Current Issues

Here are GEA’s current Research Action Teams:

  • The Living Incomes Action Team focuses on efforts to increase access to job-training, expand the number of living wage jobs, and increase income supports for those unable to work.
  • The Mental Health Action Team focuses on increasing access to mental health and addiction recovery resources as well as other ways to reduce adverse stress.
  • The Community Building and Member Engagement Team focuses on increasing participation in faith, labour and civil sector organizations and assisting them in building respectful relationships and a strong sense of community.

GEA-Supported Senior Care Program in Pilot Phase

Do you remember the GEA seniors house meetings that were held in our church a couple of few years back? The discussions we had concerning how to keep seniors safe at home for a longer time?

To respond to these concerns, the GEA Senior Care team compiled statistics, created The Age Wave document, met with Provincial ministers and City Council representatives, and presented our recommendations.

GEA also met with Sheila Hallet, Executive director of the Edmonton Seniors Coordinating Council, and discovered that the Council was developing a program consistent with GEA’s recommendations.

GEA gave its full support to the Coordinating Council initiative. The result: the ‘Seniors Home Supports Program’, a pilot project that the City of Edmonton has agreed to fund for three years.

It is now in its second year. Your work, insights, and recommendations paid off!

What is the Home Support Program?

  • City is divided into six districts, each containing a community seniors organization
  • Each organization has staffed a Home Supports Coordinator to facilitate the program
  • Services arranged for seniors: housekeeping (vacuum, wash floors, clean bathrooms, do laundry, dust, clean the fridge) , yard care (mow lawn and do spring/fall clean-up, not including removal of animal waste, weeding gardens or planting flowers), snow removal (remove snow and put down anti-slip material to cover icy spots, not chipping ice), minor home repairs (clean eaves troughs, repair gate/fence and stair/handrail, change light bulbs, replace door knobs, repair flooring, install grab bars, clean windows without removing windows)
  • Each co-ordinator interviews private businesses and not for profit groups and individuals who potentially will provide the services, and builds a referral list
  • Seniors can get referrals to service providers by contacting or visiting the community seniors organization in their district.

Because this program is currently a pilot, its future depends on how well it is used. We want it to become permanent, so getting the word out is crucial.

Who Do I Contact?
Based on your postal code, contact the organization that serves your district.

District Organization Phone Number Postal Code
West Westend Seniors Activity Centre 780-483-1209 T5M, T5N, T5P, T5R, T5S, T5T, T6M, T5V
North West North West Edmonton Seniors Society 780-482-1958 T5E, T5G, T5H, T5J, T5K, T5L, T5X, T6V
North East North Edmonton Seniors Association 780-944-7470 T5A, T5B, T5C, T5W, T5Z, T6S, T5Y
South East South East Edmonton Seniors Association 780-468-1985 T6A, T6B, T6C, T6E, T6P
Mill Woods Mill Woods Seniors Activity Centre 780-496-2997 T6K, T6L, T6N, T6T, T6X
South West Lifestyle Helping Hands Seniors Association 780-450-2113 T6G, T6H, T6J, T6R, T6W

For more information visit www.seniorshomesupports.com

Listening Campaign Launched! Here is the Timeline

Thank you who all who attended the Listening Campaign Launch in September.  It was a great start to the exciting listening starting in our organizations.

Listening launch
Check out more photos on Facebook

Listening campaigns are important work.  We know how valuable it can be for individuals to be able to talk with others about the pressures they’re feeling, to know that others care, and to build deeper relationships among our members.

The listening campaign will continue on the following timeline.

Leaders Check-In Meeting
Friday, December 2 – 9:30 – 10:30 AM, Catholic Archdiocese Pastoral Centre, 8421 101 Ave. Northwest, Edmonton
We will check in on the how the Listening is going for those who have the process underway and share strategies for those who are still planning or about to start.

GEA-wide Discernment Assembly
Wednesday, February 15 – 7:00 – 8:30 PM, Location TBA
We look at everything that surfaced during the Listening process, prioritize the problems we want to act on together, and launch Research-Action Teams to begin the work of developing concrete action proposals and campaign plans.

Organizing Fundamentals
Thursday, March 2 – 6:00 – 9:00 PM, Location TBA
We will provide an abbreviated introductory training on GEA / IAF principles and practices as a pre-requisite for anyone who will be participating in the Research Action Teams, and who has not yet attended a GEA Leadership Institute.

Research-Action Team Training
Date and Location TBA
We will convene all of the Research Action Teams together for a joint initial training.  We will then break  into teams to figure out first next steps and meeting dates.

We look forward to working with all of you to create a better Edmonton / Alberta for everyone! Please contact us if you have questions or need more information.

Spring 2015 Senior’s Team Update

Seniors Team Update Spring 2015

The Seniors Team is organizing our next round of house meetings.  Their focus is enabling seniors to remain in their homes for as long as possible. With the imminent Provincial Election, the Seniors Team’s is working to keep their issues front and centre, as the media focuses on the economy and the credibility of the current government.

We need to keep seniors issues up front.    The Seniors Team has identified three key areas of services:

  • Personal supports – housekeeping, cleaning, gardening, snow shovelling and small repairs.
  • Mobility and safety – transportation, grocery shopping, financial aid
  • Connectedness – social isolation, loneliness, poor access to health and social services.

The seniors identified that although they tend to be asset rich, they are income poor.  It is clear that Federal and Provincial median income to qualify for financial assistance is too high, for “middle income” seniors to qualify for support.    Alberta Health’s 2010 policy framework for an ageing population states as a goal to “increase the supply and range of home care and community care services to assist Albertans to receive services in the community.”

The question is whether we have the imagination to understand that or whether we will continue to pretend that the slack will be picked up through the ever-decreasing volunteer sector and decreasing social capital.  We can choose to put some key soft supports in place which in a short while will pay for themselves or we can wait until the medical costs overwhelm us.  It is time for action, its time for our system to evolve!

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Our Members!

We are very grateful to our member institutions for their leadership and support:

To become a member, please email joe@iafnw.org.

Another inspiration local food resource! Fruits of Sherbrooke wine tasting April 20th!

http://blogs.edmontonjournal.com/2013/03/27/fruits-of-sherbrooke-plans-fundraiser-and-ambitious-expansion/

Local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)

Are you interested in supporting local producers?  One of the most direct ways to support local producers is to participate in a Community Supported Agriculture program or CSA. There are many diverse offerings across the province and in our own region. You can participate in CSAs that produce a wide range of produce, as well as meat and eggs. Some provide the opportunity to visit and help on the farm. CSAs make it possible to share the risk and reward of small scale local sustainable farming. Consider joining one (or more) today!

There are a number of wonderful CSA programs in Alberta. You can find them here: http://www.csaalberta.com/

Here are two great local CSAs and we will continue to add more!

Riverbend Gardens in North East Edmonton is well-known for their fresh local produce.  Janelle and her family have farmed in the area for many generations. They have recently expanded their offerings to include a CSA program. www.riverbendgardens.ca

Sparrow’s Nest Organics is our region’s longest running CSA! Located near Opal, AB  Graham Sparrow and Allison Landin have grown certified organic vegetables for over 10 years. www.sparroworganics.com

Thank you to the Community Spirit Grant Program!

The Greater Edmonton Alliance is very grateful to the Community Spirit Grant Program for it’s support over the last year! This grant has helped us continue our work of educating and engaging citizens and building new leaders in our community. Many Thanks to the Community Spirit Grant Program for this essential support!

10 Fast Facts on Food Security & Food Justice & Food Sovereignty in Edmonton

  • There are market gardens, Upicks, nurseries and greenhouses in Northeast Edmonton that want to keep growing food, trees and shrubs for generations to come. Average net profit per acre: Edmonton average net profit per acre at $79.68 is over double of anywhere else in the Capital Region. NE Edmonton average net profit per acre is $270.72. Five Counties in Capital Region range in net profit per acre from $6.65 ‐ $38.07 (2).
  • Eating our fruits and veggies is good for us and the earth. 19% of our ecological footprint is tied to food consumption. “Purchasing locally produced food is the most significant way to reduce the food footprint”9 8 of 10 of leading causes of death in Canada is diet‐related. Obesity costs Canada’s health care system an estimated $ 1.8 billion annually(10).
  • Every hectare of farmland lost now increases future hunger. “We can’t afford to lose more farmland. Fifty years from now, every hectare of agricultural land will be crucial. As it becomes increasingly expensive to get food produced elsewhere to the people, it will become increasingly attractive to take food production to the people – i.e., the cities”. In the most intensively farmed areas, it takes 0.2 ha of land to support each person. By 2050, the world’s available cropland per person drops down to less than 0.1 ha per person. (1)
  • Farmland is far too scarce a resource to be squandered. Only 5% of Canada’s land is not hampered by severe constraints for crop production and only 0.5% of land is Class 1 soil(2). In Alberta, 17% of land is good for farming, most of that is in Canada’s most rapidly urbanizing Edmonton to Calgary corridor along with 75% of Alberta’s population (3). The Capital Region has 733,000 hectares of Class 1, 2, 3 farmland—none of this has been identified for preservation (8).
  • Edmonton currently uses 1.8 global hectares per person to meet its food needs.(9) Population is expected to rise to between 1.2 and 1.5 million in the next 30 years. This would leave 0.5 – 0.6 ha per person, less than half of what we currently use to feed ourselves.
  • The state of farmland in Edmonton. In Edmonton, the total number of farms reporting agricultural activities has decreased from 170 farms in 2006 to 73 farms in 2011, a 57% decrease over the five‐year time period. Total area – 66548 acres in 2006 down to 13011 in 2011 (80% reduction).
  •  “Increasing numbers of Canadians are experiencing food shortages. Food bank use in Canada was up 10% between 1999 and 2010, and in post‐boom Alberta it rose 61% between 2008 and 2010. This is often framed as an economic problem rather than a food system problem. The fact is the inequities experienced are in large part an artifact of the global food system. Land ownership increasingly concentrated in hands of a few, plus more and more parts of food system in corporate ownership exacerbates this”(4).
  • We are going to need a more locally grown food supply sooner than later. Economists and food system analysts are telling us that there is currently only a two to three day supply of food in our city’s grocery stores (5). Most of our imported vegetables and fruits are from areas highly dependent on a reliable water source, consistent weather temperature and cheap transportation. As climate change impacts are felt globally this in turn will impact both the reliability and the cost of the foods that we currently have relatively easy and cheap access to. The most important river to our current supply of fresh vegetables is the Colorado River and it is in peril.
  • Our fruits and vegetables are being bred to travel not for nutrition. At the Food in the City conference that the City of Edmonton hosted in May 2012, Jim Hole, one of the keynote speakers told us about the carrot test. He said that carrots are being bred to travel. You should be able to drop a carrot from the height of your shoulder and it should break. Imported carrots need to be durable according to him.
  • The world faces a new food economy that likely involves both higher and more volatile food prices, and evidence of both phenomena was on view in 2011. After the food price crisis of 2007–08, food prices started rising again in June 2010, with international prices of maize and wheat roughly doubling by May 2011”(6).
  • We are losing farmers at an alarming rate. Between 1991 and 2006, the number of young farmers (under the age of 35) decreased by 62%. In that same period we have moved from one farm in every four having a young farmer on it to today, just one farm in eight. This is largely because of the farm income crisis. While the total value of the grains and livestock and vegetables and other food products grown and raised by Canadian farmers since 1985 is three quarters of a trillion dollars, the total of farmers’ net income from the markets (farms support payments excluded) over that same time period is zero (7).

1. Montgomery, David. 2007. Dirt: The Erosion of Civilization. Berkeley: University of California Press.
2. City of Edmonton. June 23, 29, 2009. Background Report Attachment 1. Additional Information: Parts 1, 2, and 3.
3. Mah, Kevin. 2008. This land is our land. St. Albert Gazette. November 1.
4. Weibe, Nettie and Kevin Wipf. 2011. Nurturing Food Soveregnty in Canada. in Food Sovereignty in Canada: Creating Just and Sustainable Food Systems. Hannah Wittman et. al eds. Winnipeg: Fernwood Publishing.
5. Cockrall‐King, Jennifer. 2012. Food and the City: Urban Agriculture and the New Food Revolution. Prometheus Books.
6. Torero, Maximo. 2012. Food Prices: Riding the Rollercoaster.
7. Qualman, Darrin (2011). Advancing Agriculture by Destroying Farms? The State of Agriculture in Canada. in Food Sovereignty in Canada: Creating Just and Sustainable Food Systems. Hannah Wittman et. al eds. Winnipeg: Fernwood Publishing.
8.City of Edmonton. 2012. Agricultural Inventory and Assessment – Citywide Food and Agriculture Strategy.
9.Wilson, Jeffrey and Mark Anielski. 2005. Ecological Footprints of Canadian Municipalities and Regions. The Canadian Federation of Canadian Municipalities.
10. Statistics Canada, 2009.

7 Facts on Shifting Demographics, the City’s Growth and Preserving Farmland

You have heard lots of discussion about the need to sacrifice farmland in northeast Edmonton to meet the needs of a population projected to increase from 812,000 to 1.2 million people by 2040 requiring 146,000 new housing units. But here is the part of the story you haven’t heard about the demographic shift.

• The City’s Growth Coordination Strategy indicates we already have enough land approved for development to meet the next 25 years of housing demand.

• City economist John Rose said in December 2012 that Edmonton region could reach 1.5 million people within a decade if the working-age population keeps rising at its current pace. But in a year-end interview with media, he noted that “most of the people coming to Edmonton are in their prime working years, from their late 20s to late 40s, and many want to live in apartments, condos and townhouses rather than traditional suburban bungalows”(1).

• Financial post columnist Jason Heath also noted the demographic shift where “the Baby Boomer is likely to sell the 3,000 square foot, 4-bedroom home they raised their family in and instead opt for a 1,500 square foot condo before long”(2). Rod Carrick in the Globe and Mail agrees “Now, as they start entering retirement, boomers aren’t buying houses any more and the younger generation isn’t large enough to pick up the slack”(3).

• A report from Great West Life Realty Advisors in 2010 concluded that economic, demographic and social shifts in Canada are re-shaping housing preferences increasing the popularity of multi-family and apartment living. The report notes that the younger generation seems to have less interest in automotive use, making “apartment living in dense, walkable and transit-oriented urban areas a more natural fit for their lifestyles.” And while population growth may continue through immigration, as the report points out, many immigrants also grew up in dense urban environments (4).

• Jennifer Keesmaat, Chief Planner for the City of Toronto, described four shifting demographics that are impacting both housing and the way Toronto is developing: family size is decreasing, people are living longer, 19 to 35 year olds are choosing to live downtown and are not moving to the suburbs like previous generations and more people are choosing to live alone. She also described the largest cohort as being the 19 to 35 olds. They are avoiding the suburbs for quicker commute times and are seeking housing close to amenities, workplaces and transit and situated in mixed use communities(5).

• In that same presentation, Keesmaat indicated that what had the greatest impact on curbing urban sprawl in the Greater Toronto Area was a land use policy decision, i.e. the creation of the Greenbelt, NOT a market decision(5).

• If we are going to densify the urban core, mature neighbourhoods and new neighbourhoods with mid to high density condos, we will need some condos that are family friendly. Otherwise we will have very unbalanced and unhealthy neighbourhoods. Condos with two or more bedrooms, access to private outdoor space, superior soundproofing, and sufficient bulk storage will be needed so that we have a variety of household sizes living in all parts of the city (6).

The proposed Horse Hill Area Structure Plan would convert prime farmland into more low density residential and retail development. Such urban sprawl is hardly “smart growth” in a time of major demographic shifts and a re-ordering of housing preferences among both the boomers and the younger generations.

References

1. Kent,Gordon (2012) Edmonton’s working-age population is on the rise city economist says. Edmonton Journal, December 19.
http://www.edmontonjournal.com/business/Edmonton+working+population+rise+city+economist+says/7723362/story.html
2. Heath, Jason (2012) How house prices depend on demographics Financial Post, Octobr 30.
http://business.financialpost.com/2012/10/30/how-house-prices-depend-on-demographics/
3. Carrick, Rob (2012) Canada’s housing market : a victim of demographics Globe and Mail December 10.
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-investor/personal-finance/mortgages/canadas-housing-market-a-victim-ofdemographics/
article6185296/
4. Great West Life Realty Advisors (2010) Drivers of apartment -living in Canada for the twenty-first century, September.
http://www.gwlrealtyadvisors.com/GWLRA/CNTAsset/Drivers_of_21st_century_apt_living[1].pdf
5. Jennifer Keesmaat, Placemaking and the Politics of Planning. City-Region Studies Centre: Regional Planning Speakers Series
podcast. http://www.crsc.ualberta.ca/EventsArchive/2013-01-22PlaceMakingandthePoliticsofPlanningJenniferKeesmaat.aspx
6. Elise Stolte, Kids Help Balance a Community advocate says, Edmonton Journal September 19. 2011.
http://www2.canada.com/edmontonjournal/news/archives/story.html?id=6c5f9aa4-8218-4167-a15d-0c4ad702daef