and Tourism works with municipalities and not-for-profit organizations to develop, grow, and enhance attractions and experiences in support of destination diversification through our many programs, resources and tools.


Through programs such as the Visitor Friendly Alberta program, conversations can be initiated and recommendations can be made on improving a community’s “visitor friendliness” for visitors. Come and learn more about how your community can work together on building tourism opportunities.

Cumulative Impacts of Resource Development across Time and Space: Exploring the Practical Implications of the Integration Imperative

Dr. Margot Parkes and Dr. Chris Buse

The “integration imperative” arising from the cumulative impacts of resource development is gaining increased attention for a range of reasons especially relevant to rural communities. Not only is there a growing need to address combined environmental, community and health impacts, but also rising concern for how to manage the interactions of multiple resource developments across space and time. This presentation explores key ‘ideas’ associated with cumulative impacts of resource development in the context of two applied projects: The Environment, Community, Health Observatory (ECHO) Network, and the Cumulative Impacts Research Consortium in BC. Specifically, we share examples of practical, intersectoral tools and processes being piloted across resource dependent regions of BC that explicitly engage with the concept of cumulative impacts, and demonstrate how this work is being scaled up and adapted to other Canadian contexts that are part of an international learning community (i.e. the ECHO). We discuss specific intersectoral challenges and opportunities that arise when the impacts of resource development cross spatial and temporal scales, and highlight how the cross-fertilisation of ideas with research partners can begin to address and integrate the cumulative environmental, community and health impacts of resource development.

Concurrent Sessions two.  11:40 am - 12:35 pm

Emissions Reduction Potential from micro Combined Heat and Power

Ed Cullinan

Introduction.  Alberta is seeking to drastically reduce emissions associated with electricity generation by 2030. By using renewable energy and clean burning natural gas to generate electricity at the site where it is required, distributed generation produces lower emissions compared to conventional grid power. Moreover, emissions due to overproduction of electricity to offset transmission losses are avoided.

Objective.  ATCO has partnered with Aisin Seiki Co., Ltd. to pilot the 1.5kW Coremo natural gas fired micro combined heat and power (mCHP) system in Alberta. The mCHP system uses a natural gas internal combustion engine to produce electricity while simultaneously capturing waste heat to be used domestically, resulting in an overall efficiency of 90%. ATCO sought to quantify the emissions reduction potential of this natural gas fired mCHP technology.

Conclusion.  Emissions reduction potential of upwards of 30% can be achieved with a mCHP system through a retrofit on an average Albertan home. Applying the mCHP technology to ATCO’s 1.1 million residential customers could reduce emissions by more than 3.7 million tonnes of CO2 per year. Integrating mCHP with solar PV can further increase the emissions reduction potential. Such a system with battery storage can increase the emissions reduction potential even further while increasing the resiliency of the homes.

Hunting and Rural Economic Development, Taber Pheasant Festival Case Study

Todd Zimmerling

Taber Pheasant Festival is a week-long hunting festival held each October in the M.D. of Taber. The event attracts 800 hunters from Alberta and beyond, and involves more than 60 event partners and sponsors. What started seven years ago as a means to build bridges between hunters and rural communities has become a catalyst for habitat conservation and economic benefit. Two years ago, Alberta’s tourism industry recognized the value of the festival with an ALTO Award in Outstanding Sustainable Tourism. This session also looks beyond the festival to the broader contributions of hunting and hunters to Alberta.

Preparing for Change

Chris Warwick, Jordan Christianson, Tara de Weerd

This presentation will provide an overview of what has transpired since the announcement of the Climate Leadership Plan.  Over the last one and a half years, the Hanna Climate Change Strategy Taskforce has advocated on the community’s behalf to the Government of Alberta regarding the impacts of the coal transition and the importance of immediate action towards economic diversification.  The Taskforce commissioned an Impact Study and an Asset Mapping & Opportunities Study, which were both completed in 2017.   The Impact Study’s purpose is to bring the Government of Alberta up to speed on the importance of coal power generation in the community, from corporate citizenship, community support, to employment.  The Asset Mapping and Opportunities Study considers industry and consumer trends, community assets, and community values in suggesting opportunities for economic diversification. 

 Alberta Health Services promoting the health of communities through Walkability and Healthy Community by Design

David Crowe and Graham Matsalla

The way communities are designed is vitally important to health and well-being.   Factors such as the walkability of a community can have far reaching health, social and economic benefits.  The presenters will provide background on the importance of chronic disease prevention, introduce the WalkABle Alberta program, and discuss efforts by the Safe and Healthy Environments group to work with communities in supporting healthy community design initiatives.