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Resolution R241-09 Adopted December 8, 2009

Š 2009, City of Fort Saskatchewan - All Rights Reserved. The preparation of this sustainable community plan was carried out with assistance from the Green Municipal Fund, a Fund financed by the Government of Canada and administered by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. Notwithstanding this support, the views expressed are the personal views of the authors, and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and the Government of Canada accept no responsibility for them. -ii-


Message from Mayor Jim Sheasgreen It is with both a great amount of pride and excitement that we as a municipality have created, approved, and now present the community our first-ever Municipal Sustainability Plan, the purpose of which is to provide a high level, over-arching strategic plan to guide decision-making towards a sustainable future. Using the five dimensions of sustainability as identified in the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association’s framework for sustainability planning – governance, cultural, environmental, economic, and social – the principles and implementation priorities identified in this document were developed with a community-based, visionary, and yet practical approach to Fort Saskatchewan’s sustainable future. One of the things we are most satisfied with about this Plan is the fact that it represents a participatory approach to community planning. The success in creating this Plan was highly dependent upon the generous contributions of time and interest by our City’s citizens. And, for this, we are extremely grateful. As with any Plan, without meaningful action over an extended period of time, and without the resources required to carry it out, all of this work up to now will be for naught. Let this not be the case in this instance. If we are committed to carrying out the Plan for the reasons and in the way it is intended, generations to come will reap the benefits immensely.

“If we are committed to carrying out the Plan for the reasons and in the way it is intended, generations to come will reap the benefits immensely.” Mayor Jim Sheasgreen


INTRODUCTION HOW TO USE THIS SUSTAINABILITY PLAN ....................................................... 1 OUR DEFINITION OF SUSTAINABILITY ............................................................... 2 HOW WE CREATED THIS SUSTAINABILITY PLAN ............................................ 3 OUR COMMUNITY VISION ..................................................................................... 8 WHAT WE VALUE ..................................................................................................... 9 OUR PRIORITIES OUR PRIORITIES: COMPASSIONATE COMMUNITY & SENSE OF COMMUNITY ........................................................................................................... 13 OUR PRIORITIES: GOVERNANCE ..................................................................... 23 OUR PRIORITIES: NATURAL ENVIRONMENT ................................................. 31 OUR PRIORITIES: SUPPORTING BUSINESSES ............................................. 41 OUR PRIORITIES: URBAN RESOURCES .......................................................... 49 NEXT STEPS NEXT STEPS ........................................................................................................... 59 APPENDICES APPENDIX A: PRIORITIZATION CRITERIA APPENDIX B: RANKED ACTION ITEMS


This section provides guidance for readers of Fort Saskatchewan’s Community Sustainability Plan (Sustainability Plan). The document’s format is intended to offer easily accessible and reference-oriented information. In using this document, you should be able to identify your relevant section by topic and access all the necessary information within that section. The following provides a brief description of each section’s contents:

Our Definition of Sustainability: • The definition of sustainability that we used to create this Sustainability Plan.

How We Created this Sustainability Plan: • Background information on the factors used to create the Sustainability Plan including purpose, scope, philosophy, community engagement, communications, and process.

Our Community Vision: • Fort Saskatchewan’s 30 year vision illustrating the ideal future when the community has successfully achieved the goals of this Sustainability Plan.

What We Value: • The sustainability principles that represent key themes and values essential to Fort Saskatchewan. The sustainability principles will guide decision-making, action plans, and policy choices as we work to implement the Sustainability Plan.

Our Priorities: • Specific information on each of the five priority areas: - Compassionate Community and Sense of Community; - Governance; - Natural Environment; - Supporting Businesses; and - Urban Resources.

The type of information provided for each priority area is consistent and includes: Background Information: • Topics: The main themes considered to be important for the priority area. • Relevant Materials: Existing municipal documents that may act as reference material. • Main Principles: The sustainability principles that are most connected to this priority area. Our goals for the future: • Goals: Specific descriptions of success and goals. • Targets: Measurable attributes that we are aiming to achieve in pursuit of the long-term goals. Making it happen: • Top Five Priorities and Implementation Requirements: An action plan comprised of a listing of the top five priority actions, timeframes, budgets, who will be responsible, and the applicable Sustainability Principle(s). Monitoring Indicators: • Recommended monitoring criteria including potential data sources and methods. Where we are today: • A baseline description of the priority area as understood by community members, Council and Administration to be used during the implementation and monitoring phases of this Sustainability Plan. This baseline will enable the community to measure progress towards the vision.

Next Steps: •

Description of key responsibilities and expectations to move this Sustainability Plan forward. -1-


Sustainability planning is a new initiative for Fort Saskatchewan, and so we began with defining sustainability based on the Brundtland Commission’s definition. The World Commission on Environment and Development, informally known as the Brundtland Commission, was convened in 1983 by the United Nations to explore the linkage between development and the environment. The Brundtland Commission’s definition of sustainability is the most commonly used definition and it served as the starting place for this Sustainability Plan. “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” 1 Our interpretation of this definition is that sustainability requires big picture thinking and integrated problem solving that results in: • • • •

Meeting social and cultural needs; Promoting fair and just governance; Building a strong economy; Respecting the environment so that the basis for life, a healthy ecosystem, is protected; and • Successfully integrating all of these over the long term. The framework of this Sustainability Plan was mainly based on the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association’s (AUMA) framework for sustainability planning. As such, AUMA’s five dimensions of sustainability are central themes throughout this Sustainability Plan and they are:


World Commission on Environment and Development (1987). Our Common Future. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


• • • • •

culture, economy, environment, governance, and society.

Integration is a key concept of sustainability. Achieving integrated problem solving comes from in-depth understanding of the relationships between the five dimensions of sustainability. As a starting place for understanding these relationships, we illustrated the hierarchy between the basic sustainability elements (see below). The ecosystem is the foundation of our system because it directly supports both our society and economy. And so, our society is dependent on our ecosystem, and our economy is dependent on both our ecosystem and our society. This hierarchy must be considered in future decision-making and prioritization.





Purpose and Scope


The Sustainability Plan’s purpose is to provide a high level strategic plan to guide community decision-making towards a sustainable future. This Sustainability Plan represents the first time Fort Saskatchewan has considered sustainability from a comprehensive perspective. In creating this strategic plan, a number of objectives were achieved:

The foundation of this Sustainability Plan is rooted in it being a community plan. Throughout the process, community members provided ideas and insights that resulted in the contents of this Plan. There were no limitations placed on people’s ideas. While this is a City adopted Sustainability Plan, to be successful in achieving the vision and goals, it must be a community supported plan. The creation of this Sustainability Plan was no different; it had to be a community-based plan to understand the nuances within the community and to create support for executing the action items. This project has resulted in a Sustainability Plan that will require continued collaboration between organizations, community groups, and the Municipality to achieve the goals and to consider new goals in the future. This Sustainability Plan is a living document. It is a game plan for future actions, but success cannot be won without the coordination of the players involved.

• Fostering initial understanding of what sustainability is and how it applies to life in Fort Saskatchewan; • Building awareness and capacity in sustainability; • Promotion of community ownership for the Sustainability Plan resulting in collaboration to achieve its goals; and • Creation of a living plan that reflects the community’s vision and guiding principles, and establishes an understanding of the current situation, goals, and recommended action plan. The Sustainability Plan was developed in tandem with the Municipal Development Plan (MDP) such that they represent both the strategic and statutory policy components of community sustainability. Combined, these two plans are the highest level of municipal strategies adopted by Council. The MDP policies are based on the Sustainability Plan’s strategic vision and the policies function as a direct implementation tool.

This Sustainability Plan is based upon community knowledge and commitments for action. As such, every community member was invited to participate in this process through a transparent and open approach to community engagement. Open invitations were sent to a wide variety of community organizations and individuals to encourage diverse perspectives to be included in the Plan at all stages. Only with broad community representation could this Sustainability Plan have become a community plan. The intent of this Sustainability Plan is to develop a communitybased, visionary and practical guide to Fort Saskatchewan’s sustainable future. The Sustainability Plan is visionary in that the community was asked to imagine what is ideally possible in 30 years and practical in that the specific goals and actions reflect significant improvements from today and yet are within the realm of possibility.


Community Engagement


This Sustainability Plan represents a participatory approach to community planning. The success in creating this Plan was highly dependent upon the generous contributions of time and interest by citizens of Fort Saskatchewan. The details of the community involvement are discussed below in the Process section, and this section provides a timeline for these events.

To invite a wide diversity of community members to the major events, a variety of communication techniques were used including:

Major Events Timeline:

Sustainability Principles & Visioning Workshop Public Visioning Survey Youth Workshop Council Update Strategy Workshop Administration Strategy & Prioritization Workshop Council Presentation and Discussion Public Open House

September 12&13, 2008 September 12-26, 2008 October 9, 2008 October 14, 2008 October 25, 2008 February 4, 2009 April 21, 2009 July 7, 2009

The Sustainability Plan is a living plan and the intent of this process was to initiate sustainability planning. One of the successes of this Plan was the development of significant capacity-building with the community, Council, and Administration. Following the awareness-raising created through this project, the community will be directly involved in implementing the recommended actions and achieving the vision.


• press releases, • articles in newsletters and recreational magazines, • advertisements in local newspapers, • website information, • an electronic message board, and • over 100 letters sent by the Mayor. The project was announced to the public officially through a public meeting of Council, as well as the methods previously discussed. Additional efforts were made to invite the community members through existing volunteer groups. Invitation letters from the Mayor were sent to a broad range of community groups, Council committees and boards. The City has a list of individuals who have contributed to City initiatives over the years. This list is called the Ambassador’s list, and individuals on this list received an invitation letter to attend the workshops and provide assistance in spreading the word about opportunities for involvement. All members of the community were targeted for inclusion in the process. Childcare was offered to allow families to attend the Sustainability Principles and Visioning Workshop. During the process of identifying community groups, special efforts were made to include youth, seniors, arts and culture, historical society, sports and recreation, environmental, safety, Family Community Support Services, and business interests.

Process The creation of this Sustainability Plan followed two basic frameworks: AUMA’s sustainability planning process and the Framework for Strategic Sustainable Development (FSSD)2 . By using a combination of AUMA and FSSD, the Sustainability Plan process was created to enable the community to work through a strategic planning process with specific attention to the five dimensions of sustainability as defined by AUMA (cultural, economic, environmental, governance, and social). In what is intended to be an adaptive management approach to sustainability, we have begun the journey towards our sustainable future by first setting the vision, goals, and actions to be guided by our sustainability principles. The Strategic Planning Process figure shown here schematically depicts the plan making process. The circular approach of this process means that reassessment of the Sustainability Plan is expected to regularly occur. As a Municipality, City Council and Administration have chosen to review the Sustainability Plan annually to understand the impacts of strategic action items during the budgeting and strategic planning processes. Even more importantly, we have chosen to continually work with the Sustainability Plan through citizen volunteer boards and dedicated Administration resources to achieve our goals. The significance of a strategic sustainability plan is that the Sustainability Plan was developed with an eye to current municipal priorities and recent accomplishments. Coordination with Council’s strategic priorities was essential to the creation of this document. Elements of the Sustainability Plan, developed through public engagement, were presented to Council at various 2

Robèrt, K.H., Broman, G., Waldron, D., Ny, H., Byggeth, S., Cook, D., Johansson, L., Oldmark, J., Basile, G., Haraldsson, H., & MacDonald, J. (2007). Strategic Leadership Towards Sustainability. Karlskrond, Sweden: Blekinge Institute of Technology.

stages of the project. These presentations were undertaken to ensure Council and the public had consistent understanding of the proposed outcomes. Monitoring the success of future actions is a critical step in the Sustainability Plan because it provides necessary information to feed back into the iterative adaptive management approach. This information will be important to understand how much progress has been made towards the goals and, therefore, assist in providing direction for future actions and required adjustments. The flowchart illustrates the stages of plan development, but does not represent how ideas were generated at each stage. A specific description of each stage in the flowchart is offered below. Create Sustainability Create

Principles and Vision Set Priority Areas

Implement Monitoring

Development Monitoring Indicators

Strategic Planning Process

Prioritize Actions

Establish Baseline

Identify Goals

Brainstorm Potential Actions


Create Sustainability Principles and Vision The Sustainability Principles and Visioning Workshop public participation strategy used elements of a Future Search Conference3 through an intensive 1½ day workshop session with the public, Council and Administration. This session involved a keynote address from the Mayor, and a guest keynote address from the Mayor of Airdrie, another community undergoing a similar sustainability planning process. A roundtable community discussion initiated the evening’s conversations and the remainder of the session focused on open dialogue with all the community members. This session resulted in the creation of the sustainability principles. The community also illustrated specific examples of their vision through interactive presentations. A follow-up survey requested people’s perspectives about the vision from individuals who attended the session and from individuals who could not participate in this session. A youth workshop was hosted at a separate event because it was recognized that youth were not well represented at the Sustainability Principles and Visioning Workshop. The perspective provided by this group was woven into the information gained at the first community workshop. The draft sustainability principles and vision were written from the ideas and information offered at these two sessions. Set Priority Areas The priority areas were developed from the information provided at the Sustainability Principles and Visioning Workshop, the youth workshop and AUMA’s five dimensions of sustainability.


Weisbord, M., & Janoff, S. (2000). Future Search Conference: An Action Guide to Finding Common Ground in Organizations and Communities. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers.


Specific examples of the participants’ vision developed through interactive presentations.

Establish Baseline, Identify Goals and Targets, and Brainstorm Potential Actions The Strategy Workshop focused on the development of the baseline, goals and action ideas for each priority area. The session formats were flexible so individuals could drop into the sessions that they wished to contribute towards. Through this open forum, a broader understanding of preferred goals and actions was communicated. In addition to the information gathered through the Strategy Workshop, the City reviewed recommendations from existing City studies and conducted best practices research. A Senior Administration workshop was hosted to review the final recommendations. The development of long-term targets was the final stage of this process. Once a clear understanding of the goals was established, the public was engaged through an interactive open house and online survey to provide input for specific targets. Options were provided for a variety of targets, and the public made recommendations which were further developed by Administration into the final targets. The intention behind these targets is to establish a “magnitude of scope” understanding of what success should look like over the course of 20 years. While the targets may change in subsequent years based on better understanding of the trends and opportunities, the identified targets clearly outline the public expectations of what constitutes success. Prioritize Actions Senior Administration undertook a prioritization process that was applied to the comprehensive list of potential actions. Prioritization was based on criteria and a scoring system specifically developed for the Sustainability Plan (Appendix A). This scoring system was

designed to be consistent with Council’s current strategic planning process, while making adjustments to highlight the significance of the sustainability principles. Senior Administration ranked each potential action based on the criteria. An average ranking was determined for all potential actions producing the top five for each priority area. The top five priorities are the actions that require immediate attention. Some of these actions are already ongoing and demonstrate that the City is already moving towards a more sustainable future. The top five recommended actions for each priority area represent a diverse range of projects from initiatives that will take a long time to complete, to ones that do not require direct action, but are recommendations for new approaches. The scale of effort required to achieve the recommended actions varies. When initial priorities have been completed, or additional resources are available, the remaining action items should be pursued in order of priority as identified in Appendix B. Additional information regarding the intended outcomes for some action items is also provided in Appendix B. Develop Monitoring Indicators and Implement Monitoring A collaborative approach was undertaken with Senior Administration to provide a comprehensive set of monitoring indicators based on best practices research. The strategy moving forward is to engage existing citizen-led volunteer boards to partner with the City to implement each priority area’s recommended actions. As a part of this responsibility, these organizations will fully develop the identified indicators into a comprehensive and achievable monitoring strategy.



Our sustainability principles are what we value in a sustainable future. The importance of these sustainability principles lies not in choosing one or a few in each situation, but in applying all principles to each community decision. With this in mind, Fort Saskatchewan’s sustainability principles are not a list of prioritized principles; they are a set of principles that are intended to be used in combination with one another.

Principle A: A Welcoming Community We commit to being a welcoming community – a place for everyone. We will create a safe community by knowing and respecting one another. Trust and compassion are created through multi-generational and multi-cultural events. We embrace diversity. We will actively reach out to fellow citizens encouraging them to participate in this community. We promote a variety of opportunities for careers and recreation. We ensure social programs, amenities, and services are available to support our community.

“Sustainable community development implies that we address not only the “hard” urban environmental issues such as transportation, land use, air quality, and energy conservation, but also the “soft” issues such as public health and safety, gender equity, environmental education, and global environmental responsibility.” Mark Roseland, 1992

Principle B: A Community with Spirit We respect the City’s identity and history while embracing an ever-changing future. Fort Saskatchewan has a proud history. We honour and showcase this history while also moving forward with our dynamic vision. Citizens are the City’s greatest asset. We are a community with spirit, where citizens actively participate in public life and all people are engaged to shape the future. Fort Saskatchewan is a community that encourages: volunteerism; active participation in arts, culture, and recreation; and a strong social fabric. The City will provide frequent and meaningful opportunities to celebrate our history and empower community members to demonstrate our spirit. -9-

Principle C: Stewardship of the Environment We are committed to an ethic of environmental stewardship. We recognize that a healthy environment is integral to long-term social and economic interests, and all residents share in the environment’s protection. We are committed to the preservation and enhancement of natural ecosystems. Protection of the North Saskatchewan River valley is paramount. We promote the environment throughout our community through parks, greenways, and integrating nature with our urban environment.

Principle D: Using Our Resources Wisely We understand the need to manage our actions in relation to the available natural, social and financial resources. We wisely use resources to maximize benefits and minimize negative impacts. We explore innovative technologies and practices to make the most of our assets. We focus on such practices as multiple uses for facilities; using locally available, renewable energy; and creating new products and services from waste. By viewing our community as an ecosystem, we will enhance our social, ecological and economic interactions.


Principle E: A Responsive Economy We recognize that a responsive local economy will help sustain the community’s high quality of life. Fort Saskatchewan’s businesses will be leaders in the region through eco-friendly businesses and eco-industrial development. We are a supportive community and, as such, there is an emphasis on buying locally to sustain our businesses. Services and products are available within The Fort with linkages to regional centres. The City offers an attractive business environment promoting economic diversity and embracing employment opportunities.

Principle F: A Complete Community To promote a high quality of life, we will work to ensure that Fort Saskatchewan has a wide range of housing, employment, education, and leisure opportunities. We will develop mixed use neighbourhoods with a diversity of amenities and services so everyone has a place to call home that is close to essential community services. A complete community will enable everyone to meet their daily needs within the City.

Principle G: A Community Designed for People We are committed to long-term planning to enhance the overall quality of life in our community. We will create a compact and enjoyable urban community. Our downtown will be our civic centre with bustling shops and public parks. We will be a community of neighbourhoods designed so we can safely move about the City. In the design of transportation systems, there will be many options for travel including public transportation, walking and cycling while removing barriers. The integration of mobility and nature will continue to be an emphasis through the design of parks, trails, and inclusion of street trees in urban areas. In every aspect of community design, we will encourage innovation in eco-design to improve our quality of life.

“We should all be concerned about the future because we will have to spend the rest of our lives there.� Charles F. Kettering




Our Community Vision is the ultimate goal of this Sustainability Plan. This vision is what we want the future to hold for Fort Saskatchewan. We imagined what our community will be known for and what it will feel like to be a part of this community in 30 years. We considered all five dimensions of sustainability in this vision. Our vision sets the tone for the Sustainability Plan; every recommendation aims to transform this vision into reality.

The Fort: Engaged People, Thriving Community In 2040, Fort Saskatchewan is a welcoming, compassionate City. We are a friendly, multi-generational community and there is a strong sense of pride and ownership in what we have accomplished together. As a community, we are stewards of the environment and are committed to using our resources wisely. We have a deeply rooted respect for our place and celebrate the river valley. The Fort is a leader in eco-industrial development with a flourishing local economy. We support every aspect of life in Fort Saskatchewan from local businesses to social services. We know our history, and have a dynamic vision for our future. Arts, recreation, and culture thrive. Downtown is the heart of the community; it is a vibrant destination for business or play and an attractive place to live. Fort Saskatchewan is home.

“The future is not something we enter. The future is something we create.� Leonard Sweet