By Jazmine Larocque, Community Sustainability Manager
Jump starting conversations regarding energy transitions can be tricky, but for the community of Hinton Alberta, which was the first of potentially many, it was a great success! A small group of individuals from many backgrounds came to participate in the initial community event where topics of income security, transition and climate change were tackled. Participants challenged each other with different points of view but were also pleasantly surprised about the accepting atmosphere throughout the event.
Being a local and a facilitator was an uplifting experience being able to initiate an open conversation to my community, so they might be able to have a voice in the changes that could impact our community. It brought me a strong sense of community during the event, as we were all able to relate on our experiences and background with the area. The community members' struggles are valid and through this conversation we were able to validate and give space for concerns we see within the community. The concerns are universal though as many of the topics brought up are common across the province, nation and world which is foundational for the importance of having future conversation.
For communities that rely on non-renewable industries for income security, the thought of energy transition can be a worrying concept. Many individuals and families need the income from these industries to support their necessities to live. For transition to be just, there needs to be a consideration for the income that these workers need to make ends meet.
The community was introduced to less controversial concepts by us and were able to bring up more topics as they felt comfortable. Participants had conversations surrounding struggling industries, environmental impacts to the community, weather changings, adopting new renewable projects and being involved with their local government decisions.
Conversations like these can be great catalysts for future conversations and give foundation to how potential conversations should be approached. As well this gives people who are affected by transition a voice on how transition can be just and inclusive for them. Rural communities like Hinton depend on industries commonly included in the transition discussion, and it's important to humanize the transition conversation to include the hard workers caught in the process trying to make ends meet. Hinton has a great foundation and a history of some diversity in their economy so like many of these communities there is great potential for transition that is just and inclusive to all.
You can read our full report here.