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

Municipal Environmental Purpose

 

Municipal Environmental Purpose

A white paper to catalyze discussion on the new municipal purpose ‘to foster the well-being of the environment’, introduced in Alberta’s revised Municipal Government Act of 2017

The Issue / Idea

How do municipalities consider the revised Municipal Government Act’s (2017) added a new purpose for municipalities: to foster the well-being of the environment?

The Project

The well-being of Alberta’s natural environment is heavily dependent on decisions made at the municipal level. The overhaul of the Municipal Government Act (MGA) recognized this with a new purpose for municipalities: “ to foster the well-being of the environment.” However, there was no accompanying policy direction as had been the case with other revised elements of the Act.

Since that time, several municipalities have begun trying to interpret this new purpose in varied ways, risking the creation of isolated and inconsistent approaches. This paper is intended to be an initial step to better understanding the implications of this significant change in the MGA.

While the literature offers little insight into the concept of “well-being of the environment”, there was clearly an intent behind this phrasing, so it is therefore worthwhile understanding the three critical elements – foster, well-being, and environment – informed by definitions, common usage, and associated legislation.

It is significant that the inclusion of ‘well-being of the environment’ in the Municipal Government Act was codified as a municipal purpose inserted immediately after the “good government” purpose, suggesting it should be interpreted more pervasively than the specific ‘service, facility, safety, and viability’ purposes.

Even with definitional clarity, municipalities are still challenged with understanding how decision-making processes would be affected. The authors suggest a common set of process characteristics be clearly reflected in municipal policy or decision rationale: Due Consideration, ‘Two Roads’ Assessment, Proactive Approach, Measured and Evaluated, and Liability Mitigation. Undertaking this approach would have the benefits of reinforcing current efforts, supporting regulatory alignment, enabling innovation, and increasing clarity and accountability.

Recognizing it would not be possible to comprehensively describe all discrete decision making circumstances, but that greater direction is needed, the authors suggest ‘categories’ based on the wellbeing of the environment powers in the Big City Charters.

Implementation of the well-being of the environment purpose will need to be embedded in municipal governance and regulatory frameworks, including bylaws, plans, policies, strategies, and measurements, with tool choice dependent on the specific environmental application or media.

More work is now needed to clarify the environmental decision-making areas affected (or created) by this new purpose, and to offer pragmatic direction for municipalities with regard to implementation. That work prerequires a broader conversation amongst municipalities to come to some consensus, and high level policy direction from Municipal Affairs.


BRIEF: ‘TO FOSTER THE WELL-BEING OF
THE ENVIRONMENT’:
INTERPRETING ALBERTA
MUNICIPALITIES’ NEW PURPOSE

‘TO FOSTER THE WELL-BEING OF
THE ENVIRONMENT’:
INTERPRETING ALBERTA
MUNICIPALITIES’ NEW PURPOSE

 

Organization

These assessments were undertaken by

The Miistakis Institute

The Environmental Law Centre

Status

Completed in

2019

Supporters

The Miistakis Institute

Climate Resilience for Local Communities

 

Climate Resilience for Local Communities

The Adapt-action Web Tool

The Issue / Idea

How do municipalities adapt to a changing climate? How can they become more climate resilient?

The Project

After extensive research to determine the best way to help municipalities, the Adapt-action tool was created – a web-based decision-support tool for municipalities seeking guidance in taking action regarding climate change adaptation.

Adapt-action guides you through the climate change issues of adapting to water scarcity and adapting to flooding. Each is outlined from the environmental changes you will see, to the implications for your community, through to the strategies you can employ to adapt and become more climate resilient.

As you navigate through each issue narrative, you will be able to view and collect information about: predicted climate change impacts and their effects; implications of these impacts on agriculture, health, recreation, infrastructure and biodiversity in your community; and what your municipality can do to prepare and adapt to these expected changes.

The research and tool development were undertaken as part of ABMI’s Biodiversity Management and Climate Change Adaptation project


Adapt-action Web Site

Adapt-action Overview

Research Reports – Year 1

Possible Tools for Local Adaptation
Proposed Action Plan Approach

Research Reports – Year 2

Review of Municipal Policies
Downscaling Climate Data
Communications Strategy
Action Plan Process Review
Environmental Changes and Implications

Research Reports – Year 3

Ecosystem-based Adaptation
Navigating with Narratives
Blueprint for Engagement
Groundwork: Assumptions and Bases

 

(Did we miss something important? Let us know!)

Organization

This project was undertaken by

The Miistakis Institute

Status

This was a multi-pronged research project begun in 2012, culminating in the release of Adapt-action in

April 2014

Supporters

ABMI Biodiversity Management and Climate Change Adaptation Project

Climate Change Emissions and Management Corporation

Edmonton Community Foundation

Intact Insurance

Bear Hazard Assessments for Alberta Municipalities

 

Bear Hazard Assessments for Alberta Municipalities

A series of assessments to determine the sources of human-bear conflict in specific Alberta communities.

The Issue / Idea

Can municipalities better plan for reducing conflict with bears by assessing their attractants and hazards?

The Project

As the urban and rural footprint and associated human activity in Alberta continues to increase so does the potential for human-bear interactions and conflicts. Alberta Sustainable Resource Development (ASRD) has developed the Alberta Bear-Smart Program (ABSP) as a province-wide initiative with the goal of reducing human-bear conflicts. The potential benefits of a successfully implemented ABSP include increased human safety, reduced bear mortalities and relocations and enhanced habitat security for bears.

The Bear Smart Program is a community driven process that is usually initiated with the development of a bear hazard assessment for the region of concern. A bear hazard report identifies historical and existing locations and practices that have led to human bear conflicts. These report identify gaps in the existing knowledge base in relation to bear-human conflicts and provides recommendations for reducing existing and potential conflict in the region of interest.

Three separate Bear Hazard Assessments were completed: Municipality of the Crowsnest Pass (2006), Fort McMurray Urban Service Area (2008), and the Smoky Region of Alberta (2011).


Smoky Region

Fort McMurry

Crowsnest Pass

Organization

These assessments were undertaken by

The Miistakis Institute

Status

These assessments were conducted in

2006, 2008, and 2011

Supporters

Alberta Sustainable Resource Development, Fish and Wildlife Division

Municipalities and Brownfields

 

Municipalities and Brownfields

Part 4 of the Municipalities and Environmental Law Series

The Issue / Idea

Municipalities need to better understand what authority they have to regulate brownfields within their boundaries.

The Project

Brownfields are located throughout Alberta and can contaminate the environment, detract from the appeal of communities, and hinder economic and social development. Meanwhile, brownfield redevelopment can provide environmental, economic and social benefits for Albertans. The fourth and final publication in the Environmental Law Centre’s Municipalities and Environmental Law Series explores when and how municipalities can manage and regulate brownfields and their redevelopment.


Report: Municipalities and Brownfields

Organization

This project was undertaken by

The Environmental Law Centre

Status

Development of this publication began with the Municipalities and Environmental Law information series in Fall of 2016, and was completed in

June 2018

Supporters

Max Bell Foundation

Anonymous Foundation

Municipal Management of Industrial Development

 

Municipal Management of Industrial Development

Part 4 of the Municipalities and Environmental Law Series

The Issue / Idea

Municipalities need to better understand what they have to regulate industrial development within their boundaries.

The Project

The interface of municipal planning and industrial development poses a challenge for municipalities. The third publication in the Environmental Law Centre’s Municipalities and Environmental Law Series explores the sources of, and challenges to, municipal authority to regulate industrial development within its boundaries.


Report: Municipal Management of Industrial Development

Organization

This project was undertaken by

The Environmental Law Centre

Status

Development of this publication began with the Municipalities and Environmental Law information series in Fall of 2016, and was completed in

May 2018

Supporters

Max Bell Foundation

Anonymous Foundation

Municipal Management of Water Bodies

 

Municipal Management of Water Bodies

Part 2 of the Municipalities and Environmental Law Series

The Issue / Idea

Municipalities need to better understand what authority they have to regulate the water bodies within their boundaries.

The Project

Alberta’s water bodies are a precious resource, and their regulation and proper management is essential for, among other things, safe drinking water, healthy aquatic ecosystems, and watershed resiliency. This second publication in the Environmental Law Centre’s Municipalities and Environmental Law Series explores when and how municipalities can regulate the water bodies within their boundaries.


Report: Municipal Management of Water Bodies

Organization

This project was undertaken by

The Environmental Law Centre

Status

Development of this publication began with the Municipalities and Environmental Law information series in Fall of 2016, and was completed in

April 2018

Supporters

Max Bell Foundation

Anonymous Foundation

The Scope of Municipal Powers and the Environment

 

The Scope of Municipal Powers and the Environment

Part 1 of the Municipalities and Environmental Law Series

The Issue / Idea

Municipalities may be unclear as to the role they can play in environmental management.

The Project

Municipal decision-making is increasingly vital to effective environmental management. Today’s municipalities play a central role in developing human settlements and green spaces, managing water bodies, and regulating the ways in which these are impacted. In order to do so, municipalities rely on a variety of legislation that empowers them to make decisions and take action in this regard. The following publication is intended to clarify the sources and the scope of municipal authority with respect to the environment.


Report: The Scope of Municipal Powers and the Environment

Organization

This project was undertaken by

The Environmental Law Centre

Status

Development of this publication began with the Municipalities and Environmental Law information series in Fall of 2016, and was completed in

November 2017

Supporters

Max Bell Foundation

Anonymous Foundation