Ecological Connectivity – Modelling, Planning and Municipalities

 

Ecological Connectivity – Modelling, Planning and Municipalities

Three guides to help to clear some of the cloudiness around ecological connectivity and municipal planning

The Issue / Idea

Municipalities face challenges in finding practical guidance for integrating ecological connectivity into the structures and practical realities of municipal planning.

The Project

Every municipal planning department in the Calgary region has faced the challenge of addressing ecological connectivity.

It can start from a variety of directions – open house feedback, a councilor request, a regional planning requirement, etc. It can carry many labels: wildlife corridors, linkage zones, structural and functional connectivity. However, two things are common to all of these cases. First, it is always based on the notion that species need to move to stay healthy and viable. Second, what a municipal planner can or should do about this is not clear.

As part of the Calgary Regional Partnership’s Ecological Conservation and Protection Initiative, Miistakis created three guides to help to clear some of the cloudiness around ecological connectivity and municipal planning.

As well as supporting municipal planners, these guides are intended to help those working with planners or who are affected by municipal plans. Understanding the way ecological connectivity is viewed through the lens of municipal planning will help others (including municipal councilors, wildlife biologists, conservation groups, land developers and builders) better understand the decisions and options that emerge in the planning realm.

Planning to Connect: A guide to provide clarity on what ecological connectivity might mean for a municipality, which plans and policies to target, and how. It also includes a searchable catalogue of example clauses from other jurisdictions and a document library of sample plans, reports, strategies, and cases from which to learn

Pulling the Levers: A Guide to Modelling and Mapping Ecological Connectivity outlines how the science can be used to give municipalities map-based illustrations of ecological connectivity.

Connecting the Dots: A Guide to Using Ecological Connectivity Modeling in Municipal Planning outlines how planners can acquire and use that information to address planning questions, working in partnership with their GIS staff or consultants.


Planning to Connect: A Guide to Incorporating Ecological Connectivity into Municipal Planning

Policy Clause Catalogue

Pulling the Levers: A Guide to Modelling and Mapping Ecological Connectivity

Connecting the Dots: A Guide to Using Ecological Connectivity Modeling in Municipal Planning

Organization

This project was undertaken by

The Miistakis Institute

Status

Completed in

2019

Supporters

Woodcock Foundation

Municipal Conservation Easement Program

 

Municipal Conservation Easement Program

A Guide to help municipalities create a conservation easement program

The Issue / Idea

How can municipalities help landowners conserve their land for the future by using a conservation easement?

The Project

Flagstaff County in east-central Alberta has been working towards better protecting the valuable landscapes within its communities. After being approached by a local landowner about granting a conservation easement to the County, Flagstaff approached Miistakis about helping them establish a Conservation Easement program (municipalities are ‘qualified organizations’ under the Alberta Land Stewardship Act, eligible to hold conservation easements).

Working with the County’s Agricultural Service Board, Miistakis helped them draft a conservation easement bylaw, and tailor the policy to their draft Municipal Development Plan.

Once the decision was made to go ahead with implementation, Miistakis worked with the County to identify the conservation goals, and specific administrative needs. Miistakis then developed several implementation resources including a program procedures manual, a conservation easement template, a Baseline Documentation Report manual and template, a monitoring template, and several other templates and resources.

Flagstaff County is now moving ahead to negotiate conservation easements with interested ratepayers in their community.


Flagstaff County Conservation Easement Program: Procedures Manual

Flagstaff County Conservation Easement Program: Conservation Easement Checklists

Organization

This project was undertaken by

The Miistakis Institute

Status

Completed in

2017

Supporters

Flagstaff County

Transfer of Development Credits

 

Transfer of Development Credits

A tool to help communities deal with rapid conversion of their valued landscapes, while simultaneously promoting appropriate landscape development

The Issue / Idea

How can municipalities deal with the rapid conversion of their valued landscapes, while simultaneously promoting appropriate landscape development?

The Project

The Transfer of Development Credits (TDC) tool is designed to help communities deal with the rapid conversion of their valued landscapes, while simultaneously promoting appropriate landscape development. The tool allows for the transfer of development potential from areas less suited to development (based on a community desire to see its character and function maintained), to areas more suited to increased development (based on their capacity to accept greater development activity).

The TDC website was developed as a resource for Alberta communities, to assist them in better understanding what a TDC program is, and how it can be used to conserve valued landscapes.


A Practical Guide to Transfer of Development Credits (TDCs) in Alberta

 

Organization

This project was undertaken by

Miistakis Institute

Status

Completed in

2013

Supporters

Alberta Real Estate Foundation

Anonymous Donor

Managing Recreation on Public Land: How Does Alberta Compare?

 

Managing Recreation on Public Land: How Does Alberta Compare?

This review by the Environmental Law Centre (ELC) compares the legal framework for recreation management in Alberta to other Canadian provinces and US jurisdictions

The Issue / Idea

How does Alberta regulate recreational impacts on the landscape? How does it compare to other jurisdictions? What challenges does it face in regulating recreational impacts on land and how might we go about it in the future?

The Project

Recreational use of public land in Alberta is creating significant management challenges as the demands for recreational opportunities and the impacts of recreational activity are increasing together. These challenges are shared by many western jurisdictions and have intensified in recent decades due to increases in motorized recreation. This review by the Environmental Law Centre (ELC) compares the legal framework for recreation management in Alberta to other Canadian provinces and US jurisdictions. These comparisons include the provinces of Ontario, British Columbia and Nova Scotia, the US Bureau of Land Management, the US Forest Service, and the States of Colorado, Utah and Oregon. The original report is expanded to consider Quebec and New Brunswick in the Addendum published in 2016.

The comparisons focus on three legal barriers to on-the-ground management actions in Alberta that were identified in advance of the research. These are:

    • mandates to manage recreation on public lands;
    • funding for recreation management programs; and,
    • liability for injuries on recreation trails.

The review also explores two questions relevant to recreation policy development in Alberta:

    • how motorized recreation is typically managed as compared to non-motorized recreation; and,
    • how options for improving recreation management under existing legislation compare to the option of legislative reform.

Managing Recreation on Public Land: How Does Alberta Compare?

Managing Recreation on Public Land: How Does Alberta Compare? Addendum

Organization

This project was undertaken by

The Environmental Law Centre

Status

Completed in

2016

Supporters

Alberta Law Foundation

The Calgary Foundation

Glen and Lois Mumey

Good Riddance: Waste Management Law in Alberta

 

Good Riddance: Waste Management Law in Alberta

A primer on the waste management system in Alberta

The Issue / Idea

Waste management poses a challenge across jurisdictions. What is the regulatory framework around waste management in Alberta?

The Project

Garbage is often considered to be the stuff we no longer need or want. We put it out of sight. We bury it, we burn it, we dump it, we hide it. Garbage is a nuisance and a bother. Unfortunately, the truth is that garbage can be much worse than a nuisance. A general term for garbage, and the term that will be used throughout this report, is “waste”. Waste is defined by what we do with it and how we choose to handle it and the definition can be contentious – as you will read in a later section. If we have no use for certain materials other than to dispose of them, then these materials are often considered to be waste, with the rules for their safe disposal set out in our laws and regulations. Waste can also be defined by type, or where it comes from. For example, separate laws in Alberta deal with biomedical waste or agricultural waste. There is also a differentiation between waste and recycling. This report is designed to provide an overview of the law that applies to waste management in Alberta, including a summary of the governing statutes and regulations.

This report is a primer on the waste management system in Alberta and as such some areas are not dealt with in the repot including sewage treatment; air and water emissions; intensive livestock operations; contaminated sites; and specific municipal waste bylaws.


Good Riddance: Waste Management Law in Alberta, 3rd Edition

Organization

This project was undertaken by

The Environmental Law Centre

Status

Completed in

2020

Supporters

Alberta Law Foundation

Agricultural Lands Law and Policy in Alberta

 

Agricultural Lands Law and Policy in Alberta

Highlighting and describing the legislative context for agricultural land uses in the province

The Issue / Idea

Agricultural lands and agricultural uses can provide a large suite of social, economic, and environmental benefits. What are laws and regulations that impact agricultural lands?

The Project

Agricultural lands support numerous social, economic and environmental benefits. In addition to making up an invaluable aspect of Alberta’s heritage and culture, social benefits of agricultural lands include food security and valued viewscapes. This project is set out in two phases. Phase 1 (2019) provides a review of the relevant statute and regulation relevant to agricultural lands and their operations. Phase 2 (forthcoming in 2021) outlines approaches (and recommendations) to move toward better conservation of high valued agricultural lands.

This report highlights and describes the legislative context for agricultural land uses in the province.


Agricultural Lands Law and Policy in Alberta

Organization

This project was undertaken by

The Environmental Law Centre

Status

Phase 1 Completed in

2019

Phase 2 is

on-going

Supporters

Alberta Real Estate Foundation

Municipal Powers, Land Use Planning, and the Environment: Understanding the Public’s Role

 

Municipal Powers, Land Use Planning, and the Environment: Understanding the Public’s Role

Exploring the nature of citizens’ rights to participate in municipal decisions related to the environment

The Issue / Idea

What is the nature of citizens’ rights to participate in municipal decisions related to the environment?

The Project

Municipalities exercise a broad range of powers that have significant direct and indirect impacts on the environment. Alberta’s cities, towns, and rural municipalities are already key players in waste management, water and wastewater treatment, and land use planning and development. They have the authority to assume a greater role in the regulation and management of natural areas including wetlands, air and water quality, toxic substances, redevelopment of contaminated lands, water conservation, wildlife, and other aspects of the environment within the municipality.

This Guide outlines the legal rights of citizens to participate in decision making on issues related to the environment. The Guide also provides approaches citizens can take in participating in municipal decisions.

It is important to note that there have been some amendments to the Municipal Government Act since this guide was published in 2005. These amendments may have implications for certain aspects of public participation. See the ELC website for further updates on the Municipal Government Act changes.


Municipal Powers, Land Use Planning, and the Environment: Understanding the Public’s Role

Organization

This project was undertaken by

The Environmental Law Centre

Status

Completed in

2005

Supporters

Alberta Law Foundation

Renewable Energy for Rural Municipalities

 

Renewable Energy for Rural Municipalities

A project to help municipalities municipalities understand their environmental, social, economic concerns and opportunities, and what support tools they may need to process applications for large scale (over 1MW) solar and wind development in their municipality

The Issue / Idea

What tools do municipalities need to balance development considerations with high value agricultural, ecological, and cultural lands?

The Project

“By 2030, renewable sources like wind and solar will account for up to 30 per cent of electricity generation,” says Alberta’s Climate Leadership Plan.

To achieve this goal, large scale wind and solar developments are being proposed and are likely to have direct impacts in rural jurisdictions that have the land base to support them. In discussions with several municipal staff, it has become apparent they are uncertain how renewable electricity regulations and development will affect them. What is their role in the regulatory and approvals process? How do they balance competing interests between agriculture, ecology and renewable development? What do they need to know to make informed decisions?

Miistakis is working with municipalities to understand their environmental, social, economic concerns and opportunities, and what support tools they may need to process applications for large scale (over 1MW) solar and wind development in their municipality. Miistakis will then collaborate with stakeholders to develop the support tools required to inform decision making at the local level.


Renewable Energy Development: Ecological Fact Sheet for Municipalities

Renewable Energy Development: Regulatory Resources for Municipalities

Rural Municipal Wind and Solar Decision Support Tools: Regulatory Context Background Paper

Survey Report: Large Scale Wind & Solar Decision Support Tools for Rural Municipalities Project

Rural Municipalities and Renewable Energy Development: Education Session (January 23, 2018, Brooks, AB)


Rural Decision Support Tools for Renewable Energy Development: Progress Update (Miistakis Institute)

Organization

This project was undertaken by

Miistakis Institute

Status

Completed in

2018

Supporters

Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties

Wheatland County

Working with Nature

 

Working with Nature

Harnessing the power of natural infrastructure to increase municipalities’ flood and drought resiliency

The Issue / Idea

Every municipality has “natural infrastructure,” but what is it, where is it, and how does it relate to flood and drought risk?

The Project

The Working With Nature toolkit was created to help municipalities catalogue their natural infrastructure, and then develop a prioritized plan for better using it to mitigate flood and drought risk. A Primer document was developed to provide a starting point for municipalities to understand the type of information, data, and programs available to inform and support flood and drought mitigation planning.

This free toolkit provides the materials and directions for a municipality to self-navigate through workshops, worksheets, and ultimately a living Workbook. In the process, a municipality will address Goals and Principles, Risks and Hazards, Natural Infrastructure, Actions, and Policy Development.


Working with Nature Toolkit Website

Working with Nature Webinar Slide Deck

Municipal Flood and Drought Action Planning Primer

Adapting to Flooding: An Adapt-action Summary Report

Adapting to Water Scarcity: An Adapt-action Summary Report

 

Organization

This project was undertaken by

The Miistakis Institute

Status

Project was completed in

2019

Supporters

Government of Alberta’s Watershed Resiliency and Restoration Program

Town of Cochrane

Urban Ecoroofs

 

Urban Ecoroofs

Exploring the impacts ecoroofs may have on climate change resilience in Alberta municipalities

The Issue / Idea

What impacts can ecoroofs have on climate change resilience in Alberta municipalities?

The Project

As cities develop, vegetation is typically replaced with non-permeable, non-vegetated surfaces. Ecoroofs are one way to provide some of the lost ecosystem services in urban centres including improved stormwater management (both quantity and quality), better regulation of building temperatures, reduced urban heat island effects, improved air quality, and increased urban wildlife habitat and biodiversity (Oberndorfer et al., 2007). Some jurisdictions refer to ecoroofs as a ‘no-regrets’ climate adaptation measure (Mees, Driessen, Runhaar, & Stamatelos, 2013) because they serve multiple societal goals.

Between 2017 and 2019, the Miistakis Institute partnered with the City of Edmonton, Environmental Strategies team to explore the impacts ecoroofs may have on climate change resilience in the city.


Ecoroof Guide for Municipalities

Ecoroof Fact Sheet

Edmonton Ecoroof Initiative for Climate Change Resiliency: Ecoroof Function Research

Jurisdictional Review

Edmonton Ecoroof Case Studies

Edmonton Ecoroof Website

Organization

This project was undertaken by

The Miistakis Institute

City of Edmonton, Environmental Strategies

Status

This project was

 completed in 2019

Supporters

City of Edmonton

Alberta Ecotrust Foundation

Edmonton Community Foundation

Federation of Canadian Municipalities