About Community Conserve

How does Community Conserve work?

Community Conserve is a web site and a research team. On the web site, municipal personnel submit their environmental and conservation concerns and ideas as individuals, and then prioritize them as a community of municipalities. The research team then proposes Project Plans to address the top issues/ideas, and facilitates the process of crowd-funding those projects. All project results are made available to all municipalities.

The process has three steps:

Want more detail on how Community Conserve works?
Click on any topic under “The Basics” below, or dig deeper with “A Little More Detail”, or for a different take, check out the “Frequently Asked Questions.”



How does Community Conserve work?


Identifying the issues/ideas

A staff member, manager or councilor goes to the Community Conserve web site and posts a conservation ‘dilemma’ that their municipality is facing.

Any other staff member, manager or councilor from any Alberta municipality can visit the site and ‘vote’ on existing posts – in effect saying, “Yes, that is an issue for my municipality, too!”

Making a Project Plan

The Community Conserve team takes each top issue, and creates a plan of action (a Project Plan) that can help all municipalities facing that dilemma. This might be creation of a tool, a template policy, a targeted piece of research on a specific question, a practices guide, a resource list … etc.

The proposed Project Plan is posted back on the site with a work plan, a budget, a timeline, and a description of who would undertake the work.

Funding a Project plan


Municipalities interested in funding that project contact the Community Conserve team, and their interest is posted on the site. This would include the municipality’s name and the portion of the project they are willing to fund, or just their expression of interest.

Once full funding is achieved, the organization doing the work will meet with the contributing municipalities to get input on the details of the plan (e.g., more specifics on the issue, identification of potential case studies, key contacts, etc.).

Distributing Results from Completed Projects


When the project is complete, the results are posted back on the Community Conserve site so that all municipalities have access to the results.

Those who register to ‘follow’ Community Conserve receive automatic updates when new results are available.

How do you get involved?


Submit an environment or conservation issue / idea


  • Post a brief description of an environment or conservation issue or idea that your municipality is facing/considering and which you think others might be too.
  • These are submitted anonymously and go through a moderation process before they appear on the Community Conserve site.

Vote on issues/ideas


  • Review the list of existing environment and conservation issues/ideas, and click on any of them to indicate that you think this is relevant to your municipality, too.
  • There is no obligation to provide funding at this point.

Sign up for updates


  • Enter your email in the box below to receive updates on issues, ideas, and projects.
  • You will then be notified automatically by email of any new issues/ideas that are posted, proposed project plans that have been posted, and project products/results that are posted.

Fund proposed Project Plans


  • Proposed Project Plans will be posted in response to the most common issues (those with the most votes); if one looks like it will address an issue for your municipality, indicate your willingness to financially support the proposed plan if you can.
  • Your ‘expression of interest’ message will be sent to the Community Conserve team, and you will be contacted to discuss what your contribution might look like.

Join a project team


  • Project proposals will have details that need to be determined, and contributing municipalities will be invited to join the project team to work these out (though there is no obligation to do so).

Who is the Community Conserve team?


The Community Conserve team is made up of representatives of two research-capable environmental charities (the Miistakis Institute and the Environmental Law Centre), and the two municipal member associations (Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties and the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association).

These four organizations collectively manage Community Conserve. The Miistakis Institute and the Environmental Law Centre provide the environmental research and management capacity, and the AAMDC and the AUMA provide the interface with Alberta’s municipalities, ensuring municipal perspectives are properly represented in the action plans.

All four organizations are involved in moderating environmental conservation issues and in developing/reviewing action plan proposals.




Posting and Voting on Issues and Ideas


What is an environment and conservation issue or idea?


Every municipality has environmentally important features in their community, and every municipality makes efforts to one degree or another to maintain them. A complex array of regulatory requirements, policy tools, and implementation tools are theoretically available to help with both the “must-do’s” and the “wish-we-could-do’s”.

From planning processes to water-cooler discussions, questions can arise about the dilemmas involved in managing and conserving these environmental assets. Those questions are “environmental conservation issues” and the “wish we could do that” thoughts are the ideas. They might look like this:
— Is there is a tool for conserving [X]
— Our municipality is losing [X environmental feature]
— Our environmental assessment process is lacking [X]
— Can an ASP be designed so that it maintains [X]
— A policy for [X] would be really valuable
Etc. etc. ….

How do people post conservation issues/ideas?


  • To post an environmental conservation issue/idea, go onto the Issues and Ideas page, and click the Submit an Issue/idea button.
  • Enter your issue description in a line or two (the shorter the better), and click submit.
  • A pop-up will ask you to enter some basic information about you, so we can contact you if we need clarification regarding your submission. However, once poste on the site it will be anonymous.
  • Your ‘issue’ will go to the Community Conserve team to ensure its appropriateness for the program, and then posted if it is a fit (this is the moderation step).
Some tips:

  • Put the question in terms that another municipality could relate to (remember it only rises to the top if multiple municipalities vote for it)
  • Some dilemmas will be specific, some will be general – that’s okay.
  • Don’t overthink it – the question or idea you have is the right question.
  • It does not need to be a suggested way forward – you only need to identify the dilemma, and see if other municipalities are facing the same thing.
  • You can contact us if you want some advice on the posting first.


How do people vote on issues/ideas?


  • To vote on an environment or conservation issue/idea, go onto the Community Conserve landing page, and click on any of the issues/ideas listed there.
  • Note that you are only voting for, not against, conservation issues/ideas; low-priority issues will naturally fall to the bottom.


Some voting etiquette:

  • Please just vote once for each environmental conservation issue (we can filter out multiple votes from one person, but it is a time-consuming process)
  • Voting is individual – other people within your municipality can vote with their own preferences.
  • Even though this is not a commitment to fund at this point, try to limit your votes to those that you could see your municipality possibly funding at even a modest level.


Who can vote?


  • Anyone who works for or on behalf of an Alberta municipality can ‘vote’. Each person can vote for each issue/idea only once (but you can certainly contact colleagues and ask them to vote).
  • When it comes to the financial commitment, only people with the authority to commit funding should contact us (i.e., don’t click to fund a project if you are not authorized to spend money for your municipality).

How are voting results shown?


  • Each environment and conservation issue/idea has a number below it indicating the number of votes it has received.
  • The list of environmental conservation issues/ideas will automatically adjust to place the issues with the most votes at the top.

When does voting end?


  • Voting continues until a threshold number of votes is received. At that point, the project plan is made available for crowd-funding.


Crowd-funding a Project


How do municipalities ‘fund’ a project plan?


  • When a project plan secures a threshold number of votes, it moves to the Fund a Project page.
  • Municipalities potentially interested in contributing to a project shown on the Fund a Project page can fill in the form with it, and click the submit button; an email message is then sent to the Community Conserve team.
  • The Community Conserve team contacts that person to answer questions about potential funding, work out details of a commitment, and establish a grant agreement if appropriate.

How do you know if a project is fully funded?


  • Each project on the Fund a Project page lists the committed funders (by municipality name), and the amount they will provide. This list will also include cases where a municipality expresses a commitment to fund, but the amount is unknown.

What do you ‘get’ for funding?


  • Although the ultimate results and products are available to everyone, only contributing municipalities are invited to join the project team. This team finalizes the details of the project plan, helping determine specific focus, case studies, and any other ‘fork-in-the-road’ decisions.

Where does the funding go?


  • The funding ultimately goes to whomever is actually undertaking the project work (they are identified at the outset in the proposed project plan). Community Conserve will use a standard grant agreement for each contributing municipality. This agreement will identify their commitment, and the project plan will be attached as an appendix to the agreement.
  • Ten percent (10%) of each project budget goes back into the overarching Community Conserve project, to support its ongoing operation.

Who ‘owns’ the resulting products/results?


  • The resulting products and information will be available, free of charge, to everyone.
  • Users of the products/results will be bound by a Creative Commons license which allows them unlimited use, but prevents them from commercializing the products/results.

Completed Projects and Results


Completed projects


  • A Community Conserve project may result in reports, templates, tools, web sites, resource lists, or other outputs, as well as contact information in case you want more details.
  • All of these are downloadable on the Completed Projects page free of charge.

Current projects


  • Updates on projects currently underway include brief narrative updates, interim products, as well as information on participating municipalities, and contact information for project personnel.

Terms of Use


  • All completed projects are available to anyone interested, subject to a Creative Commons license of use.
  • Municipalities are free to use this information without limitation, but cannot commercialize it.
  • The intellectual property is retained jointly by the body who undertook the work and the Community Conserve team.




The Community Conserve team includes

A collaboration made possible with support from:

Max Bell Foundation
An Anonymous Foundation