Implementation Dynamics for Sustainability Planning in Rural Canada


  • Glen T Hvenegaard University of Alberta
  • Lars K Hallstrom University of Alberta – Augustana Campus Alberta Centre for Sustainable Rural Communities Camrose, Alberta, Canada
  • Kelaine LP Brand University of Alberta – Augustana Campus Camrose, Alberta, Canada


Many municipalities across Canada have prepared sustainability plans, but there is limited knowledge about the extent to which actions in those plans have been implemented. Based on 40 semi-structured interviews with rural leaders across Canada, we examined sustainability priority areas, rates of implementing actions, and the factors supporting and hindering implementation. Within the 5-dimension model for sustainability, the target areas, based on priorities and actions identified, were economic, environmental, and social dimensions, but governance was perceived to be important to facilitate the others. More than 75% of the sustainability actions had been completed. The key reasons for completion were community priorities, political will, available capacity, and available funding. The key reasons for non-completion were lack of capacity, lack of funding, lack of political will, and the lack of community priorities. Keywords: Sustainability planning; Canada; priorities; implementation; citizen engagement