New report focuses on building a sustainable economy in southwestern Alberta

A report on sustainable economic growth, produced by the Canadian social science company Stormy Lake Consulting in partnership with the non-profit environmental initiative Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation, or Y2Y, will present local First Nations’ policy plans and comments from residents of southwestern Alberta communities.

The report will examine how sustainable industries can become an economic engine in the region, helping to generate money while simultaneously conserving the region’s water, nature and wildlife.

“We believe that economies can be developed and sustained that are positive for nature,” says Patty Richards, Alberta Program Advisor for Y2Y.

The research phase of the report is well advanced. The first step, which looked at economic demographics related to local industries and employment, has already been completed, says Richards, and Y2Y has moved on to the second, which involves discussions with community members and stakeholders.

On November 8, Y2Y hosted a virtual discussion for residents of southwestern Alberta to hear their views, ideas and concerns regarding sustainable development in the region. To come, a series of individual interviews with the partners.

Municipal development plans for Piikani and Kainai First Nation, and other local communities, will also be consulted and the final report distributed to them, although Richards says Y2Y has yet to understand what this process will look like.

“It’s really about recognizing the work that the community is already doing and amplifying areas that can potentially go further or new ideas,” she adds.

“We really don’t know what will come out of it. When we say we don’t have a definite outcome, we really mean it. It’s really trying to listen to the community and see what’s going on there.

Stormy Lake Consulting produces the final report, but Y2Y helps gather the data and lead discussions with residents.

Y2Y has worked with other environmentally focused nonprofits in the region for the past few years, including Waterton Biosphere, Nature Conservancy of Canada, Livingstone Landowners Group, and Southwest Alberta Sustainability Community Initiative.

It is dedicated to preserving habitats ranging from Yellowstone National Park in the United States to arctic habitats in the Yukon. In Alberta, the southwest is of particular interest as the region has a higher level of biodiversity than other regions of the province. The objective of Y2Y is to find economic activities that do not threaten the environment, by finding alternatives to practices such as mining.

Adam North Peigan, president of the Piikani Mountain Child Valley Society, attended the virtual discussion on November 8, concerned about the appeal of the Grassy Mountain mining project.

Residents of Piikani, he says, are concerned about their lack of input on the issue, as he says Chief Stanley Grier has declared his support for the mine without consulting the community at large.

North Peigan adds that he would like Piikani to support renewable energy projects, rather than coal, as an economic engine.

“Piikani First Nation, we are going to have to deal with the environmental impacts and that will follow us for many generations from now, with the toxicity of the air, with the desecration of our natural lands, with the selenium which is going to have a impact on our water supply, ”he said.

He says he would consider using Y2Y’s final report as an educational resource for the community, but adds that he would like to see the report first to make sure he has a similar community vision.

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