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2005 Energy — Co-winner 1

Town of Craik and Rural Municipality of Craik, Saskatchewan

Craik Sustainable Living Project (CLSP)

Combined Population: 745

From its recycled timber posts and beams and strawbale walls, to its passive solar and geothermal heating system, the Craik Sustainable Living Project (CSLP) Eco-Centre is a model of sustainability. The facility has environmental education and general meeting areas and will generate its own revenue by leasing space. The building features a rainwater capture system, composting toilets, environmentally friendly interior finishing techniques and a host of other environmentally friendly practices. It will also form an integral part of Craik's ecovillage project, which involves the construction of about a dozen energy-efficient alternative homes next to the Eco-Centre.

Background

In early 2000, the Town of Craik and the Rural Municipality of Craik recognized that their populations were declining and the two municipalities had been slowly losing businesses to other parts of the province. "It was a slow decline and there was no immediate danger," says Mayor Rod Haugerud. "But we could see that we'd be getting there a few years down the road."

The town and rural municipal councils initially believed that building up their tourism sector could be a way to halt the decline. Craik is located near one of the busiest highways in Saskatchewan, between Saskatoon and Regina, so the councils began looking at how they could draw tourists to their town. It was around this time that they met Dr. Lynn Oliphant, a retired professor who works with the Prairie Institute for Human Ecology on approaches to sustainability.

It was perfect timing. Dr. Oliphant's idea to construct an ecologically sensitive community building and an ecovillage resonated with town officials and a local community group, the Mid-Lakes Community Coalition, of which the town was a member.

Results

  • Using local workers and resources reduced costs, stimulated Craik's economy and created new jobs in the Eco-Centre's restaurant, meeting centre and gift shop. The estimated payback period is between five and six years.
  • A LEED-certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) technician will monitor the building over the next two years to assess its performance. "Compared to our ice rink, the Eco-Centre is using only about one-fifth the energy," says Mayor Haugerud. "Also, when we speak with people in the restaurant business, they say we should be averaging 4,500 to 5,600 litres of water per day, but we're using only 1,000 litres."
  • Tourism has increased considerably. "We thought winter would be our downtime, but there's been a lot of activity," says Mr. Hymers.
  • Dr. Oliphant won the 2005 Canadian Environment Award in the Sustainable Living category for his work on the CSLP. The awards are an annual event sponsored by Canadian Geographic magazine.

Lessons Learned

  • ENSURE THAT FUNDING IS IN PLACE. Although Mayor Haugerud admits that Craik has a history of doing things a bit differently, he advises other municipalities considering similar ventures to secure financing before starting any project. "In hindsight, we should have had more funding before we began, but we also ran the risk of being left out if we didn't forge ahead," he says.
  • DEVELOP COMMUNITY CHAMPIONS. The town and municipal councils and the mayor showed excellent leadership throughout the project, which was a major factor in engaging the wider community, Ms. Eade says.
  • ENGAGE THE COMMUNITY EARLY AND OFTEN. Mobilizing a smaller population can often be easier since there may be more opportunities to reach them through word-of-mouth, town meetings and local newspapers. "I find that the smaller the community the more volunteerism there is because people realize that no one else will do the work," says Mr. Hymers. "We're proof that it can be done." Regular town meetings and workshops are an ongoing part of Craik's strategy to keep the public informed.
  • TAKE CHANCES. Mayor Haugerud says that when he speaks with officials from other communities, he often hears that they are afraid to try anything in case they fail. But if they do nothing they will fail. "Since our successes with the CSLP, we think we can take on the world now and we aren't afraid to try," he says.

Partners and Collaboration

Internal

  • Councils of the Town of Craik and the Rural Municipality of Craik

External

  • Hundreds of community residents
  • Sask Lotteries Community Initiatives Fund
  • Mid-Lakes Community Coalition
  • Sask Water
  • Natural Resources Canada
  • Investors' Group
  • Help International
  • Green Municipal Fund
Page Updated: 21/12/2015