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A Social Sustainability Plan for Wood Buffalo

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Supported by a community-based Project Advisory Committee and through financial support from the Canadian Red Cross, the Municipality is working on the development of a Social Sustainability Plan (SSP). The SSP will outline social sustainability priorities that each community partner and key stakeholder, including the Municipality, can use to align policies, strategies and actions to support decision-making and resource allocation in an effort to improve quality of life for current and future residents.

Community Involvement
Social sustainability for our community is a collaborative effort and strong partnerships are essential. The planning process and activities will establish the roles and responsibilities of the Municipality, organizations and agencies, and other key stakeholders so they can work together on this initiative. A fundamental component will be engagement and conversations with social profit, education, health, industry, government and Indigenous partners and organizations to share perspectives, knowledge and experience.


  • Increase the awareness and knowledge in the community about Social Sustainability and the Social Sustainability project.
  • Define social sustainability in a Wood Buffalo context.
  • Identify social sustainability priorities, strategies and actions that each community partner and key stakeholder, including the Municipality, can use to align policies, strategies and actions.
  • Identify partners and stakeholders that will address priority actions.
  • Identify high-level, meaningful community indicators that will help measure the success of implementation and inform ongoing decision-making.
  • Identify a process of ongoing engagement whereby the plan is revisited.

What is Social Sustainability?
Social sustainability focuses on ways to sustain priority programs and services that work towards an improved quality of life for current and future residents. Social sustainability considers the linkages and interdependencies between the social, environmental and economic dimensions that will make our community more sustainable.

A definition of Social Sustainability specific to Wood Buffalo will be developed through the engagement process of the project. Some examples of definitions of social sustainability include:

Community resilience is the capability to anticipate risk, limit impact, and bounce back rapidly through survival, adaptability, evolution, and growth in the face of turbulent change. Resilience as an attribute, with adaptability at its core can enable communities to determine how resilient they are and to take actions to improve their resilience.1

A social system's capacity to facilitate human efforts to deduce the trends of change, reduce vulnerabilities, and facilitate adaptation. The capacity of a [social-ecological system] to sustain preferred modes of economic activity.2

Community social resilience – The ability of community members to take meaningful, deliberate, collective action to remedy the impact of a problem, including the ability to interpret the environment, intervene, and move on.3

Project Updates

  • Moorhouse and Associates Consulting was the successful bidder through an RFP process to support the project and all related contract expenses are covered by the Red Cross funds.
  • A community-based Project Advisory Committee has been established and includes representation from education (Fort McMurray Public and Catholic Schools), health services (Alberta Health Services), the social sector (United Way and Fuse Social), provincial government (Community and Social Services), industry (Syncrude Ltd.), indigenous and rural communities (Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation and Industry Relations Corporation), the Advisory Committee on Aging and the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo.
  • Twenty-five one-on-one interviews were conducted in the community and with members of the Municipality.
  • Rural community sessions, attended by 130 people were held in Janvier and in Conklin and the Fort McMurray #468 First Nation Teddy Bear Fairs.
  • More than 60 plans and documents relevant to social sustainability were reviewed to collect information from other projects and research, capitalizing on existing knowledge in the field, avoiding duplication, and determining a starting point to guide stakeholder engagement.
  • Agency and organization working group sessions held Dec. 4 – 6, 2017. A total of five sessions were held in the Urban Service Area, attended by 61 representatives from 52 organizations.
  • More working sessions are being held in rural communities in January and February, 2018, coordinated by the Indigenous and Rural Relations Department.

For more information, please contact Caitlin Downie at or 780-788-1497.

1 A CARRI Report, Definitions of Community Resilience: An Analysis; 2013

2 Kofinas, Community social resilience; 2003,/p>

3 Pfefferbaum, 2005

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