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Okotoks Natural and Naturalized Asset Inventory receives AUMA Municipal Environmental Award

photo collage of natural areas in okotoks

OKOTOKS, AB: The Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) has selected the Town of Okotoks’ Natural and Naturalized Asset Inventory project as the recipient of its inaugural 2021 AUMA Municipal Environmental Award in the category of municipalities with a population of 10,000 or more. This new award recognizes AUMA member municipalities that have demonstrated excellence in environmental practices in their municipal operations, administration, and governance.

In 2020, driven by a commitment to protect the region’s natural assets, a cross-functional project was initiated to compile an inventory of these assets within the town boundaries. The Town collaborated with Fiera Biological Consultants to develop the first integrated inventory and valuation of Natural and Semi-Natural Assets in Alberta.

Incorporating natural assets into its asset inventory and planning enables the Town to determine the true value of undeveloped land, which includes the natural services it provides prior to development. The data will be used to identify, prioritize, and preserve natural assets in areas slated for development in a way that helps reduce Okotoks’ ecological footprint, enhances environmental protection, supports public health and safety, and improves operating costs and efficiencies that align with Okotoks’ community values.

The asset inventory calculated the total ecosystem services provided by land in the Town of Okotoks to be valued at $84 million. The two most valuable ecosystem services identified in the project were both directly related to climate change. These included water flow regulation, which increases in importance with more frequent and severe storms, and climate regulation, which is important to meet the Town's target of carbon neutrality by 2050.

This is the second award the Natural and Naturalized Asset Inventory has received in 2021. Earlier this year the Town also received the CAMA Environment Award from the Canadian Association of Municipal Administrators (CAMA).

The Natural and Naturalized Asset inventory has been shared with numerous municipalities throughout Alberta and across Canada. It was also featured on the CBC national radio program What on Earth?, where the benefits of valuing wetlands and calculating rates of carbon sequestration were discussed, and it was highlighted in a post-secondary Environmental Science course at UBC.

The Town will officially be presented with the award on November 18 during the AUMA Convention. For more information about the awards go to www.auma.ca/events/auma-awards.

To learn more about the Town’s Natural Asset Inventory go to www.okotoks.ca/natural-areas