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A Social Sustainability Plan for Wood Buffalo

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In partnership with a community-based Project Advisory Committee, the Social Sustainability Plan project  project team has been gathering information from Wood Buffalo residents, the education sector, health services, social profit, community organizations, industry, Indigenous and rural representatives, and other key stakeholders in the region. Based on the input and information from these stakeholders, key priorities have been identified that will help to establish collective social sustainability in the region. We are looking for your support in sharing and reviewing these identified priorities with you as we develop this guiding framework for improving social wellness, increasing resiliency, and ensuring collective social sustainability in our community. 

A summary of the social sustainability priorities is on display in the concourse at MacDonald Island. You are invited to drop by, share your thoughts and chat with members of the project team. Join us:

  • Friday April 13 from 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
  • Saturday April 14 from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

If you are unable to drop by in person, you are invited to share your thoughts on the priorities by emailing us at


1. Strengthening Social Infrastructure

  • Housing
  • Poverty reduction and food security
  • Barrier free community
  • Engaged and connected communities and neighbourhoods
  • Accessible public community spaces
  • Positive RMWB image

2. Align and Support Community Capacity

  • Focus on prevention
  • Neighbourhood and community building
  • Effective education and awareness
  • Focus agencies and organizations
  • Identify funding priorities and options
  • Evaluation and results based planning
  • Education

​3. Support to Families and Individuals

  • Mental health support
  • Parenting programs and supports
  • Childcare opportunities
  • Support for persons experiencing abuse and family violence
  • Personal development opportunities
  • Focus on approach to youth engagement

4. Wood Buffalo Community Culture

  • Active engagement of culturally diverse newcomers
  • Broad opportunities for culture opportunities and appreciation
  • Support the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendations
  • Increased arts and culture opportunities in the region

5. Youth Engagement and Participation

  • Engage youth in the planning and operation of programs, events and facilities intended for youth
  • Create region wide opportunities for recognition of youth contribution to the community
  • Increase communication through media preferred by youth
  • Assist youth in developing youth specific activities and events 
  • Engage youth in identifying and developing non-organized recreation activities and opportunities in arts and culture
  • Work with youth to assist them in engaging sponsors and funding sources

6. Community Transportation and Access

  • Continue to consult with rural and Indigenous residents concerning transportation needs, scheduling and accessibility
  • Access to social programs and services
  • Discuss with youth in the region their needs around school and non-school transportation

7. Supporting Diversity in the Region

  • Connecting new residents from other cultures
  • Engage multi-cultural perspectives in planning and implementing events, programs and services.
  • Align with the Diversity and Inclusion Community Plan.
  • Support the implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action 
  • Create “gathering places” to express and celebrate their culture and traditions
  • Design features in all communities that express the region’s values around diversity and inclusion.


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


  • 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.
  • More than 50 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.
  • A youth engagement was held on Feb. 2 at the Justin Slade Youth Foundation in partnership with MACOY.
  • Rural working group sessions coordinated by the Indigenous and Rural Relations Department were held in Jan. - Feb. 2018 in Anzac, Janvier, Conklin, and Fort Chipewyan; a project overview was provided to Saprae Creek and an invitation to participate was presented to Fort McKay.
  • On Jan. 30, 2018 Council approved the new Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo Strategic Plan. The strategic plan includes the SSP under strategy 1i – Partnerships with Social Profits.
  • On Jan. 31, 2018 a project update and thank you was sent to all residents, stakeholders, and agencies who participated in the SSP sessions to date and provided invaluable input.
  • Next steps include identifying priorities based on community and stakeholder input and on the document review and drafting the SSP report.
  • A public open house will be held in March-April 2018 to gather feedback.

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