The Community Development Institute (CDI) at UNBC was established in 2004 with a broad mandate in the areas of community, regional, and economic development. Since its inception, the CDI has worked with communities across the northern and central regions of British Columbia to develop and implement strategies for economic diversification and community resilience.

Dedicated to understanding and realizing the potential of BC’s non-metropolitan communities in a changing global economy, the CDI works to prepare students and practitioners for leadership roles in community and economic development, and to create a body of knowledge, information, and research that will enhance our understanding and our ability to deal with the impacts of ongoing transformation. The Community Development Institute is committed to working with all communities – Indigenous and non-Indigenous – to help them further their aspirations in community and regional development.

October 2020

Building Foundations coverThe CDI released a final report on housing; Building Foundations for the Future: Housing, community development, and economic opportunity in non-metropolitan Canada, by Marleen Morris, Julia Good, and Greg Halseth.

The research used Statistics Canada’s Census program data for non-metropolitan communities, defined as communities and regions with a population of under 100,000. The study found that there is a housing gap in non-metropolitan Canada; a housing gap that is holding back economic and community development opportunities. While demographic aging, the growth of one- and two-person households, and the trend to smaller family sizes point to the need for a diverse range of smaller homes, housing stock in non-metropolitan communities remains comprised predominantly of large single-detached homes that were constructed before 1980. These homes are not energy efficient, do not have the features people are looking for today, are not accessible, and are more likely to be in need of major repairs.

July 21, 2020

Greg Halseth

Dr. Greg Halseth, CDI Co-Director and Professor of Geography,  is embarking on the next phase of his research into rural and small-town Canada by focusing on the critical role of local government in responding to the forces re-shaping resource-dependent communities and economies.

For further details, visit Small towns, big futures.

May 25, 2020

Marleen Morris

Marleen Morris, Co-Director of the Community Development Institute at UNBC presented a preliminary report on Rural Housing in Canada to the Federal/Provincial/Territorial Housing Research Working Group. Understanding that housing is a critical building block for community and economic development, the CDI has focused its research on understanding the issues, needs, and potential of rural and northern housing. Based on our team’s long-standing background in housing, and through a number of commissioned housing studies in northern British Columbia communities in recent years, the CDI began to recognize patterns across rural housing issues that spans all provinces and territories across Canada. The data collected tells a consistent story of an existing or imminent housing need and crisis throughout rural Canada.

May 21, 2020

Greg Halseth, UNBC Professor of Geography, Canada Research Chair in Rural and Small Town Studies, and Co-Director of the Community Development Institute was invited to participate in a virtual round table with Maryam Monsef, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development.


The round table discussed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on rural regions of the country and strategies for economic and community recovery.

Greg Halseth

Maryam Monsef