Research

Project Updates and Resources

CIRC is currently working on a suite of research projects that have emerged in response to concerns and issues voiced by communities in northern BC. Many of the following projects are happening in partnership with various agencies with interest in cumulative impacts in northern BC. More information about these projects, including relevant updates and resources, can be found in the following project overviews.

Cumulative Impacts Living Library

This year we launched the Cumulative Impacts Living Library in an effort to 'take notice' of the many projects and perspectives on cumulative impacts across the province, Canada and the world. The platform is a community-driven, online database of projects and resources related to the cumulative impacts of resource development across northern BC. We invite you to explore the site, add your own unique resources, and to connect to other allied organizations. For more information, please visit: http://cumulativeimpactslivinglibrary.ca/

Exploring the community impacts of unconventional natural gas development in northern BC: A scoping review

With funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the CIRC conducted a knowledge synthesis of the community impacts of unconventional natural gas development for 'upstream' gas producing regions, 'midstream' transportation areas, and 'downstream' processing and export communities. We utilized a scoping review methodology to review the scientific evidence on the development of unconventional natural gas in order to better understand and forecast possible community impacts for BC's northern communities. These include, but are not limited to changes in housing, labour, and infrastructure, and the provision of social services. A preliminary report on governance, regulatory and policy solutions is available below. In the coming months, we will be producing several additional reports with targeted information on the socioeconomic impacts of unconventional natural gas development. For more information, please see the project description below:

Developing best practices in socioeconomic and health indicator development

In conjunction with Northern Health and the Provincial Health Services Authority, this project aims to develop a better understanding of the health benefits and risks associated with resource development activities in northern British Columbia, within the jurisdiction of Northern Health. It will inform existing knowledge gaps related to best practices in socioeconomic and health indicator development relevant to public health surveillance and monitoring, and examine best practices in the development of socioeconomic indicators. For more information, please see the project description below:

Developing new tools to assist communities in assessing, monitoring and planning for the cumulative impacts of resource development

With funding from the Real Estate Foundation of BC, this project is specifically oriented towards broad and inclusive public engagement to conceptualize the next generation of cumulative impact assessment tools capable of integrating environmental, community, and health values to support local and regional monitoring activities and associated decision-making processes, and help address on the ground capacity issues. Through a combination of literature reviews and community engagement activities with three case study communities, this project seeks to integrate diverse forms of knowledge into a more holistic understanding of how resource development operations both positively and negatively influence rural and remote areas of northern BC. The tools produced will be publicly available, and are intended to support community members and community decision-makers in assessing, monitoring, and managing changes to local environmental, socioeconomic, and health values. For more information, please see the project description below:

Examining the ‘state of the art’ of cumulative effects policy through an interjurisdictional comparative case study

With funding from the UNBC General Research Fund, this project will compare BC’s emerging Cumulative Effects Framework with other provincial, national, and international best practices in cumulative effects assessment to extract lessons for the continued development of the provincial policy framework. Ultimately, this project seeks to strengthen BC’s cumulative effects assessment and monitoring processes in order to enhance the sustainability of communities and ecosystems across the province. For more information, please see the project description below:

The ECHO Network (Environment, Community, Health Observatory): Strengthening intersectoral capacity to understand and respond to the health impacts of resource development

Responding to the health impacts of resource development requires thorough observation and nuanced analysis of the interrelated socioeconomic, ecological, cultural, and political pathways that influence health in regions in which communities and resource development operations coexist. The ECHO Network is a 5-year research program, funded by a Canadian Institutes of Health Research Team Grant, focused on working together across sectors to take notice of- and respond to- the influence of resource development on health and well-being, with specific emphasis on rural, remote and Indigenous communities and environments. This project brings together university researchers and research partners across Canada and internationally, who have identified a need to better understand and address the health, environment and community impacts of resource development. The ECHO Network will be anchored in four regional cases across Canada actively grappling with the health impacts of resource development, including the New Brunswick Children, Environment and Health Collaborative (NB), the Battle River Watershed Alliance (AB), First Nations Health Authority (BC), and Northern Health (BC). CIRC staff are pleased to be working with Northern Health as one of the four regional cases through which integrative strategies and tools will be developed to address cumulative health, community, and environmental impacts in northern BC. For more information, please see the project description below:

The Health Impacts of Resource Extraction and Development (HIRED)

The Health Impacts of Resource Extraction and Development (HIRED) project was developed as a joint initiative between Northern Health and the UNBC Health Research Institute to conduct focused research on the health impacts of resource extraction and development. The overarching aim for the HIRED project is to determine how the public health impacts of resource development are understood and addressed and how these approaches can be applied and adapted to the specific context of northern BC. This project will provide Northern Health with a scoping review of the evidence on the health impacts of mining/oil and gas; several systematic reviews on related sub-topics (e.g. mental health impacts of resource development); and a meta-narrative analysis that will describe the existing evidence base and provide Northern Health with a foundation from which to review program delivery across the region. For more information, please see the project description below:

Understanding health equity and resource development (UnHEARD)

In order to better understand the potential health impacts of resource extraction and development, and especially the potential impacts for vulnerable populations, this project will review promising international health impact assessment (HIA) methodologies. Through a series of knowledge syntheses, this project seeks to provide more comprehensive tools and information to better understand the potential health impacts of resource extraction and development, and work to develop more comprehensive HIA processes that explicitly consider health equity. For more information, please see the project description below:

You can also view a research presentation on this emerging work, 'New horizons in health impact assessment' here. (Buse C, 2018, January 15, UNBC Health Research Institute Symposia, Prince George BC)

Whose brownfields count? Effective brownfield remediation strategies for rural and remote communities

BC’s rural and remote communities are often home to significant industrial development activities that leave lasting land-use legacies in the form of brownfield sites. Brownfields—defined as “abandoned, vacant, derelict or underutilized commercial and industrial properties where past actions have resulted in actual or perceived contamination and where there is an active potential for redevelopment”— are often located in key locations within rural, resource-reliant communities (National Roundtable for the Economy and Environment, 2003). Despite significant financing opportunities for brownfield remediation in urban areas and associated decision-support tools, significantly less attention has been directed to what the provincial government refers to as ‘bottom tier’ brownfield sites. This project seeks to identify challenges and opportunities for brownfield redevelopment in rural and remote, resource-reliant communities. For more information, please see the project description below:

Climate change communication and engagement in Canada's Provincial Norths

Climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing humanity, with widespread anticipated and already occurring social, economic, and ecological impacts. However, there is a general lack of concerted action in response to climate change, both in Canada and globally. To mobilize climate action, citizen engagement and support from the public is imperative, beginning with effective communication around anticipated climate change impacts and potential solutions. In order to usefully promote engagement and action in response to climate change, communication strategies must consider unique local and regional contexts. Climate change research and outreach in Canada, however, particularly focuses on major urban centres (predominantly located in southern regions) and in the Canadian Arctic. Given this gap in research and application, this project focuses on climate change communication in Canada’s Provincial Norths. For more information, please see the project description below: