Community Research Connections



  February 2008



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Sustainable community development relies on long-term integrated planning. Our unique online Integrated Community Sustainability Planning Tool provides a framework for any community, large or small, to develop their own sustainability plan, independent of outside consultation, in a community process designed to ensure implementation. 
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Searching for info on model sustainable communities or a set of operating principles to guide you in your own development plans? Our Sustainability Imperative Discussion Paper may be just what you need. 

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Dr. Ann Dale with friendsWelcome to
Community Research Connections  Issue 4 


Sustainable community development raises complicated social questions such as the meaning of place, scale, limits and diversity for each community. Can there be too much diversity, so that social cohesion is lost as well as shared meaning? Why do human systems appear to be oblivious to optimal scale, particularly as evidenced by recent food scares? Equally, what is the dynamic relationship between place, limits, scale and diversity? Our research team continues to explore this dynamic relationship through engaging communities in dialogue around specific sustainable development issues. If you have any thoughts, ideas or papers on these concepts, please don't hesitate to share them with us.

Ann Dale
Royal Roads University
School of Environment and Sustainability


 Downtown Toronto - image by Kent Waddington

Inner City Neighbourhoods Threatened 

Drs. Dale and Newman will be presenting at the AAG meeting in Boston in April on the topic of sustainable community development and gentrification. As concern over environmental impact grows, "green" technologies and developments have become popular additions to high-end urban development. This change has been encouraged and facilitated by urban governments eager to revitalize inner city areas.


In their presentation the team will draw on case studies to examine the two sides of the growing popularity of green development; though high-end green development can increase the profile and desirability of sustainable technology, it can act as a disincentive to grass roots sustainable development as such development can actually threaten the affordability of inner city neighborhoods. Ultimately "sustainability for some" is not a sufficiently sustainable development pattern, and the debate should be reframed to challenge the unsustainable nature of the bulk of current development.  


Kids swimming by Kent Waddington 


















We are excited to report that almost 3,000 Canadians from all major centres, and a wide range of villages, towns, hamlets, and cities across the country, have now participated in our Community Liveability Survey. However, we have room for many thousands more so please help by sharing the survey link ( with your friends and colleagues. 


Results to date suggest that we as Canadians are generally happy with the communities in which we live. We feel safe, trust our neighbours and are happy with the services and infrastructure that make up the fabric of our communities. These feelings of trust are slightly greater in rural areas than urban areas, but urban dwellers feel their services are more accessible, and use a greater diversity of amenities than their rural counterparts. Perhaps one of the reasons for this is a higher level of casual meetings in rural areas where people are more likely to meet acquaintances while shopping, picking up the mail, or dropping the kids off at hockey practice. Where people have safety concerns they are normally based on false perception (fear of crime) rather than reality (concerns over pollution and traffic), but these concerns are at a low level.

Our findings also reveal that survey respondents are largely been skewed towards the more privileged components of society - with the population surveys having a higher level of education and income than the Canadian average. Please take a few moments to share your thoughts on 'community' by taking our online survey at If you would like to help us get our survey into every community in Canada through your organization, group, or community newsletter, please contact Chris Ling at Thank you. 



Environments Journal features "United We Can" case studyHandpainted image by Kent Waddington

In a changing and unpredictable world, sustainable community development is less a goal than a dynamic process of working with the resources and information at hand. In order to sustain this dynamic interactive process, communities need to anticipate and respond to these dynamics and nurture their resilience if they are to innovate and diversify. This is particularly difficult for communities that are marginalized, dealing with poverty, homelessness, and addiction. Authored by Drs. Ann Dale and Lenore Newman, the paper focuses on the ability of community networks to build social capital critical to the creation of the resilience needed to sustain less advantaged communities.

Environments Journal 34(2), University of Waterloo, Faculty of Environmental Studies, Waterloo.


Lone Tree by Kent WaddingtonSondage sur la vie en collectivité

Si vous demeurez au Canada et avez un peu de temps libre, nous aimerions lire vos réponses au Sondage sur la vie en collectivité.

Vous pouvez le compléter en ligne à l'adresse suivante:




Case Studies

We invite you to visit our online library of over thirty case studies in sustainable infrastructure and sustainable community development. The site's dynamic interactive feature lets you read comments left by previous readers, and add your own. Read and comment on existing threads anonymously, or register to post new topics. If you have a case study in sustainable community development that you would like to contribute to our online forum, simply contact us. Samples follow:


Wind turbine, Toronto lakeshore by Kent WaddingtonWind Power Generation 
Wind power as a source of electricity has many advantages from a sustainability perspective. It carries little ecological impact; produces no green house gases; physically takes little room for implementation; and substitutes for a number of environmentally problematic technologies such as the burning of coal or gas, the creation of new hydro reservoirs and/or the use of nuclear energy. Consequently, many see wind power as a potential, if not an integral part of a sustainable solution for Canadian communities.


Energy Efficiency for Homeowners

By Josh McLean and Chris Ling

Blower door energy efficiency testAs a Kyoto Protocol signatory, Canada initiated programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The EnerGuide for Houses (EGH) program provided a financial incentive to encourage homeowners to increase the energy efficiency of their homes (related to heating and cooling). Despite the allure of government grants and the financial benefits from energy savings, the number of homeowners following through with upgrades in the EGH program was relatively low. This research examines why homeowners took part in the program and the types of barriers they encountered.



Our on-line Community Research Connections portal is a very young and vibrant site that embraces two research projects by Dr. Ann Dale and colleagues:  Bridging Intellectual and Social Capital in Canadian Communities, and

a joint Infrastructure Canada / SSHRC project to study the state of the art in sustainable infrastructure in Canada. Site content will be growing steadily from both our researchers and from readers like you. We invite you to read, listen to, use, or contribute to any of its many features.



 iPod_redAdding your perspective could mean music to your ears!

Our research continues into the links between people, the places where they live, and the degree to which they are involved in their community.  If you haven't already participated in our Community Liveability survey, Please consider doing so now by visiting
Five randomly chosen respondents will win an iPOD Shuffle as our thanks. Your responses could well help shape the world you leave to your children and grandchildren.

Contact Info

Editor:  Kent Waddington

Survey Research Coordinator:  Chris Ling