Authors: Shawna Stirrett and Stephanie Shewchuck

Bright Spots: Urban Environmental Initiatives in Western Canada showcases what is possible in the western Canadian context in order to set the stage for undertaking a critical analysis of what public policy conditions must be in place to encourage the effective use of urban environmental improvement tools in western Canada.

While no attempt has been made to find all the points of commonality among these examples, a number of common themes emerged:

  1. Economics and context matter to the success or failure of urban environmental initiatives;
  2. There is a normalization of environmental measures in cities as residents become more attuned to the importance of environmental management;
  3. Success leads to success and previous practice is very important in encouraging environmental change; and
  4. There are numerous public policy conditions that impact the success of initiatives and these must be examined in more detail.

In short, initiatives appear to be most successful when there is access to funding, when government and community support is present and where previous practice has emphasized the importance of the environmental dimension of decision-making. These ideas, as they become mainstream, are inspiring change in cities across the country.

Bright Spots is the second of three reports summarizing the results of the Canada West Foundation’s Missing Link project. As part of this project, the Canada West Foundation is holding the Bridging the Gap: Shifting Urban Environmental Ideas Into Action conference on September 25, 2012 in Calgary. The conference will bring together practitioners and stakeholders to explore the missing link between good ideas for improving the urban environment and the role of public policy in facilitating their implementation.