Sustaining Social Democracy Through Heritage-Building Conservation
by Dr. Noel Keough, Dr. Mike Gismondi and Erin Swift-Leppäkumpu (published in 2016 in Scaling Up: The Convergence of Social Economy and Sustainability, Athabasca University Press)
In municipalities across Canada, many important heritage buildings have become homes for social economy organizations that use them for a variety of purposes from office space to affordable housing to women’s shelters to co-op radio stations and many more purposes. This chapter explores the various relationships between heritage conservation and the social economy. Several cases are presented.
Download the chapter for free. (Click on the tab for “free PDF”, then go down to chapter 9 in the list of chapters and click on the download button.)
Calgary Old Y heritage building has been the home of many social economy organizations over the years
Projects, Reports, Journal Articles and Other Resources
The Co-operative City
The Co-operative City is an initiative of BALTA’s partner, the B.C. Co-operative Association, and its former executive director, John Restakis. It is also being promoted by some of BALTA’s partners in the UK. The Co-operative City initiative is promoting municipal level strategies to build co-operation as a vehicle for social and economic sustainability.
Municipal Government Support of the Social Economy Sector
Research Project Lead: Jenny Kain, City of Edmonton
Student Research Assistants: Emma Sharkey, University of Victoria; Robyn Webb, University of Manitoba
Research Collaborators: Peter Hall, Simon Fraser University; Brendan Reimer, Canadian Community Economic Development Network (CCEDNet)
This project examined the range of ways in which municipal governments are engaging with and supporting the social economy. The research included municipalities in the Canadian provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario (northwestern portion of the province). The research identified a range of models of engagement and opportunities for strengthening the role of municipal governments in supporting the social economy. (This research was a joint initiative with the Saskatchewan/Manitoba/Northwestern Ontario node of the Canadian Social Economy Research Partnerships.)
Hinton and Grande Cache Sustainability Project
BALTA Researchers Involved: Dr. Mike Gismondi, Athabasca University; Dr. Jorge Sousa, University of Alberta
The resource-based, northern Alberta communities of Hinton and Grande Cache have each identified a crucial need to diversify their traditional economies and social structures. The current economic state of these municipalities is strong but their historic, resource-dependent economies – with their associated boom-and-bust cycles – are considered to be unsustainable for the longer term. Both communities wish to increase their economic diversity, entrepreneurial capacity, the cultural component of their communities, and their long term sustainability. Athabasca University worked with the communities to explore options for addressing these needs.
For further information about the project and copies of reports produced by the project, see the project website.
Unleashing Local Capital (ULC)
BALTA-linked researchers involved: Dr. Mike Gismondi and Juanita Marois, Athabasca University; Paul cabaj and Seth Leon, Alberta Community and Co-operative Association; BALTA staff, Danica Straith, also co-wrote a book chapter on Unleashing Local Capital
ULC was initiated and is managed by the Alberta Community and Co-operative Association. The project empowers rural Alberta communities to invest locally, direct their own economic development and reduce dependency on government supports by directing outward-bound investments towards local businesses, keeping local capital flowing through local communities. ULC educates communities on how to establish an Opportunity Development Co-operative (ODC) – a co-op that pools and manages capital raised from local investors, which is then invested in local businesses. ULC has also directly supported the development of ODCs in several communities. The development of ULC was based on BALTA research and BALTA researchers have supported ULC with research, resource development and evaluation.
Visit the Unleashing Local Capital website. The site includes information about ULC and ODC, including information about several ODCs that have already been formed.
Read reports on the earlier BALTA research that helped to inspire and lead to ULC:
- Nova Scotia Co-operative Development System Case Study (Phase One) – This project involved a case study of the Nova Scotia co-operative development system with a view to identifying its key elements and factors contributing to its success.
- Nova Scotia Co-operative Development System Case Study (Phase Two) – This project looked at the relevance of the Nova Scotia system for strengthening of the co-operative development systems in Alberta and British Columbia, Canada. An action research process involved key co-op actors in both provinces in assessing the strengths and weaknesses of the co-op development systems in each province and in identifying recommendations for improving the situation.
Vancouver Mayor’s Task Force on Housing Affordability and the Vancouver Community Land Trust Foundation
Research Leads: Mike Lewis, Canadian Centre for Community Renewal; Dr. Penelope Gurstein, University of British Columbia; David Lach, Co-operative Housing Federation of BC
Student Research Assistant: Kristin Patten, University of British Columbia
Mike Lewis, BALTA’s lead investigator, was appointed in 2011 as a member of the Vancouver Mayor’s Task Force on Housing Affordability. Through his participation, he was able to draw on BALTA research and educate the task force members about community land trusts (CLTs) as a vehicle for affordable housing. The Task Force recommended that the City of Vancouver provide support to CLTs to enhance housing affordability in Vancouver. Subsequently, Vancouver City Council approved support for a major CLT initiative to provide 358 units of non-market rental housing under the auspices of the Vancouver Community Land Trust Foundation (VCLTF), a consortium of non-profit organizations, social finance institutions and the municipal government. An initial case study of the VCLTF initiative was completed in 2015.