City-wide Engagement Provides Insight for the Direction of New Affordable Housing within the City of Edmonton

Edmonton — The Rural Development Network (RDN)’s affordable housing arm, the Sustainable Housing Initiative (SHI), released the “Affordable Housing in Edmonton – Engagement Case Study”, to inform an exploration of their own affordable housing development within the City of Edmonton. This report highlights the preliminary findings from public stakeholder engagement with Edmonton’s residents, as well as an action plan on how these findings will be used in the future.

This document will not only inform the SHI’s exploration of a potential affordable housing project in Edmonton, but will also help the City and other potential developers understand a wide range of perspectives on what affordable housing means to Edmontonians. 

“We were pleased to find that most Edmontonians who responded are open to affordable housing in their neighbourhood.” says Dee Ann Benard, Executive Director of the RDN, “These Edmontonians want to see affordable housing more evenly distributed throughout the city. Also, there is a strong desire to see community consultation processes be more transparent and authentic.” 

The key takeaways from the Engagement Case Study were as follows: 

  • There was a strong interest in creating affordable homes for people in all areas of the City. Every neighbourhood should have affordable housing options that help create more inclusive communities.
  • It is vital to develop new affordable homes in walkable communities, where key amenities and services such as transit, groceries and active transport infrastructure are within close proximity.
  • There is a need for transparent, authentic and continuous community engagement with community members. There needs to be special focus on engaging with those who will actually live in affordable housing, as well as the surrounding community. Following up with the community regarding their perspectives and suggestions is required to build trust.

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) provided a $24,000 grant for the development of RDN’s affordable housing retrofit in Edmonton plan offered through FCM’s Green Municipal Fund— Sustainable Affordable Housing Initiative.

“This project really fits in with FCM’s Sustainable Affordable Housing initiative, it aims to increase the energy efficiency of units by at least 25 percent. Local action on climate is essential, and this is how municipalities help meet Canada’s climate goals.” says Joanne Vanderheyden, FCM President.

“Improvements in energy efficiency are our ‘hidden fuel’ - they help us exceed our climate goals. Retrofitting homes will save Canadians money by lowering energy bills, low emissions, and build a cleaner, more prosperous future. This is how we get to net-zero.” says the Honorable Seamus O’Regan Jr., Minister of Natural Resources.

“We were happy to see how welcoming different communities were to affordable housing in Edmonton,” says Zain Abedin, Director of Community Engagement at the RDN., “We actively promote the development of affordable housing in rural communities across Canada and have documented our process in our Step-by-Step Guide to Developing Affordable Housing. We are now looking to explore the development of our own affordable housing project in Edmonton and contribute to the city we operate from.”

The final report will be released on July 8th by the Rural Development Network. Media, survey participants, and the general public are invited to review the results and reach out. View details and the full report at

About RDN: The Rural Development Network (RDN) is a not-for-profit partnership of five Alberta post-secondary institutions dedicated to addressing key issues in rural communities at a local level. RDN supports the sustainability of rural communities by amplifying the "rural voice.” RDN collaborates to identify and bring focus to rural issues, build local capacity, and find innovative, rural-based solutions to unique issues.

About SHI: The Sustainable Housing Initiative (SHI) is the Rural Development Network’s housing arm that focuses on the sustainable development of affordable housing in communities. The SHI created the publicly-available Step-by-Step Guide to Developing Affordable Housing to help walk organizations through the process of developing financially feasible affordable housing projects that support a wide-range of individuals. 

About GMF: Delivered by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and funded by the Government of Canada, the Green Municipal Fund ™ (GMF) supports local innovation that can be replicated and scaled up across the country to tackle Canada’s climate challenges. The Government of Canada endowed the $300-million Sustainable Affordable Housing initiative as part of a $950-million expansion of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Green Municipal Fund in Budget 2019. The SAH initiative assists municipal providers, not-for-profit organizations, or housing cooperatives with grants, loans, and capacity-building resources to support ambitious energy-efficiency standards in the construction and retrofitting of affordable housing


Julia Juco