Research

Research

How would you determine our region’s vitality? The Columbia Basin Rural Development Institute at Selkirk College has established a four pillar approach that takes into account a wide range of factors to better understand our region. These four pillars of well-being – economic, social, cultural and environmental – each play an interrelated and vital role in our quality of life.

Within each pillar are a series of themes and a suite of indicators, which collectively serve to present an overall picture of our region’s vitality. These indicators provide the basis for the extensive applied research that the RDI undertakes, using data analysis to build an up-to-date and dynamic picture of the vitality of communities in the Columbia Basin Boundary region, as well as to better understand emerging trends. Information is reported in several formats as part of the State of the Basin Initiative, including Annual Snap Shot reports, Long Reports (released every 5 years following the Census) Trends Analysis Briefs, and the online Digital Basin portal.  Data layers are added to the Digital Basin on an ongoing basis as guided by the RDI Assets & Indicators Decisionmaking Process & Matrix.

 

RDI-Cultural-Logo.jpgCulture is a relatively new pillar in RDI’s State of the Basin well-being research. It is an area both difficult to define and understand because culture often means different things to different people. It is an individual, but also a collective; it is deeply personal, but also shared. Any understanding of culture involves our own sense of self and our connections to family and friends, broader ethnic and social groups, and our communities and region as a whole. RDI researchers have adopted a broad and inclusive approach to researching cultural well-being that takes into account a wide variety of factors and indicators. We ultimately recognise cultural well-being as the vitality that individuals and communities enjoy through participation in recreation, and creative and cultural activities, as well as the freedom to retain, interpret, and express our arts, history, heritage, and traditions. We generally experience a strong sense of cultural satisfaction when our desires for a shared sense of community and lifestyle are fulfilled. The cultural pillar has four themes under which research is being considered and developed: Arts, Heritage, Recreation, and Culture. RDI seeks to develop a ‘made in the Basin-Boundary’ approach that serves the needs and interests of the region. The instrumental and intrinsic values of a culture are acknowledged, and RDI intends to investigate both quantitative and qualitative measures of cultural well-being. Additional Resources (PDF): Cultural Indicators Literature Review

 RDI-Economy-Logo.jpgOf the many factors that collectively influence our level of well-being, there is one that resonates deeply with most families: the economy. It’s a common theme whenever we discuss the resources and services available in our communities or the ability of parents to provide for their children. And ultimately, the economy is affected by a diverse range of factors.

Our researchers study a wide variety of indicators when evaluating the state of the economy, and these are categorised according to four indicator themes: WorkforceSectors & Business ClimateInfrastructure & Transportation, and Housing.

When assessing economic vitality, researchers evaluate a series of macroeconomic topics including:

Sectors & Business Climate

 

  • Rates and revenues
  • Broken down by sector, such as: manufacturing, natural resources, retail etc.
  • Business start-ups and closures
Workforce

 

  • Wage rates
  • Unemployment rates
  • Skills development & education
  • Income & distribution
Infrastructure

 

  • Demand
  • Access
  • Condition/level of service
  • Affordability
Housing

 

  • Stock (dwelling types, tenure, vacancy)
  • Condition
  • Affordability

Once the information is gathered and analyzed for these four areas, the results provide a vivid and comprehensive understanding of our current economic landscape.

 

Additional Resources (PDF):

 

 From the quality of the air we breathe to the condition of the landscape where we live and work, we all experience the daily effects of the environment on our health and well-being. Residents of Columbia Basin Boundary communities already know we live in a beautiful part of the world, but it’s crucial, both for present and future generations, that we are aware of the state of the environment so that forthcoming policy decisions are well-informed.

Understanding our region’s environmental vitality involves research focused on themes that include BiodiversityLand (including food), Air (including climate), and Water. RDI researchers use current and historical data to track and compare trends in each of these areas. Once this information has been analyzed, researchers can draw conclusions regarding current environmental conditions, environmental risks, and future trends that will better inform regional policy-makers and stakeholders.

When assessing environmental vitality, researchers evaluate a series of topics that include:

Biodiversity

 

  • Species at risk
  • Invasive species
  • Human-wildlife interactions
Air

 

  • Climate
  • Emissions
  • Air quality
Land

 

  • Farming and food
  • Forests
  • Protected areas
  • Restoration
  • Threatened ecosystems
Water

 

  • Quantity
  • Quality
  • Steam flow timing

In recent years, a number of innovations have improved the ways that environmental data is tracked and utilized. Some of these improvements are owed to advancements in technology which have allowed for streamlined data collection and management. Others are due to new approaches in applied research that reflect the interconnections between environmental well-being and economic, social, and cultural conditions.

Additional Resources (PDF):

 

 There are a wide variety of dynamics that affect our social well-being, but the most consequential originate close to home. They also affect every member of our communities, from the youngest to oldest, right from the earliest stages of their development to their later years in life.

For the purpose of evaluating our social vitality, State of the Basin research is organised around four themes: DemographicsEducation & LearningCivic Engagement & Safety, and Wellness.

When assessing social vitality, researchers evaluate a series of social topics that would include:

Demographics

 

  • Population size
  • Population structure
  • Population distribution
Education & Learning

 

  • Educational attainment
  • Literacy
  • Access to ongoing learning opportunities
  • Readiness to learn
Civic Engagement & Safety

 

  • Volunteerism and advocacy
  • Voter turnout
  • Perceptions of belonging
  • Crime rates and perceptions of safety
Wellness

 

  • Health services
  • Health status
  • Poverty and homelessness
  • Gender and age equality

Once trends in our social structure are analysed for these four areas, results paint a vivid picture of the social conditions within our communities and region.

Additional Resources (PDF):

 

APPLIED RESEARCH

The fundamental goal of the Rural Development Institute at Selkirk College is to provide accurate and relevant tools and information to help foster a greater understanding of our collective vitality in the Columbia Basin Boundary region. At the centre of that mission stands a commitment to investigate, evaluate and learn through methods of applied research.

What is applied research? Simply put, applied research involves the application of innovative solutions to address practical problems and real-world needs. In the case of the RDI, applied research often involves the piloting of best practices approaches to address rural development needs and opportunities specific to our region. Applied research priorities are identified through RDI advisory groups and on-going consultation with economic, social, cultural and environmental stakeholders through the region.  Learn more about 2014-15 applied research priorities. 

 

 

 

The purpose of this applied research project is to better understand how local assets can be linked and leveraged to attract and retain new residents, workers, and investors. This research is positioned to advance regional efforts related to workforce attraction, business investment, regional marketing, and the desire expressed by communities to better understand how they can use community assets as an attraction and retention tool. The project was recommended by the RDI Regional Advisory Committee and feedback was provided by CBT staff. The Columbia Basin Rural Development Institute (RDI) recognized the opportunity to tie this asset-based work to the State of the Basin initiative. It is anticipated that the resulting local level asset suites will inform both the State of the Basin assets portfolio on the Digital Basin and the emerging asset-based strategies identified by individual communities and the region as a whole.

Phase 1: Project Scoping Meeting

A small working group of community stakeholders[1]  will come together to identify project goals and desired outcomes.  The working group will review the principles and possibilities of Asset-Based Rural Development (ABRD), what has been achieved in the community related to assets and community development, the target audience the community may be focussing on, and a discussion regarding a core suite of assets that: a) best position the community to understand the rural development climate, and b) create a baseline from which to measure progress against identified rural development goals (if applicable).  Phase 2 and 3 will be scoped at this meeting, including an identification of required resource requirements.  The outcomes of the meeting are a draft Collaborative Research MOU and details required to create both a research and knowledge mobilization plan.

Phase 2: Data Collection and Analysis

The Community Lead will work with the research team at the RDI to collect and analyze the prioritized data.  A Co-Op student will be available to provide data collection support to the pilot community.  Training for community-based researchers is also available as needed.  RDI will produce an Asset-Based Rural Development report, which will include baseline indicators to be used to measure performance against identified community development goals (if applicable).

Phase 3: Knowledge Mobilization

The report will be released and knowledge will be mobilized according to the knowledge mobilization plan that was scoped during Phase 1.  Knowledge mobilization activities could include but are not limited to, a press release, a webinar to share key findings, a community workshop to tie together research, planning, and future action.

* Phase 1 pilot communities include: East Shore Kootenay Lake, New Denver, and Canal Flats.

To learn more about Asset-Based Rural Development please access the Knowledge Briefs  below:

Knowledge Brief: What is Asset-Based Development

Knowledge Brief: Measuring and Evaluating Community Assets

Knowledge Brief: Identifying Assets for the Knowledge Economy

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[1] It is recommended a cross-section of 6-8 community members including a local government representative form the working group.

 

Business-Retention-And-Expansion.jpgWhere better to learn about the advantages and challenges faced by local businesses than from the business owners themselves?

Through a series of consultations with key economic development stakeholders and local businesses, the Rural Development Institute identified business retention and expansion (BRE) as a key economic priority in the Columbia Basin Boundary region. As a result, the RDI began partnering with economic development commissions, local governments, Community Futures, and Chambers of Commerce to gather information from businesses. “The RDI’s mandate is to support informed decision making through provision of timely and relevant information and applied research,” says Dr. Terri MacDonald, the Regional Innovation Chair in Rural Economic Development and for Selkirk College and the Columbia Basin Rural Development Institute. “With the valuable information collected through community-driven BRE projects, decision makers and economic development practitioners will be well positioned to provide support to our local businesses and take action to improve the overall business climate in our region.”

To streamline these projects, the RDI has acquired a license for the BC Business Counts program. Communities can utilize this license, which includes access to a BR+E web-based application (executive pulse) that supports analysis at the local, regional and provincial levels. In addition to providing communities with research and training support, the RDI engages in applied research focused on better understanding the capacity of our communities to address business needs and respond to emerging opportunities.

Related Documents / Media:

Business Retention and Expansion Business Consent Form

Reports

 

Columbia Basin Business Resource Directory

The Columbia Basin Business Resource Directory is an initiative by Columbia Basin Trust and delivered by the Basin Business Advisors Program (BBA) Program.

CLIMATE  CHANGE ADAPTATION KNOWLEDGE BRIEFS

The Rural Development Institute (RDI), with support from the Rural Policy Learning Commons and the BC Real Estate Foundation, have written 3 knowledge briefs relating to climate change adaptation. The knowledge briefs, short summaries of the key points from academic and grey literature, aim to help those looking to better understand this complicated topic.

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CLIMATE ADAPTATION INDICATORS PROJECT: PILOTING THE SoCARB SUITE IN 2016 AND BEYOND

The purpose of this RDI-led project is to pilot, evaluate, refine, and support uptake of the State of Climate Adaptation and Resilience in the Basin (SoCARB) indicator suite. SoCARB was developed in 2014 as a result of a research partnership between Columbia Basin Trust’s Communities Adapting to Climate Change Initiative and the RDI. It is a “made in the Basin-Boundary” approach to measuring progress in adapting to climate change. It is anticipated the resulting indicator suite will serve both the State of the Basin initiative and the related planning and performance measurement needs of individual communities and the region as a whole.

*Phase 1 pilot communities include: Kimberley, Rossland

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CLIMATE ADAPTATION INDICATORS PROJECTLAYING THE GROUNDWORK

The RDI partnered with Columbia Basin Trust’s Communities Adapting to Climate Change Initiative on a project in 2014, which sought to measure the Basin’s progress on climate adaptation and climate resilience using indicators. Indicators are helpful for informing residents, organizations, and governments regarding key trends in climate adaptation and resilience, facilitating understanding of complex issues, evaluating the effectiveness of various adaptation measures, and motivating change.

Technical work was completed and three knowledge products related to the project were created:

Summary Report: Measuring Progress on climate change adaptation in the Columbia Basin

Final Report: Indicators of climate adaptation in the Columbia Basin

Climate resilience indicator literature review

The goals of the project was to develop a suite of regional-level climate change indicators to measure community climate adaptation efforts, assist communities in understanding climate change and adaptation, help decision makers in the Basin make informed decisions and measure the success of adaptation efforts. The resulting State of Climate Adaptation and Resilience in the Basin (SoCARB) indicator suite builds on current State of the Basin indicators that effectively can measure an aspect of climate adaptation.

The primary audiences for this work are local governments and engaged community members in the Columbia Basin. As such, local government representatives—both staff and decision makers—were engaged early in the process to ensure that the products developed were useful for them. Secondary audiences include Basin residents, businesses, and community groups, as well as other organizations, governments and researchers in Canada interested in measuring climate adaptation using indicators.

Moreover, the conceptual models developed and process utilized to create the SoCARB should be applicable to other communities or agencies in Canada interested in developing their own “State of Climate Adaptation” program.

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This project is receiving financial support from our sponsors:

 

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ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND PERFORMANCE MEASUREMENT

The purpose of this applied research project is to establish a baseline and measure progress on economic development efforts using indicators in the Columbia Basin-Boundary region. Indicators are especially important for informing and evaluating the impact of a community’s economic development plan. This project responds to a request made by the Basin-Boundary Economic Development Practitioners Network (EDPN) to provide performance measurement training support. The Columbia Basin Rural Development Institute (RDI) recognized the opportunity to tie this need to the State of the Basin Initiative. It is anticipated that the resulting indicator suite will serve both the State of the Basin economic indicator portfolio and the related planning and performance measurement needs of individual communities and the region as a whole.  The RDI will be working in partnership with the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training (MJTST) and the Basin-Boundary EDPN to pilot the Performance Measurement Toolkit[1] in our rural communities.

Phase 1: Indicator Selection Session

The Community Lead will assemble a small working group of economic development stakeholders[2] that will come together to review the indicator library and select a core suite of indicators that: a) best position the community to understand the local economic climate, and b) create a baseline from which to measure progress against identified economic development goals (if applicable).  Phase 2 and 3 will be scoped at this meeting, including an identification of required resource requirements.  The desired outcomes of the meeting are a draft Collaborative Research MOU, a prioritized list of indicators, and details required to create both a research and knowledge mobilization plan.

Phase 2: Data Collection and Analysis

The Community Lead will work with the research team at the RDI to collect and analyze prioritized indicator data.  A Co-Op student will be available to provide data collection support to the pilot community.  Training for community-based researchers is also available as needed.  RDI will produce a ‘State of the Economy: Revelstoke’ report, which will include baseline indicators to be used to measure performance against identified economic development goals (if applicable).

Phase 3: Knowledge Mobilization

The report will be released and knowledge will be mobilized according to the knowledge mobilization plan that was scoped during Phase 1.  Knowledge mobilization activities could include, but are not limited to, a press release, a webinar to share key findings, a community workshop to tie together research, planning, and future action.

*Phase 1 pilot communities include: Revelstoke

To learn more about economic development please access the Knowledge Briefs below:

Economic Development Part I – Performance Measurement for Economic Development

Economic Development Part II – Assessing & Measuring Resilience in Regional & Local Economies ___________________________________________________

[1] http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/employment-business/economic-development/developing-your-community/track-your-progress

[2] economic development practitioner (EDP), local government rep, and industry representation are recommended

 

The purpose of the poverty reduction indicators project is to establish a baseline and measure progress on poverty reduction efforts using indicators in the Columbia Basin-Boundary region. Indicators are helpful for informing residents, organizations, and governments regarding key trends in poverty reduction, facilitating understanding of complex issues, evaluating the effectiveness of various poverty reduction measures, and motivating change. This project responds to a request made by the communities of Lower Columbia, Nelson, Cranbrook, and Revelstoke to support their collaborative poverty reduction indicator work and interest in more directly linking efforts to the State of the Basin Initiative. It is anticipated that the resulting poverty indicator suite will serve both State of the Basin monitoring and reporting and the poverty reduction planning and performance measurement needs of individual communities.

Phase 1: Indicator Selection Session

The Community Lead will assemble a small working group of community stakeholders that will come together to identify project goals and desired outcomes.  The working group will review the indicator library and select a core suite of indicators that: a) best position the community to understand poverty at the local level, and b) create a baseline from which to measure progress against identified poverty reduction goals (if applicable).  Phase 2 and 3 of the project will be discussed at this meeting, including an identification of required resource requirements.  The desired outcomes of the meeting are a draft Collaborative Research MOU, a prioritized list of indicators, and details required to create both a research and knowledge mobilization plan.

Phase 2: Data Collection and Analysis

The Community Lead will work with the research team at the RDI to collect and analyze prioritized indicator data.  A Co-Op student will be available to provide data collection support to the pilot community.  Training for community-based researchers is also available as needed.  RDI will produce a ‘State of the Poverty’ report, which will include baseline indicators to be used to measure performance against identified poverty reduction goals (if applicable).

Phase 3: Knowledge Mobilization

The report will be released and knowledge will be mobilized according to the knowledge mobilization plan that was scoped during Phase 1.  Knowledge mobilization activities could include, but are not limited to, a press release, a webinar to share key findings, a community workshop to tie together research, planning, and future action.

*Phase 1 pilot communities include:  Lower Columbia, Revelstoke, Cranbrook, Nelson, and Valemount

To learn more about poverty reduction please access the Knowledge Briefs below:

Knowledge Brief: Identifying Strategies and Initiatives in Rural Communities

Knowledge Brief: Using Indicators to Support Poverty Reduction

Knowledge Brief: Identifying Key Indicators for Poverty Reduction

To view RDI’s most recent Trends Analysis on Poverty visit the State of the Basin Initiative.

Introduction

The purpose of the work force innovation project is to advance innovation in regional workforce development through the facilitation of informed decision-making, the weaving of related networks, and the piloting of best practice approaches. This regional 3-year project conceptualizes workforce development in terms of creating globally competitive industries, building an entrepreneurial region, development a workforce with 21st Century skills, and weaving supportive civic networks.

The project is designed to address three key objectives. The first is to collect, compile, and mobilize available labour market data in order to equip our region’s decision-makers with the information they need to make informed decisions related to the workforce and economy.  The second is to assess the state of network relationships linking workforce development and economic development practitioners. This baseline account will allow network members to engage in strategic efforts to improve collaboration. The third objective involves piloting innovative, best practice approaches to workforce development. Selected interventions will consider regional priorities, opportunities and lessons learned from elsewhere. This applied research project is well positioned to mobilize efforts aimed at fostering experiential learning, strengthening our learning region and more purposefully positioning Selkirk College as an active partner in the region’s economic development landscape.

Research Rationale & Target User Groups

Many regions are witnessing a growing gap between the types of skills that are available in the workforce, and those that are required by employers. Researchers have acknowledged that this challenge primarily stems from the failure of workforce development services to keep pace with the increasingly complex and dynamic needs of the modern economy. This challenge is evidenced in the Basin-Boundary region by the Business Retention and Expansion pilot project, which found that many employers are experiencing difficulties recruiting workers with the skillset required by the business.

Target user groups include educational institutions, industry associations, governments, economic development practitioners, employment service providers and policy-makers. The project is designed to complement the Regional Skills Training Plan that was released in 2013 as a result of work undertaken by the Kootenay Regional Workforce Table (KRWT). Participants in the KRWT will be key project partners, alongside sub-regional groups that have identified workforce development as a priority.

Guiding Research Questions

  1. What types of information and knowledge mobilization approaches best support informed workforce and economic development decision-making in the Columbia Basin-Boundary region?
  2. How can workforce and economic development networks be strengthened to support desired outcomes?
  3. How can workforce development best practice approaches most effectively be applied in the Columbia Basin-Boundary region?

Methods

The research will employ a mixed method approach, utilizing both quantitative and qualitative methodologies. Statistical and geospatial analysis will be used to better understand regional labour market data. A participatory, embedded case study-social network methodology will be used to better understand the mobilization of knowledge, role of networks and implementation of best practices. Efforts will be made to involve students and faculty in this research.

Key Activities

The collection and mobilization of labour market data is expected to include interviews with industry association representatives, compilation of data from major statistical agencies and available local data, an assessment of the capacity and capabilities of the regions’ colleges to meet existing and emerging labour force needs, and the development of information projects customized to target audiences.

Activities related to the role of networks in regional workforce and economic development will include a benchmark network analysis in year one and a network analysis again in year 3. The intention is to understand if, how and to what extent interventions aimed at strengthening the regional network have been effective.

Activities focused on piloting interventions are expected to include the development of a Regional Workforce Innovation in Economic Development Plan (building on the Regional Skills Training Plan), the recommendation of interventions to the Regional Steering Committee based on regional priorities, opportunities and lessons learned from elsewhere, and the monitoring of impacts of interventions on desired outcomes.

Knowledge Mobilization and Products

Knowledge mobilization activities should be targeted at likely end-users, including the KRWT Steering Committee, colleges, school districts, secondary school guidance councilors and teachers, industry associations, Columbia Basin Trust, First Nations, economic development stakeholders, local government, provincial policymakers, employment service providers.  Knowledge products and outreach and extension activities will primarily follow a ‘meet them where they are at’ approach (i.e. presentations to College Boards, KRWT Steering Committee, economic development organizations, Regional Economic Development Practitioners Network).

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To learn more about workforce development, please access the Knowledge Briefs below:

Knowledge Brief: Youth Workforce Development

This brief considers workforce development broadly, including actions related to education, training, and skills development, such as Kindergarten to grade 12 education, post-secondary education, professional job training, placements/apprenticeships, career advancement, lifelong learning, and everything in between.

Knowledge Brief: Youth Training and Education

This brief considers youth related training and education initiatives that enhance the skills base, employability, and quality of life of youth.  Common success factors are identified drawn from multiple examples of youth training and education initiatives.

Knowledge Brief: Youth Engagement

This brief considers why youth engagement is critical for countering youth out-migration and increasing opportunities in rural communities.  Engagement has been linked to benefits such as: doing better in school, increasing sense of responsibility, better decision-making, and increased sense of ownership and legitimacy.

Knowledge Brief: Youth Retention

This brief considers youth retention as defined as any initiative resulting in a stable youth population within a region.  In this way youth retention is not limited to keeping existing youth, but also includes repatriation and attraction.  Relevant opportunity and quality of life factors are identified.

Knowledge Brief: Learning Region

This brief considers how actors in a region learn together to promote local innovation.  Based on a review of academic research, optimal characteristics of learning regions are identified.

Youth Training, Engagement, and Retention: Literature Review

Youth Training, Engagement and Retention: Select Examples

Youth Training, Engagement and Retention: Select Resources

 

Creating Quality Jobs Framework International Economic Development Council. (2010). Creating Quality Jobs: Transforming the Economic Development Landscape.

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Note: The Applied Research & Innovation Centre at Selkirk College through the work of the Regional Innovation Chair in Rural Economic Development secured $738,000 of cash and in-kind funding (including $240,000 from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada) to advance this regional initiative.

To learn more about this broader initiative please view the SSHRC Workforce Development Summary Brief.

 

The Rural Development Institute’s Adopting Digital Technologies (ADT) pilot project was made possible by funding from the National Research Council.

This project was a true team effort that brought numerous departments and faculty together to help address the technological challenges and opportunities facing small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the Columbia Basin Boundary region.

“For this project, we brought together different fields of technical knowledge within the Selkirk College community together,” says Regional Innovation Chair in Rural Economic Development, Dr. Terri MacDonald, with Selkirk College's Columbia Basin Rural Development Institute. [expand title="More" swaptitle="Less" ] “For instance, we were able to bring together experts in geospatial technologies with experts in forestry. Having access to these different areas of expertise gives us a unique ability to meet the needs of the businesses that are participating in this project.” Selkirk College worked in partnership with the College of the Rockies and Okanagan College on this pilot project which concluded in February 2013.

The applied research component of this project focused on the role of community colleges in supporting the technology and research and development needs of industry. Canadian colleges are taking a more proactive role in supporting the needs of business. Federal funding through agencies like the National Research Council and Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada is making this possible.

DIGITAL TECHNOLOGIES ARE KEY TO BUSINESS SUCCESS

Digital technology changes the way we do business, and Selkirk College implemented a 14-month program (January 2013 to February 2014) to help small and medium- sized enterprises (SMEs) to develop their business, by fulfilling some of the needs that arise in the adoption of digital technologies.

Our overarching aim was to support SMEs in the Columbia Basin Boundary Region so they can boost productivity in support of their growth plans.

 

 

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SELKIRK-SME ADOPTION OF DIGITAL TECHNOLOGIES (ADT) PILOT PROJECT

Selkirk College implemented the ADT project with funding support through the Digital Technology Adoption Pilot Program (DTAPP), delivered by the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP).

Under the ADT project, Selkirk College provided:

  • Specialized needs focused training, workshops and short courses
  • Advisory services from a College-Industry Liaison Officer,
  • Direct support in the adoption of geospatial and digital media technologies that will improve productivity

These services carried no costs for SME recipients.

“One of the goals of Selkirk College’s Rural Development Institute (RDI) is to support innovation and knowledge transfer to SMEs. This project represented a significant step forward in advancing this goal. By connecting faculty technical expertise to SME business needs, Selkirk College is further increasing our ability to have a direct impact on rural economic development in our region.” - Dr. Terri MacDonald, Regional Innovation Chair in Rural Economic Development for Selkirk College and Columbia Basin Rural Development Institute.

For more information, please contact Terri MacDonald.

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Selkirk SME Advisory Services & Projects

The Selkirk-SME Adoption of Digital Technologies (ADT) Pilot Project provided Small to Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) with direct support, technical training business, marketing and technical advisory services aimed helping businesses increase their productivity. We also supported SME projects with several businesses in the adoption of digital technology to provide them with a competitive edge moving forward.

Reports

Selkirk-SME ADT Final Report
National Research Council Case Study

This project was supported by:

Sponsors

EMPLOYMENT LANDS PROJECT

From the very beginning, the Rural Development Institute’s Employment Lands Geospatial Inventory project presented a number of unique challenges to researchers. The project’s end-goal was to provide local governments and the business community with a clear understanding of the region’s capacity to match potential economic investment or expansion with the land necessary to accommodate that growth. But any attempt to formulate a conclusion depended on the research team’s ability to collect and manage vast quantities of data.

The process of identifying and classifying employment land data throughout the region was made easier through a partnership with the Selkirk Geospatial Research Centre that led to the creation of a web-based Employment Lands Inventory and Site Selection Tool. These development efforts allowed researchers to map a growing database of regional commercial, industrial and agricultural ‘wealth generating’ lands and share their findings in an accessible format.

Phase 2 of the project has now concluded.  The research team worked hard to fill gaps in local government GIS data and a series of stakeholder forums was held in the Spring 2014 to discuss opportunities, gaps and possible future links to regional land use planning. Phase 2 also involved final stages of development of the Digital Basin site selection tool which now allows investors, economic development practitioners, planners and existing business owners to search and query the lands inventory by pre-determined criteria such as zoning, proximity to services and transportation routes, land gradient, and parcel size.

Briefs, Reports and Videos:

Community Employment Land Inventories

Identifying Opportunities to Increase Food Production and Improve Food Security

The Food Systems project identified opportunities to increase food production in the Columbia Basin-Boundary region in an environmentally, economically, socially and culturally sustainable way. Research focused primarily on areas where the RDI could provide information to food system actors to help improve the food production, processing, distribution and retail sectors. These opportunities were identified based on a review of the three recently completed Agriculture Plans from the Regional Districts of Kootenay BoundaryCentral Kootenay and East Kootenay, and through consultations with a project advisory committee consisting of agricultural stakeholders from across the region.

Research Rationale & Target User Groups

There is a growing interest in agriculture and food security in the region, with the RDKB, RDCK and RDEK all recently completing Agriculture Plans. There is also considerable recent research both within our region and elsewhere on agriculture issues, which tend to either focus on challenges or provide general options for opportunities, however none cover the Columbia Basin-Boundary on a regional scale. Results from this project will help build the capacity of key stakeholders and decision-makers from across the region to make informed decisions related to regional food systems and related land use planning.

Guiding Research Questions

  1. What assets and gaps exist in the regions’ food systems landscape?
  2. What are the opportunities to better utilize agricultural lands?
  3. What specific opportunities exist to improve the regions’ food system?

Key Activities and Timelines

The project ran from fall 2014 to spring 2016 and research is now complete. Key research products are described and linked below.

Research Brief: Identifying and Valuing Underutilized Agricultural Land

This report summarizes results from efforts to evaluate the extent of land in the Basin-Boundary region with potential for agricultural expansion. Two methodologies were employed for this analysis—one based on property information and one based on remotely sensed data (conducted in partnership with the Selkirk Geospatial Research Centre). The report also includes an assessment of the monetary value of underutilized agricultural lands.

Inventory of Regional Resources for Food System Planning and Action

This inventory includes over 40 resources produced by organizations and individuals in the Basin-Boundary region. It serves as an introduction to the state of efforts in the regional food movement, and helps readers understand the key players involved.

Research Brief: Innovation in the Basin-Boundary Beef Supply Chain

This report will summarize results from a study focused on characterizing innovation among Columbia Basin-Boundary beef producers and the organizations they interact with along the supply chain. The study was undertaken with the goal of better understanding the factors that influence this sector’s ability to innovate, as well as the impact innovation has on the success of beef businesses.

Research Brief: Innovative Solutions to Basin-Boundary Food System Challenges

This report provides an overview of several innovative solutions which have potential to help address identified challenges to expanding food production in the Columbia Basin-Boundary region. The study highlights models that have already been implemented on a smaller scale within the region that could be duplicated or expanded, as well as examples from outside the region. Innovative solutions are broken into three categories: supply, processing, and ownership and land access.

Research Brief: Agricultural Climate: Conditions and Trends

This report summarizes research into climatic factors influencing the agricultural potential of the Basin-Boundary region. Drawing on a capability classification system developed by the BC government in the 1980s, the report provides an updated analysis of conditions and trends related to key agricultural climate variables such as climatic moisture deficit, growing degree days and frost free period.

Knowledge Brief: Agriculture Planning

This report summarizes common themes in the agricultural plans prepared for the Kootenay Boundary, Central Kootenay and East Kootenay Regional Districts. It serves as an introduction to regional agricultural opportunities, challenges and priorities. This report is also summarized in a short video.

Webinar: Advancing the Basin-Boundary Regional Food System

This webinar marked the end of the Food Systems project and featured speakers from the RDI and other organizations involved in advancing food-related research, planning and action in the region. A recording of the webinar is available for viewing, as are copies of the presentations. For Lauren Rethoret's presentation on project results (with a focus on innovative approaches to expanding food production) click here. For Rachael Roussin's presentation on the characteristics of agricultural land in the West Kootenay, click here. For Brent Mansfield's presentation on collaborative approaches to food policy advancement, click here.

Additional Resources: a background paper entitled Agriculture in the Columbia Basin produced for the Columbia Basin Trust can be found here.

The Columbia Basin-Boundary Food Systems project received financial support from the Real Estate Foundation of British Columbia.

Exploring Characteristics, Capacity, and Collaboration of the Social Non-Profit Sector

This applied research project explored key characteristics, financial and human resources, organizational capacity, social innovation, and organizational connections in the Columbia Basin-Boundary non-profit social sector. The research was an important step towards enabling evidence-based decision-making by our regions’ colleges and Columbia Basin Trust in efforts related to strengthening the sector. The research provides individual non-profits and the region as a whole with benchmark data against which to compare experiences and characteristics. In addition, the research  explored collaborative networks and highlights examples of innovation in the region’s non-profit social sector.

Research Rationale & Target User Groups

The non-profit sector has a substantial presence in our communities, creating meaningful employment and greatly contributing to individual and collective health and well-being. In order to sustain this important work and achieve greater success in outcomes, organizations are finding innovative and more intentional ways of working and working together. The literature is rich with information about the benefits of social innovation, collaboration, and collective impact. Forming and managing an intentional network allows for the ability to adapt, experiment, and invent, with structures in place to mobilize collective energy and resources.
[expand title="More" swaptitle="Less" ]Leaders in the Columbia Basin-Boundary social sector are actively discussing and practicing varying levels of networking, cooperating, coordinating, and collaborating. This research project created a baseline understanding of the social sector network, explored elements of successful innovations, and identified gaps and opportunities to sustain and strengthen this important sector. This research intends to contribute to current efforts on increasing regional collaboration for greater impact of the social sector and to the overall interest of collaboration across the non-profit sector in our region.[/expand]

Guiding Research Questions

  1. What are the key characteristics of social non-profit organizations and what financial and human resources are in place within the region?
  2. What challenges and opportunities is the region's non-profit social sector experiencing?
  3. In what ways are the region's social non-profit organizations advancing rural development through innovation and collaboration?
  4. What are the strengths and limitations of our region’s non-profit social sector network?

Methods

RDI conducted an online survey of social sector organizations, followed by key informant interviews, and a series of focus groups. The research employed a participatory, embedded case study approach using descriptive statistics and grounded theory to code qualitative data. An advisory group of representatives from the social sector across the region provided insight throughout the research design, implementation, and mobilization of findings. As an applied research project, outcomes include possible next steps for improving the function, sustainability, and impact of the social sector in the Columbia Basin-Boundary.

Key Activities and Timelines

The project ran from fall 2014 to fall 2016, and research is now complete. Key research products are described and linked below.

Inventory of social non-profits

This inventory includes over 300 social non-profit organizations and programs across the Columbia Basin-Boundary region. Before this research, no publicly available inventory of social non-profits existed, and this inventory can now serve as a way for residents and groups to locate and connect with each other. The list includes details on location, contact information, service area, and services provided.

Research Brief: Survey Results: Characteristics & Capacity of the Non-Profit Social Sector

The research began with an online survey of social non-profits across the region to help understand and create a baseline of organizational characteristics and capacity. This research brief reports on the findings from this survey, including organizational characteristics, financial resources and challenges, human resources and challenges, organizational needs, levels of collaboration and motivations and barriers to collaboration. There is also a full report on survey results which can be viewed here. To learn about the results also view the Social Sector Surprises? Webinar Video or the Social Sector Surprises? Webinar Presentation Slides.

Research Brief: Innovation in Action: Stories of  Social Sector Success

The online survey was followed by several interviews of leaders within the social non-profit sector both within and outside the region. This report shares the findings from these interviews with particular attention to why organizations innovate, what makes innovation successful, and how to create a culture of innovation. Several examples of innovation across the Columbia Basin-Boundary region are highlighted as well as other Canadian social innovation organizations and resources.

Research Brief: Community Conversations: Improving Social Well-being & Social Sector Health

A series of focus groups were conducted to share findings from the survey and to solicit ideas to strengthen the social sector and improve social well-being in our communities and region. This research brief provides a summary of the results from five focus groups conducted, highlighting responses to the three main discussion questions: (1) What is working well right now in the social sector?, (2) What are some new ideas to strengthen the social sector?, and (3) How can your community work together to improve social well-being?.

Knowledge Brief: Foundations for Change: Non-Profit Sector Innovation

This knowledge brief summarizes a review of literature conducted as part of the research project. It explains key concepts related to improving community development outcomes for the non-profit sector as well as other areas of society, including the concepts of: social innovation, social networks, collaboration, and collective impact.

The State of the Environment project ran from January 2013 to May 2014 and aimed to improve the quality and accessibility of environmental research in the Columbia Basin Boundary region through four objectives:

  1. explore the landscape of environmental research and planning in the region,
  2. expand existing State of the Basin environmental indicators,
  3. develop (in partnership with the Selkirk Geospatial Research Centre) a web-based geospatial portal to provide easy access to information that supports informed decision making and collaboration, and
  4. build the research capacity of environmental stakeholders in order to improve data collection, support use of the web-based portal (the “Digital Basin”), and link research to environmental decision making.

Key outcomes from the project included expansion of the suite of environmental indicators reported under the State of the Basin initiative, development of the Digital Basin (including the addition of 28 environmental data layers) and a series of presentations and workshops aimed at building the capacity of regional environmental stakeholders to access and use research. The State of the Environment research brief provides more detail on the project's rationale and results.

The State of the Environment project received financial support from the Real Estate Foundation of British Columbia.

 

 

INNOVATION AND KNOWLEDGE TRANSFER

One of the core purposes of the Rural Development Institute at Selkirk College is to positively impact innovation and knowledge transfer in the Columbia Basin Boundary region. It’s a straightforward and simple concept that places the RDI in strategic and collaborative partnership with regional, provincial and national networks that are focused on innovation and rural development.

The RDI seeks to increase innovation and knowledge transfer capacity by collaborating and sharing information with academic, government and community organizations that have matching goals and objectives. Presentations, knowledge products and extension activities also support the transfer of knowledge to key stakeholder groups in the region with the goal of supporting a collective regional understanding of key rural development concepts, opportunities and best practices.

A series of knowledge transfer products and supports are being produced on an ongoing basis including Trends Analyses of State of the Basin indicator datasets, Literature Reviews and related Knowledge Syntheses Papers, Speakers Series & Training Workshops, Profiles of Rural Innovators, and the online Research Repository.

 

In an effort to provide a picture of well-being at a given moment in time, RDI researchers are producing a graphic-based State of the Basin Snap Shot report that presents economic, social, cultural and environmental indicator data. The goal is to benchmark and increase our collective understanding of well being in the region and to promote discussion on where we are at and where we might want to go. Datasets presented in Snap Shot and Long reports can be further explored through Trends Analysis Briefs and the online Digital Basin Assets & Indicators Geospatial Portal.

In an effort to capture a snapshot of trends over time and to take advantage of data available through Census Canada, the RDI will produce a State of the Basin Long Report in the year following each Census release. Future reports will not only explore 5-year trends within our region, but will also compare our region to other economic regions in British Columbia. The first 2013 State of the Basin Long Report was released in the Fall 2013. This first Long Report  primarily examines indicators considered in the 2012 Snap Shot and 2013 Snap Shot reports. Future iterations will prioritize emerging priority research areas as identified through ongoing stakeholder engagement.

The Rural Development Institute at Selkirk College is encouraging dialogue in our communities by hosting an ongoing Speaker Series that is designed to provide opportunities to hear from experts on economic, social, environmental and cultural development topics. Each speaker brings a unique set of professional experience and knowledge in their field to share with citizens of the Columbia Basin Boundary region.

The RDI’s goal through the Speaker Series is to provide access to discussion on issues that can be national or global in scope, but explored and discussed through a regional or local context. Always relevant and sometimes controversial, these speakers provide the substance for healthy and thoughtful debate long after the event is complete.

Training workshops are also delivered across the region on an as-needed basis, in response to the needs of ‘communities of practice’. These workshops focus on building the capacity of community based researchers in support of their efforts to collect and use data. The rationale behind these workshops is to provide stakeholders with a better understanding of community-based research (CBR), to share examples of best practices, to link stakeholders with others in their ‘community of practice’, and to provide stakeholders with the tools they need to conduct and use findings from research efforts best positioned to advance their collective goals.

Click here to view the webinar archive.

Click here to view the speakers series archive.

The Rural Development Institute at Selkirk College strives to provide information and analysis that is accessible to a wide audience outside of the scholastic community. With this goal in mind, the RDI has launched a series of Research and Knowledge Briefs.  Research Briefs summarise research findings from RDI research.  Knowledge Briefs present the most relevant research and data from government and academic sources.

There are a number of benefits to these Research and Knowledge Briefs: they allow for broad topics to be broken down to a concise and manageable size; they take existing research that is often extensive and complex and distill the most salient points; they appeal to a wide audience that may lack the willingness or expertise to hunt through vast amounts of research from different sources; and they allow for readers to easily tap in to specific areas of rural development interest by limiting the scope of individual reports.

Click here to review briefs generated from the Regional Food Systems project.

Click here to review briefs generated from the Workforce Development project.

This repository allows users to browse and search for Columbia Basin-Boundary research and planning documents by geographic location, rural development topic, and document type. The consolidation of knowledge is one of the ways the RDI aims to support information sharing and encourage regional collaboration. This repository allows communities (geographic and communities of interest) to learn from each other and points to opportunities where communities might come together around shared research interests. Users are invited to add their research and / or planning reports.